We Love Anime: Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva & Mardock Scramble Parts 1 & 2

When asked by a man called Jon whether I wanted to check out the We Love Anime Festival screening at Stratford East Picturehouse on Saturday I was tentative. All I knew of anime was Pokémon and feared that true, hardcore anime would involve more amorous tentacles than I can handle. Curious to try a new genre of film, I went along and did enjoy myself, though it was a shame the two screenings I attended were struggling to get audience sizes into the double digits. Where’s the anime love Londoners?

Here’s what I saw:

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva

A children’s film based on a Nintendo DS game is a worrying prospect but Eternal Diva turned out to have the ideas and visuals to turn a simple spin-off into a solid film of its own. Professor Layton (lover of puzzles, renowned archaeologist and a true gentleman) and his apprentice Luke reminisce about an old case, one which involved both puzzles, archaeology and being a gentleman.

A trip to see one of Layton’s old students perform turns into a quest for eternal life as the concert hall sets sail on the sea and its inhabitants are set a series of puzzles. The winner, last man standing, is to be given eternal life, while all other contestants will receive instant death. Oh no! With a surprisingly complex plot, entertaining dialogue and gorgeous backdrops, this is a surprisingly great family film.

Mardock Scramble Parts 1 & 2

Mardock Scramble is a trilogy of short(ish) films based on the manga series based on a series of novels by Tow Ubukata. After being left for dead by Shell, fifteen year old prostitute Rune Ballot is rescued by Dr. Easter and made into a semi-cyborg so that she can testify against Shell and his gang. With a robotic mouse, Oeufcoque, Rune must come to terms with what happened to her and fight to stay alive so she can win the case against Shell.

Much more in keeping with my assumptions about anime these films are like no court room drama I’ve ever seen. What we have is extreme violence, constant nudity and plenty of talking cyborg animals, including a gay dolphin who seems to be dating a small boy. I could go on listing the bizarre things we witnessed that day (Shell’s gang is headed up by a man called Boiled and consists of men who graft various body parts to themselves) but that would spoil the wonder for anyone hoping to see it one day. Though I will admit to drifting off during the first of these two films, they were beautiful, horrific and mesmerising. While I may not be launching into the world of anime any time soon, I will happily watch the third film once it is released.