Features, Film, Film Review, Interview

ANI-MANIA!: The Coolidge Corner Theatre’s Classic Anime Program Screens This April

ANI-MANIA! begins April 4 and runs all month long!


The Coolidge Corner Theatre kicks off the spring season with ANI-MANIA!, an anime-fueled repertory program that runs throughout April. Each film in this meticulously curated collection stands as a pillar of cinema; from Paprika and Akira to Perfect Blue and Ghost in the Shell, these stories have influenced and inspired moviemakers throughout time.

ANI-MANIA! will transport audiences to new worlds. They’ll experience a neon-drenched and distraught Neo-Tokyo, overwhelming dreamscapes that bend reality, corrupt governments, the sprawling orange plains of Mars, and the disturbing deterioration of a pop star’s reality.


I was inspired by Guillermo del Toro’s speeches during this award season about animation and how it’s a medium of art and not a genre,” says Mark Anastasio, film buff and Director of Special Programming at The Coolidge, who created the program. “It felt like the right time to put together a series dedicated to animated features. This was a more difficult series to curate due to issues with certain films being out of release in the U.S., but I’m very happy with the program that came together. Many of these films remind me of when I was just discovering international cinema, and tracking down as much anime as I could after first seeing Akira. We’re hoping that ANI-MANIA! will become a yearly program at the Coolidge, where we dive into different types of animation.”

ANI-MANIA! begins with Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name., a spellbinding tale of two teenagers that have swapped bodies. It’s followed by Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, based on the 1998 series of the same name. The sci-fi western centers on an enigmatic bioterrorist who threatens to eliminate humanity on Mars, and the intergalactic bounty hunter crew of the spaceship Bebop who are trying to hunt him down. This highly stylized noir is a phantasmagorical, cinematic journey.

“I’m pretty excited about the 35mm print of Cowboy Bebop we were able to book,” Anastasio says. “The film’s distributor isn’t even sure which version of the film we’re getting, subbed or dubbed, so it’ll be a fun surprise when it shows up.”

Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell follows. This highly influential cyberpunk thriller has inspired iconic works like James Cameron’s Avatar and the Wachowskis’ The MatrixGhost is set in a neo-noir 2029, where life is low and tech is high; the poor get poorer, and the rich get richer. Cybernetic enhancement is rampant in medical care. Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cybernetic-implanted agent, hunts down a hacker in a neon-drenched, rainy metropolis. Ghost implements philosophical concepts into its story, and centers on self-identity and autonomy in a technologically advanced dystopia.

“The majority of the program, possibly all, will be in Japanese with English subtitles,” Anastasio says. “I think it’s important to make sure audiences are aware that these are films from Japan. I hope this program will also help people overcome the barrier that some find subtitles to be. I hope the takeaway is a willingness for people, especially younger audience members, to see more international cinema.”

The psychological thriller Paprika follows Ghost‘s deep dive into science fiction. Satoshi Kon’s critically exclaimed dreamscape heavily influenced Christopher Nolan’s Inception. The reality-bending film follows a heart-pounding battle between a dream terrorist and a research psychologist.

I feel as though the impact of many of these films is huge in cinema,” Anastasio says. “Not only in Paprika, but you see bits of Akira and Ghost in the Shell in many films. I stood up and cheered for Keke Palmer getting a chance to do the Akira bike slide in Nope this summer!”

“Our audiences will be surprised by how many shots and scenes they’ll recognize,” Anastasio continues. “I’ve always appreciated the camera movements in anime. There’s an attention to detail in cinematography, setting, and landscape that has always seemed heightened compared to other countries’ styles.”

The dieselpunk drama Metropolis is next in the repertoire. Rintaro’s futuristic drama foretells a dismal future where humans and robots coexist in the troubled, poverty-stricken city of Metropolis.

Akira follows these dystopian themes. This cyberpunk action film set in 2019 tells the story of the resilient, loud-mouthed Shōtarō Kaneda, a rebellious leader of a vigilante bōsōzoku gang. Kaneda must battle the authority of a deeply corrupt, neon-slick Neo-Tokyo and his childhood friend Tetsuo, who has become destructive after he was experimented on by the government.

So what do these striking, nightmarish films say about our society, and by extension, our own humanity? What do these stories concerning lack of autonomy, domineering governments, and the advancement of technology mean for us?

“Mostly that we’re doomed,” Anastasio says. “And we probably are. But hey, movies are fun!”

Finishing the program is Perfect Blue, the innovative, eerie first film by Satoshi Kon (Paprika) that went on to influence Darren Aronofsky’s film, Black SwanBlue is a thrilling psychological flick that centers on ex-J-pop star Mima Kirigoe, who desperately tries to shed her good-girl image. As she attempts to distance herself from her past and is viciously stalked by an unknown figure, her grasp on reality begins to crumble.

The final offering of ANI-MANIA! is Mamoru Hosoda’s Belle, the story of a high school student who becomes an international sensation after she discovers a new, virtual world.

What films didn’t make the program, but should be added to your Letterboxd lists?

“I have a whole list of films that we attempted to book for the program but couldn’t for a variety of reasons,” Anastasio tells us. “I’d recommend Sailor Moon: R: The Movie: The Promise of the Rose (1993),  Sailor Moon S: The Movie: Hearts in Ice (1994), Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train (2020), One Piece Film: Red (2022), Grave of Fireflies (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997), and End of Evangelion (1997).”

Find The Coolidge team at Anime Boston from Friday, April 7 to Sunday, April 9, in Community Row in promotion of the program.

“I’m looking forward to talking with attendees,” Anastasio says, “to really get to the bottom of why this is such a beloved art form.”

Your Name 
dir. Makoto Shinkai
112 min.

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
dir. Shinichirō Watanabe
115 min.

Ghost in the Shell
dir. Mamoru Oshii
83 min.

dir. Satoshi Kon
90 min.

dir. Rintaro
113 min.

dir. Katsuhiro Otomo
124 min.

Perfect Blue
dir. Satoshi Kon
81 min.

dir. Mamoru Hosoda
122 min.

ANI-MANIA! begins Tuesday, April 4 at The Coolidge Corner Theatre. For tickets and more information, click here!

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