Yesterday I had the chance to visit the Pepper Anime Festival 2016 here in Germany. So first off, what exactly is the Pepper Anime Festival? Once a year the german Anime licensor Peppermint Anime organizes a festival in around 7 cities and shows a lot of Anime movies there. Although I wasn’t able to attend last year, I was able to this year and thanks to this blog right here, even managed to get a press ticket. So this post here will be about my experience made at said festival and what I thought of everything!
So first of all I think it’s necessary to say that watching movies in theaters greatly enhances the experience of almost any movie you could be watching. Having 200 or so people sitting around you all watching the same movie with you is a completely different atmosphere than it is to sit at home in front of your TV. Constantly having share the exact same emotions you are feeling and hearing other people around you react to it is an amazing experience and if you’ve never experienced Anime in theaters, I highly recommend you to do so some time!
Anyway let’s get to the first movie!
Starting off with a bang, the first movie of the day I saw was Kizumonogatari. First off let me state how incredibly good it felt to be able to watch it before almost everyone else I know. That out of the way, I have to admit I was late for the showing and missed the first 15 minutes of the movie (which supposedly were the best part of the movie as well) thanks to a shit navigation system. Anyway, even if I didn’t see it 100%, what I did see of it was amazing! Easy highlight of the movie to me, as I missed the first 15 minutes, would definitely be Araragi finding and helping out Heart-Under-Blade, who we’d later get to know as Shinobu. Careful framing, a fantastically eerie Soundtrack and insane animation quality throughout, made it an absolute treat to watch especially since I was sitting in a theater while doing so. The heart of the Monogatari series however always was in it’s dialogue and oh god it really doesn’t disappoint. Glorious banter between Heart-Under-Blade and Araragi as well as a conversation with a supposedly hilarious conversation with Hanekawa that I missed, everything was great and I can’t say how much I hope to see the second movie in the same theater next year!
Next up on the schedule was a relatively hard choice between watching Garakowa and the Love Live movie. I ended up deciding to watch Garakowa for now based on what I heard from others. First up however was a different film and I doubt that our little group was the only one checking the schedules if they really were in the right theater. The little short film called Cavity Train was a wild ride through the land of sweets and brushing your teeth. It was weird as hell and I am still not entirely sure what exactly it was supposed to be in the end, but hey we sure had fun with that.
Garakowa itself was a mixed bag for pretty much all the people with and although I personally did quite enjoy it, I don’t feel like I got everything out of it just yet. There were a few things that left me rather confused and I might have to rewatch it again before I can give proper thoughts on it. For now though, I’ll say that I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw, mostly thanks to very charming characters and some great visuals.
After that came the movie almost everyone was waiting for. High Speed was next to the one that was to come afterwards the movie that was the most anticipated and that really showed during the movie itself. First up though, we had a celebrities visiting the festival! Or well I guess a celebrity is a bit of an overstatement considering I doubt anyone knew this man’s name before, but Nishide Masayuki, the producer of anything Free!, Heartcatch Precure, Aldnoah.Zero and several other shows was a special guest. He gave out autographs and even held a little Q&A session before the film which I thought was fantastic. As someone that really likes to talk, read and hear about the people behind the shows I like getting to meet one of them in person was a great experience and I am glad Peppermint Anime was able to organize it!
Now to the actual movie itself. High Speed was great! Probably my favorite from the entire festival even. I’ve been a pretty big fan of the original show for quite a while already now and the movie didn’t disappoint at all. The character dynamics worked insanely well once again even with the new faces and best boy Rin being absent. What really made this as fun as it was though, must have been watching it in theaters. While the movie itself was fantastic already, hearing everyone around you react to it was a great experience in itself. 200 people going “aww” at the same time whenever grade school Nagisa showed up, or a ton of fangirls suddenly screaming when Sousuke was on the scream was as hilarious and fun as it sounds and do I even need to mention the animation? While there wasn’t as many flashy swimming scenes with dynamic camera movements this time around, the character acting made more than up for it. I knew seeing a movie animated by Kyoto Animation on the big screen would be good but damn this was a fantastic experience!
Next up was the headliner of the festival. I was relatively wary of Anthem of the Heart at the start and really didn’t think I’d enjoy it very much considering the people behind it and that that kind of show isn’t exactly the kind I love. All of that said, Anthem of the Heart was absolutely great! The story behind it didn’t feel like it forced feelings out of you at all, which is my usual complaints for things like this, but it felt like it was just trying to convey genuine emotions! The characters were all incredibly endearing and although there were some moments that felt incredibly unrealistic and out of character, or some characters that only existed to move forward the plot, all of those ended up being rather minor, which is much better than I anticipated. The one thing I disliked about the movie was a love triangle towards the end, that I felt like the movie could have done without, but it actually managed to do it somewhat well and it didn’t feel out of place at all, something rather rare for this kind of story.
For the second to last movie, we watched the second movie of the Persona 3 movie series. Now I actually watched the first of these movies the very day before this one and while I somewhat enjoyed I didn’t feel like it was great. The second one hit much of the same notes for me. While I thought it was a good movie as a whole and had an especially good idea of where it wanted to go with it’s themes and ideas, but the writing itself was unfortunately lacking. The characters fell flat once again and while I enjoyed the story and where it’s going, I never felt like there was any point in me caring about what was happening which is said considering the biggest catch of the video games are the characters. There was many big things happening in this second movie and I’d definitely tell anyone that’s played the games to watch the movies as well, but other than that I can’t say they’re as good as I heard others say they are.
Lastly, Knights of Sidonia was a very good reminder, that recap movies are not very great, especially when you haven’t seen the show. Now I have seen Sidonia myself and absolutely love the show, but I was watching the movie with my good friend Chris (@UsaagiTsun), who doesn’t know the show and well, let’s say I’ll have some convincing to do to make him watch it. Now I get, that there are a lot of things a recap movie will have to cut out of the original to make it work, but the content that was cut in favor of others, really didn’t leave me pleased. There were incredibly important character moments from the first few cut for the sake of fanservice etc. I personally had a whole lot of fun thanks to the fact that I had the seen the show and knew what was going on, but I highly doubt anyone else did.
Besides getting to watch a shit ton of movies, the perk of getting a daily ticket for the PepperAnimeFestival was an entire bag of extras that was more than worth the 40€ spent on it! I’m sorry for the somewhat low quality picture, but I didn’t have anything better than my phone on my hands, but I’ll go through everything we got as extras.
First of all the bag itself isn’t necessarily the greatest and doesn’t necessarily have the most original design, but I doubt that was really necessary either way. It would’ve been cool to have a nice design on it, but for now this one is enough! The first thing to notice is an insane amount of Anime postcards. I personally had 5 for Garakowa, one for Free, one for Phantom World and one for Anthem of the Heart, though I heard of others having different ones. The guidebook to the festival was very nice, with information on the movies and a schedule, but it’s of course not going to be anything that I’ll look at again any time soon. There is one Love Live/Cardfight Vanguard Magazine, that I personally thought was really cool, especially since the Love Live part, puts a large part on the card game Weiss/Schwarz, something I’ve been into quite a bit lately. Added to that, it also included a PR card for W/S as well as one for Cardfight Vanguard. Unfortunately I neither have any other Cardfight Vanguard cards, nor do I have any other Love Live ones. It also included a rather small but quite nice Love Live School Idol Project poster, that I’ll have to decide on where to put it soon. Speaking of posters that I don’t know where to put, the bag also included one huge Anthem of the Heart Poster, that I personally really do like a lot! It also had a little card signed by all the voice actors working on it, which I quite like, though I do have to admit I don’t know much about those in general. The next thing is a Final Fantasy XIV Demo for about 14 days that I honestly don’t know if I’ll be using it yet, considering I’ve not had much interest in it so far, but I definitely do like the fact that it was included. Lastly, the biggest surprise to me was that in the bag there was a Samurai Flamenco DVD Box. This is something that usually on it’s own costs 30€ and putting it in here for the people coming to watch is something I appreciate a lot, even if the show itself is not very good!
Anyway, that was it from my side, I didn’t expect to ramble on about this festival for this long so I’ll just say that I more than recommend going to the Pepper Anime Festival if you live close to any of the cities it is in, since it’s more than worth it, especially since Koe no Katachi is a very likely choice to come up for the festival in 2017! Thank you a lot for reading this and as always see you next time!