Yesterday I told you I went to see Dead Apples with Mel and told you all about the movie. “All” being somewhat subjective at this point. “About” as well… I wrote a post that mentioned some Bungou Stray Dogs characters… But the movie you see, was only half of the experience!
Side note: does your phone randomly capitalize some words? If so, do you think it means something. Like there’s a secret code in there to unmask a wide ranging government conspiracy? I think so too. They’re probably watching. We never talked about this..
Back to the show! Because anime movies don’t make it here that often, and I’m no longer hip so I don’t hear about them til months after their release anyway, I don’t get the chance to see anime in theaters very frequently. It had been almost a full year since I had seen Lu Over the Wall and the Napping Princess at the Fantasia film festival and besides, the festival experience is a whole different beast. Point is, I had pretty much forgotten what it was like to see anime at the movies. It’s great!
I should once again say a big thanks to Mel(inanimeland) for inviting me, as I probably would have missed it otherwise.
Obviously, seeing a movie with a friend, especially one you don’t get the chance to see too often, is going to be a good time, no big revelation there. But there’s something about the ritual and ambiance of physically going to the movies that’s special.
Our movie was at 4:30 on a Saturday in a theater that otherwise tends to show movies in French. It’s no secret that the combination of affordable wide flat screen TVs and readily available streaming services, has been rather though on movie theaters in general, and Montreal is no exception. The huge complexes was rather sparsely attended.
Nevertheless, as we made our way to the concession stand roughly half an hour before start time, we noticed a number of people in anime themed hoodies, or sailor uniforms (school, unfortunately not scout) we even saw a group of 4 people in full BSD cosplay in the arcade.
I took a picture but forgot to ask permission to post it. It’s all good, it’s a nice keepsake. Besides, I’m the world’s absolute worst photographer, so it’s a really bad picture. Taking it, having them all pose in character together, that was super fun.
And it sent a jolt through me. Got me all reved up for what I was about to see. I was sharing this experience with people that were just as excited about it as I was. More so! This was..um…exciting….
After a quick snack we decided to make our way to the screening room and I was absolutely delighted to see that just about everybody in the place was there to see dead apples and a rather good line up had formed in front of our theater. It was a fairly small room but it was packed, at 4pm on a Saturday, outside a festival event, in a neighborhood where most people didn’t watch movies in English, let alone subtitled. The times are achanging, and I see great things for tomorrow. Most of them don’t have anything to do with anime in theaters but I’m still stoked to have real world evidence of the growing market.
By the time I slumped down in my super comfy theater chair, realizing that my vertically challenged derriere would have to strain to see the subtitles (I did manage to catch most of them. These types of events are doing wonders for my posture!), I was just about giddy. I was grinning from ear to ear like a kid in a candy shop, taking personal delight in every line of overheard conversation discussing a show I had watched.
I was with my people, my tribe. We were politely not bothering each other and apologizing profusely if we had to walk past someone to get to our seats! Canadian otakus. I would like to mention that our audience had a pretty decent range. Both age range and ethnicity seemed pretty evenly varied and women slightly outnumbered men. This may have to do with the movie we were seeing, but I have been seeing a definite trend in the past few years and new anime lovers I meet lately are more often than not, women. In fact, when Mel and I took a little trip to a Manga specialized bookstore after the movie, the customers there were also pretty evenly split, leaning towards the feminine side with Mel and me in the room.
None of this is particularly relevant to the present post, but I thought the shift in demographics was interesting since some people still seem to think the fandom is comprised only of a certain specific group.
The movie watching experience is also just plain different in a theater. The room is pitch back, you pick up on excited whispers which, depending on your mood are either annoying or endearing, you get swept up in mob mentality, cheering at scenes you’d normally barely notice or gasping at something you saw coming a mile away just because everyone else seems so impressed.
A particularly obvious bit of fan service between Dazai and Chuuya for instance, was greeted by such cheers and exclamations of pure joy from the room that I couldn’t help but squee as well. And although I couldn’t enjoy a nice glass of wine along with my favorite gifted boys and girls, and Mel couldn’t take screencaps (it made her very sad, me too actually…) I do believe I ended up enjoying this movie more than I would have otherwise because of the communal experience.
Not all anime is enhanced by these considerations. There are those deeply meaningful stories that touch me on a personal basis which I tend to enjoy more on my home turf. But for the fun, slightly shallow, breathless type, I had forgotten the visceral impact of sharing the experience with other fans. I’m really glad I made the effort to go watch something outside of my house.
So how about you guys? Do you enjoy watching anime in theaters or is it more of a hassle than anything else. Are there specific types of movies you like seeing with strangers? Wanna go catch a show sometimes? I snuck that in there…smooth!