6th Annual Cherry Blossom Anime Marathon

Cherry Blossom time has bloomed once more over Washington, DC and with it comes the 6th Annual Cherry Blossom Anime Marathon at the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Taking place this Saturday, April 5th, four films will be featured in this day long event. Based on their official website, this year's event includes a costume show courtesy of the DC Anime Club as well as surprise special guests. Tickets are free for all films, but be sure to come in as early as possible, as tickets are available on a first come basis, and take it for me, they go by fast. Ticket distribution will begin at 10:30 AM Saturday morning (limit 2 per person per film). If you plan to get there by 9:30 or 10:00, expect a long line.

This years line-up, of which 3 are presented in Japanese with English subtitles are:

11:30 AM
Jungle Emperor Leo
Adapted from a manga comic by the legendary Osamu Tezuka, this charming fable directed by Yoshio Takeuchi is a treat for animal lovers of all ages. Leo, a majestic white lion, rules the jungle at the foot of mysterious Moon Mountain, living in harmony with the other beasts – until humans show up and threaten to shatter their peaceful existence. 1997 / 100 min., Rated PG, Dubbed in English.

2:30 PM
Atagoal: Cat's Magical Forest
Hideyoshi is, literally, a fat cat who loves nothing more than gorging himself on tuna and rocking out at the annual town festival in the magical land of Atagoal. He gets into trouble, however, when he accidentally releases the imprisoned Botanical Queen Pileah, who has sinister plans for Hideyoshi and his feline friends. Mizuho Nishikubo’s film is fun for the whole family. 2006 / 81 min., suitable for all ages.

5:00 PM
5 Centimeters Per Second
The title of Makoto Shinkai’s wistful coming-of-age film describes the velocity at which cherry blossom petals fall – a metaphor for the impermanence of human relationships that is the theme of its three connected stories. Each story takes place at a different point in the lives of the film’s three main characters, from puppy love thwarted by a family move, to an unrequited teenage crush, to melancholy reminiscences in adulthood. 2007 / 62 min., unrated, appropriate for all ages.

7:00 PM
Appleseed: Ex Machina
The year is 2138. Society is divided between humans and peaceful cyborgs developed to prevent the wars that killed half of the world’s population. But what happens when nefarious forces find a way to make them violent? Inspired by a popular manga comic, Shinji Aramaki’s sci-fi brain twister offers state-of-the-art animation, thrilling action scenes, and a provocative meditation on what our world might become. 2007 / 105 min., PG-13.

In related news, the Freer Gallery is also featuring an Anime Artists Workshop on Saturday (1:00 pm, 3:00 pm, and Sunday 2:00 pm). Join ImaginAsia's Anime artists to see how contemporary artists refer to the Japanese tradition of action drawing to create their Anime characters and scenes. Bring your own drawings to share, and learn how to expand your drawing technique. The event is free of charge and participation is on a first come first serve basis, due to limited seating.

J-POP LAND is back again this year, so if you're in the area be sure to hit the street festival. Rock with Mitsumassyu, a J-POP music group from Tokyo that is back for its third year at the Sakura Matsuri. For more information, check out www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org.

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