Anime on silver screen
For the joy of anime fans in the city, the Bangalore Anime Club is organising meets at anime film screenings for a shared community experience
BENGALURU: If you switched channels on television in the early 2000s, especially the cartoon channels, sooner or later you’d have stumbled across a channel that called itself Animax. And if you were someone in your preteens or early-teens, you’d have noticed how it looked very different compared to every other cartoon channel on television.
To adults, all cartoons looked the same. But you knew that something was different, and you were right! Animax used to only air anime, which are animated shows and films created in Japan. When PVR Cinemas and INOX started screening anime films in India, the Bangalore Anime Club (BAC) started holding meetups at theatres to create a shared-viewing experience for the many anime fans in the city.
The initiative started after the release of Makoto Shinkai’s film Weathering With You on October 11, 2019. For the first time in Bengaluru, fans of anime got a chance to watch some of their favourite characters unveil their greatness on the big screen whilst being surrounded by people who shared common interests.
BAC’s latest movie meet happened at the screening of the new Dragon Ball Super (DBS) movie Super Hero on August 27, 2022, at Garuda Mall. However, they ran into some trouble. “So when PVR Cinemas and INOX released this film, they tried to push the Hindi dub for the film across the country. That didn’t sit well with not just BAC but also anime clubs in other cities like Chennai and Hyderabad.
As fans, we are very comfortable watching anime in Japanese with English subtitles. So multiple clubs from various cities protested and the Hindi dub was eventually put down. On top of this, we weren’t given enough time to promote the film either,” shares Rahul Karan Diwakar, one of the admins of BAC. He adds that due to various instances of miscommunication between BAC and the theatre authorities, they weren’t able to sell 100 tickets, which was the target.
However, even though BAC managed to sell about 85 tickets in a limited time, only about 40 people showed up for the DBS movie. Pranav Ganapathiraju, another BAC admin, feels this is a recurring problem in the community. “This tends to happen at most events. Unless it’s done in an already established event like Comic Con, not everyone shows up. I feel since the day of the screening was a Saturday, people just had other plans and we also announced the meetup on a somewhat short notice,” says Ganapathiraju.
BAC is planning to organise another collective meetup once the upcoming film of the One Piece franchise called One Piece: Red, the 15th film of the franchise, releases on October 7. Diwakar feels that at this screening, things will sail smoothly. “Since we have adequate time to plan our promotions, I’m confident things will work out better and we would be able to achieve the 100 ticket target with enough fans attending the event as well,” says Diwakar.
However, before One Piece: Red, BAC will also organise an event for the Shin Ultraman film, which is set to release on September 23. Despite the increase of fans in this country, anime is still considered niche when it comes to releases for the big screen. Weathering With You, which was the highest grossing film of 2019 in Japan, earned over Rs 6.6 million in its opening box office collections in India making it the biggest opening for a foreign film (non-English).
While this opened doors for other anime films to be released in the country, sales like that of Shinkai’s film isn’t a common occurrence. Suhas Sheikh, a student of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), who joined BAC in 2019, feels the existence of such clubs is pertinent to the growth of anime culture in the country. “Before I joined BAC, I used to watch anime casually. I wasn’t aware of the cast and crew behind these productions.
As an anime fan in India, being part of such a club is important for getting to know the entire anime industry as a whole. I feel joining any city-based anime club will also help the newer fans not get lost in the sea and give them the exposure they seek. You also make a lot of friends along the way,” says Sheikh, who has also organised multiple BAC anime quizzes, which are usually held at IISc.