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Run Fast: The First San Francisco Japan Film Festival Already Half Way Over

Mika Ninagawa's 'Helter Skelter.' Still courtesy New York Asian Film Festival.

Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro's 190-million-dollar love letter to Kaiju (monster battle epics), may appear to the unobservant to have come out of left field, but anyone paying attention knows that cheesy Japanese robot-sploitation raised multiple generations of kids in the US–from Saturday morning staple Ultraman to the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, and all the spinoffs in between. Super Mario? Sonic the Hedgehog? Bonk? Like Louis CK, whose real last name is actually the Hungarian "Szekely" (and who is technically a Mexican), a simple change of name may have blinded you to the fact that they’re all Japanese.

OK ...so you probably already knew that Mario was Japanese. Even though San Francisco may have lost its bid to be Tokyo’s sister city to New York (we settled for Osaka), the city has always been somewhat of a second home to all things Japanese. Why it took SF this long to get its own Japanese Film Festival is anyone's guess, but it’s finally here. And halfway over. Fear not: if you didn’t get an eyeful at this weekend’s J-Pop Summit Festival, there’s still plenty of spectacle in the fest's last week.

Anime and manga adaptations are the bread and butter of the festival, and the good news is that while we’re almost all out of the first, including giant robot sensation Evangelion’s sold-out third installment, You Can (Not) Redo, there are still plenty of the the latter. Space Battleship Yamato, which you may remember in its dreadfully-dubbed US incarnation as “Star Blazers” (if you are a total dork like me) is one crazy ride. Library Wars, which is about two rival future forces at war over the right to read books, and Helter Skelter, a plastic surgery horror story about an adorable teenage model are also primed to recalibrate your face into something resembling a melting pink emoji.

For anime fiends there are also more screenings of the latest from Mamoru Hosado, the creator of last year’s surprisingly popular The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Hosado's newest, Wolf Children, is about a pair of cute little kids that are half wolf, and Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning is about ...um ...a tiger and a bunny, presumably. For anyone too “cultured” to endure the above tomfoolery, the fest also rescreens Kaspar Astrup Schroder’s SFIFF gem Rent A Family, Inc. this evening.

See video

The trailer for Helter Skelter is pretty.

The San Francisco Japan Film Festival runs through August 4th at New People Cinema, 1746 Post Street, San Francisco.