- You don’t know what you’re missing until you see it for yourself
Some incredible news in the horizon for Sri Lankan anime fans as Scope Cinemas will soon be screening Japanese anime films in their theatres. Speaking with Brunch, Scope Cinemas Director/Chief Executive Officer Thushan Meemanage shared: “Scope has always been sensitive to its audience and this decision is largely due to the continuous discourse we’ve had with our patrons who have expressed their interest in being able to watch more East Asian content on the big screen”.
Meemanage noted that the decision to feature East Asian content, particularly Japanese anime, isn’t entirely a profit-making venture, as the market research would indicate that the audience for such content is rather niche. It would be fair to assume that it is a very limited audience. However, he said that regardless of the numbers, it is often the avid moviegoers who have expressed their love of diverse cinema, and so they’ve made efforts to make these films available.
We spoke to a number of avid cinema enthusiasts to get their opinion of this new venture by Scope Cinemas, and many of them expressed that it is most certainly a positive first step to see Lankan cinema industry embrace more diverse mediums of cinema.
Sharing his thoughts on this new move by Scope, Chamath Alwis an avid moviegoer said: “I think we should have more anime in theatres and make it mainstream. There is a lot of breadth and depth in the genre, covering a host of subjects and themes while at times evoking strong emotions. I think the Sri Lankan moviegoer would greatly benefit from anime being there on a regular basis.”
Sri Lankan filmmaker Akash Sunethkumara also shared his thoughts on the matter stating: “Hollywood has famously borrowed influences from Japanese anime. Much of the Hollywood mainstream is inspired by anime, especially films like The Matrix,” he said, adding: “The genre is also known for its compelling stories, especially films by Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli.”
Interestingly, Akash also shared this could be a great first step in inspiring a whole new generation of creatives, he said that this is likely to inspire Sri Lankan youth to maybe get into animation. “We don’t really know what we are missing until we are actually exposed to it,” he said, adding that if we are able to get eyes on this different medium of storytelling, the possibilities are endless. He did note however that the starting out will certainly be for a limited, and very niche audience – however, it has great potential to grow.
Speaking to filmmaker Yasodhara Kariyawasam, she too shared that as a young filmmaker she was inspired by the works of Miyazaki, films such as Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away and even Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, and multiple others were great influences in her life, in inspiring her to pursue the art of filmmaking. “The level of detail, the thematic depth in these works all have been so inspiring to me and it is sure to inspire others,” she said.
Meemanage shared that they hope to introduce dedicated theatre space for films from all over the world in their upcoming six screen multiplex at Havelock City. He noted that, while the development project has been delayed for the time being to certain prevailing conditions in the country, they hope to have their services ready by the end of 2022.
With the world becoming more welcoming towards embracing each other’s differences, opening one’s eyes to the different cultures, languages, and art forms is simply the natural progression of present day life. Introducing Sri Lankan audiences to Japanese anime and eventually more diverse art, is but the first step in creating a multicultural, free thinking, and a more empathetic consumer.