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After School Midnighters ("Hokago middonaitazu")

North American Premiere
  • Japan
  • 2012
  • 94 mins
  • DCP
  • Japanese
  • English (subtitles)
Official Selection, Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2013
Official Selection, Raindance Film Festival 2012
Official Selection, Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival 2012

“Embraces its insanity with glee… a perfect festival film… best watched with a crowd that you can laugh along with” – Andy Hanley, U.K. ANIME NETWORK

“A good mix of – uncensored – humour and intelligence… more than just a fun ride for the kids” – JAPAN CINEMA

Have you heard the urban legends about St. Claire’s Elementary School? The tiny trio of perky, talkative Mako, vain and petulant Miko and quiet, morbid Mutsuko, three little girls visiting the school, certainly haven’t. When they find the school’s science lab boarded up for demolition, they can’t help but explore — and get up to mischief, vandalizing the human anatomical model with silly graffiti. As night falls, though, the gruesome mannequin (named Louis Thomas Jerome Kunstlijk, thank you very much) comes to life, along with his skeletal pal Goth and a trio of gun-toting gangster bunny corpses enlisted to bring the girls in for punishment. While Kunstlijk may have all manner of mad science at his disposal (even a time machine!), he’s soon overwhelmed by the antics of the irrepressible girls. The three girls embark on an all-night contest to win three gold medals from the assorted supernatural spirits lurking around the school. Creatures of the night, you’ve met your match in Mi, Mu and Mako!

Japan’s 2D anime industry is without equal internationally, but its 3D digital-animation family fare hasn’t met the standards set by American studios like Pixar — until now. Built up from a cute short film director Hitoshi Takekiyo made for France’s Canal+ in 2007, the debut feature from the award-winning company Koo-Ki has been submitted for an Oscar, and damn, if it doesn’t deserve it. Visually, AFTER SCHOOL MIDNIGHTERS will make your eyes pop out (just ask Kunstlijk, he can’t seem to keep his peepers in place!). Anatomical models brought to life, crazy scientific devices, highly original spooks and critters, and wild-and-wooly action scenes — plus a dazzling musical number — are all astounding to watch. And the utterly maniacal storyline is loaded with naughty gags and disturbing imagery (and a couple of truly eerie scares) that wouldn’t make it past the first American production meeting. A spunky, spectacular spook-fest that’s truly unique in its vision and loaded with enthusiastic energy and big-heartedness, AFTER SCHOOL MIDNIGHTERS is a lesson in laughs you’ll want to stay up all night for!

— Rupert Bottenberg