The big-screen release of a new mood-enhancing Hayao Miyazaki film (such as this weeks Ponyo) is big news to the growing cadre of Japanese animation aficionados, who usually rely on DVD for their fix. Since the short-lived anime screening room in the bowels of the Metreon, there hasnt been a venue in town offering a consistent, communal alternative to home video. VIZ Cinema, a classy and intimate 143-seat theater showing Japanese films and anime, aims to fill that vital void. The downstairs venue is part of the Japanese pop-culture emporium New People, which opens Aug. 15 with a bevy of specialty shops offering clothes, art, and accessories. VIZ Cinema breaks the seal with the local premiere of the first entry in Yukihiko Tsutsumis 20th Century Boys trilogy. Beginning of the End plays for two weeks (Aug. 15-27), overlapping with the second chapter, The Last Hope (Aug. 21-28), and peaking with the U.S. premiere of Redemption (Aug. 28-Sept. 3). And what about all the patient anime fans? You shall be rewarded with the first screenings on these shores of Bleach the Movie: The Diamond Dust Rebellion (Aug. 18 and 19). Hello Kitty is so, so yesterday.
Mon., Aug. 17, 2:30 p.m., 2009