Tartan Shorts – Manga! – Akira – tape 1640

First on this tape, a couple of entries in the Tartan Shorts season.

First, A Small Deposit written by Danny McCahon and directed by Eleanor Yule, about a community in Port Glasgow in 1946.

A young boy gets his football confiscated by the owner of the local chippy when he kicks his dirty ball against her shop window. In retaliation he tosses a dead rat into her fryer, an act that he will regret later.

The plot of this short film revolves around the arrival of the Tic man, who sells luxury goods on ‘tic’ – a small deposit, then weekly payments.

The whole community band together, and fashion a fake address and front door in an upstairs toilet in a block of flats, then make a big order of stuff from him, give him his deposit, and then, presumably, he can’t find them because the address doesn’t exist.

The young boy gets a brand new football, and has dreams of a cup final, until the chippy catches up with him and confiscates that ball too.

The next short is Rain in which a local relief weather presenter has to take his son to work. Nice to see Jake D’Arcy from Gregory’s Girl and Tutti Frutti as a security guard.

The last short here is Franz Kafka’s It’s A Wonderful Life, written and directed by none other than Peter Capaldi, and which provides us with the answer to the perfect pub quiz question: Which Doctor Who has won an Oscar? Capaldi won the Best Live Action Short Film Oscar in (I’m guessing) 1994 for this film.

It opens with a nice stylised miniature of a steep village.

Franz Kafka is struggling with the first line of his book Metamorphosis. “As Gregor Samsa awoke, he found himself transformed into a gigantic… what?” Kafka is played by Richard E Grant.

He casts around for what the transformation might produce. A Banana?

His work is interrupted by Ken Stott, a knife sharpener looking for someone.

And his downstairs neighbour, who’s having a party for young ladies, with music.

Their modern dancing inspires another possible metamorphosis, a Kangaroo.

Someone from the local joke shop misdelivers a bug costume.

This is a very atmospheric and ultimately heartwarming, and silly, film.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 3rd January 1994 – 22:30

After this recording switches and there’s a documentary from Jonathan Ross, Manga! Which looks at the (then fairly new) popularity of Japanese Manga (the comics) and Anime (the films and TV shows).

Jonathan Ross, a fan himself, presents the documentary, seeming from the Sega arcade on the South Bank. Check out those 1990s arcade games.

It’s nice to see that, despite the title, Ross correctly identifies the movies as Anime and comics as Manga. Nothing winds a fan up more than using Manga for the movies.

It’s lovely to see a clip from Marine Boy, a very early anime that I used to love as a very small boy.

Some Network 7 style explanatory graphics.

Helen McCarthy was editor of Anime UK magazine.

Manga explained.

The creator and director of Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo

Studio Ghibli’s greatest director, Hayao Miyazaki

Gaikokujin is the term for a foreigner, in a discussion about foreign artists starting to work for the Japanese publishers.

Another definition, for ‘Bishojo’.

It’s sad to see even someone like Miyazaki advocating limits on time spent viewing stuff.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th January 1994 – 19:30

After this, there’s the first showing on British Television of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, one of the movies that helped propel Anime and Manga into the western consciousness. This is a subtitled presentation, which helps a lot. English dubs of Anime often sound strange, and subtitled films always seem just a little bit more intellectual than films in English, to me at least.

I watched this a long time ago, and I have to say, its themes of biker gangs and scientifically enhanced telepaths didn’t really grab me. I find the breathless nature of the Anime style quite distancing. Cool bikes, though.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 8th January 1994 – 23:05

After this, a trailer for Sunday Night on BBC2.

Then, recording continues with an episode of Later with Jools Holland, featuring Sounds of Blackness, PJ Harvey, Alice in Chains, Vince Gill and Maria McKee.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 9th January 1994 – 01:05

There’s a trail for Radio 3’sw The Music Machine.

Then, BBC2 closes down, and Hamla Kozak (sp?) wishes us a very good night.



  1. The only thing that really the stuck with me from “Marine Boy” was the Seven Arts Television logo at the beginning. Which preferable to the one thing that stuck from”Akira” the girl getting crushed to a pulp by a tentacle. I did not much like “Akira” (I caught the airing you did).

  2. Watching Marine Boy on a Saturday morning is one of my earliest TV memories.

    Akira is often held up as the anime that “serious” Western film buffs like, but it doesn’t seem to be the case on this page! It’s the only Japanese cartoon I’ve ever seen in a cinema (I was impressed).

  3. I recall seeing the Kafka/Capaldi short years back, but the premise of Kafka just struggling for an opening line feels in retrospect the sort of thing any half-decent sketch show of the last 50 years could knock out and finish off in a few minutes, so how they worked it to 20 minutes and an Oscar seems all the more incredible.
    I also recall struggling to watch Akira on the principle that it was an important film etc, but I suspect I fell asleep.

  4. Around this time it certainly was the breakthrough film, so I felt a bit out of it because I didn’t love it. I even collected the republished comic for a while, but I’m not sure I ever read more than the first couple of issues. But then, I collected a lot of comics in those days.

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