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Anime Double Features at Aero Theatre

SANTA MONICA — The following anime double features will be playing at the Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave. in Santa Monica:

Thursday, Sept. 12

“Ninja Scroll” (1993, 94 minutes), directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. In feudal Japan, mercenary swordsman Jubei saves a young ninja woman from the unthinkable; together, the two investigate the mysterious deaths of an entire village, uncovering a conspiracy of demonic proportions. As they get closer to the truth, the supernatural forces will stop at nothing to silence Jubei and his companion for good.

“Vampire Hunter D” (1985, 80 minutes) directed by Toyoo Ashida. Based on the Hideyuki Kikuchi novel, this stylish anime favorite takes place in the year 12,090 A.D., when technology and the supernatural have overtaken the world, leaving the land desolate and despotic. The remnants of humanity are scattered into small communities, and live in fear of vampires who compose the ruling nobility. When Count Magnus Lee tastes the blood of Doris Lang, she is forcibly chosen to be his next wife. In an effort to escape her ill-gotten fate, she hires a mysterious vampire hunter known only as D, who comes from a peculiar lineage.

Friday, Sept. 13

“Millennium Actress” (2001, 87 minutes), directed by Satoshi Kon. When the legendary Ginei Studios shuts down, filmmaker Genya Tachibana and his assistant are tasked with interviewing its reclusive star, Chiyoko Fujiwara, who retired from the spotlight 30 years prior. As she recounts her career, Genya and his crew are literally pulled into her memories, where they witness her chance encounter with a mysterious man on the run from the police. Despite never knowing his name or his face, Chiyoko relentlessly pursues that man in a seamless blend of reality and memory that only Kon could deliver.

“Perfect Blue” (1997, 81 minutes), directed by Satoshi Kon. The groundbreaking first film from legendary director Kon is an iconic psychological thriller that has frequently been hailed as one of the most important animated films of all time. Rising pop star Mima has quit singing to pursue a career as an actress and model, but her fans aren’t ready to see her go. Encouraged by her managers, Mima takes on a recurring role on a popular TV show, when suddenly her handlers and collaborators begin turning up murdered. Harboring feelings of guilt and haunted by visions of her former self, Mima’s reality and fantasy meld into a frenzied paranoia. As her stalker closes in, in person and online, the threat he poses is more real than even Mima knows. This film is recommended for ages 17 and older.

Saturday, Sept. 14

“Redline” (2009, 102 minutes), directed by Takeshi Koike. Koike’s feature debut is a sensory assault that plays out like “Death Race 2000” on crack. Speed demon JP (Takuya Kimura) is determined to win the Redline, a violent intergalactic drag race set to take place on a planet run by warlike cyborgs.

“Ghost in the Shell” (1995, 82 minutes), directed by Mamoru Oshii. Oshii’s anime masterpiece anticipates many of the themes from “The Matrix.” In the near future, a sentient computer program named Project 2501 tries to control the cyber and human worlds; standing in its way is kick-ass, super-sexy cyborg cop, Major Motoko Kusanagi, and her team at Section 9.

Sunday, Sept. 15

“Grave of the Fireflies” (1988, 89 minutes), directed by Isao Takahata. This stark drama, adapted from Nosaka Akiyuki’s semiautobiographical novel, is one of Studio Ghibli’s greatest achievements. Left to fend for themselves after their home is firebombed during the closing days of World War II, teen Seita and his 5-year-old sister Setsuko struggle to survive.

“Only Yesterday” (1991, 118 minutes), directed by Isao Takahata. Realizing that she is at a crossroads in her life, bored 20-something Taeko heads for the countryside. The trip dredges up forgotten childhood memories that unfold in flashback to younger years: the first immature stirrings of romance, the onset of puberty, the frustrations of math and boys. In lyrical switches between the present and the past, Taeko wonders if she has been true to the dreams of her childhood self. Produced by Hayao Miyazaki, this is a double period piece that beautifully evokes both the 1960s and the 1980s, and the quintessential drama of Japanese schoolday nostalgia. Studio Ghibli is known for its female heroines, from Princesses Nausicaa and Mononoke to Kiki to Ponyo, but with “Only Yesterday” it delves deeper into the real emotional experiences of girls/women than perhaps any animated film before or since.

All programs start at 7:30 p.m. and are in Japanese with English subtitles. For trailers and ticket information, visit:

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