Kobe Planet Film Archive

In the same trip to check on Kyoto film archives, I also went to Kobe to visit the Kobe Planet Film Archive (Kobe Eiga Shiryokan). 

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It's located about a five minute walk from Shin-Nagata Station on the JR line on the second floor of a shopping complex. The area was one of the worst hit during the Kobe Earthquake in 1995 (which I experienced in Kyoto), so much of the area is newly rebuilt. The neighborhood is known among anime and manga fans as the location of the Tetsujin 28-go monument (the robot hero of the Yokoyama Mitsuteru manga/anime that was released in the USA as Gigantor) that was built as a symbol of local revival in 2009.


The Film Archive opened in March 2007 with support from the city as another element in Kobe's revival plan. It is managed by Yasui Yoshio, one of the core figures in the Kansai film scene. He runs the Planet Bibliotheque de Cinema in Osaka, a private film library that also manages a small theater, Planet + 1. He has unearthed a number of important films, including most recently two of Ofuji Noburo's animated films, and co-authored books like Osaka ni Toyo 1 no satsueijo ga atta koro. I've known him since 1993, when he was coordinating the historical retrospectives of Japanese documentary for the Yamagata Film Festival. We also ventured off to Minamata together to interview Tsuchimoto Noriaki and he provided the prints for my wife's DVD, Roots of Japanese Anime

Kobe now holds most of what Planet held, though there are still some materials in Osaka. The Kobe Planet Film Archive has a small 38-seat theater (using seats salvaged from a closed movie house) that shows regular films and a cafe, but the core is the archive. The print materials can be viewed on site - if you can find them. Yasui's staff is slowly creating a catalog on computer, but a lot of materials are still in boxes. The film collection is impressive, but as a small private archive, with only limited public funding, it is not really a place for researchers to come to watch films. (I also worry about their film vaults, which are not equipped with the state of the art air conditioning.) What will happen to this all when Yasui-san retired is a matter of great concern.

If you are a researcher in the Kansai area, the Kobe Planet Film Archive is definitely a place to visit, and Yasui-san a person to know. Shin-Nagata, however, is now lacking of young people, so the theater does not get big audiences. Even if you are not a scholar, please go and check out their movies!

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