Modern fans are used to every anime being available at a click of a button. So, you can imagine the hype around Gothicmade, an anime that most fans will never get the chance to see.
It feels completely alien, even slightly offensive, for there to be something unavailable regardless of how much you’re willing to pay to see it. So, what’s the story behind this slightly mythical anime, and is it worth the hype?
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Gothicmade: Mamoru Nagano’s Unrefined Passion Project
Gothicmade is a feature-length (70 minutes) anime film created by Mamoru Nagano, a legendary figure in the world of mecha thanks to his design work on anime from the 1980s, including Gundam and Heavy Metal L-Gaim.
Gothicmade is set in the world of Five Star Stories, Nagano’s iconic manga first released in 1986 and still technically serialised to this day.
Nagano’s popularity is largely down to his incredible level of detail. It’s a trait he chalks up to his obsessive personality from childhood, as highlighted in an interview with Forbes’ Ollie Barder:
“I had very deep knowledge, almost encyclopedic, compared to my friends. The same went for things like fighting vehicles, as in which model did what. I had all this deep knowledge, whereas my friends were more passive.”
This deep craving for obsessive detail is a vital part of the Gothicmade story.
Gothicmade was, in terms of staff, a tiny production. It was Nagano’s first experience directing an anime and he assembled a small team, including just three key animators, to help bring his ideas to the screen.
While the staff was small, the ambition was off the charts. Nagano wanted to use the film as a way to reinvent Five Star Stories and retconned key pieces of the manga’s lore for the project, including renaming the series’ Mortar Headd mecha class into the titular Gothicmade.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the scope of ambition, Gothicmade fell short in some areas (many that have seen it comment on static animation and overbearing, inconsequential exposition) and didn’t achieve notable success.
However, Gothicmade’s newfound place as “the anime you can’t watch” has given it something of a cult following.
So Why Can’t I Watch Gothicmade?
Ultimately, it appears that Gothicmade is unavailable because Nagano has explicitly denied the film’s release outside of cinemas. However, there are a few reasons for this.
One reason is the film’s native resolution. Produced over six years to a level of detail more akin to manga than anime, Gothicmade’s various shots reportedly see it go from 4K all the way to 12K resolution.
A second reason is the sound quality. Nagano has spoken about his pride in how they engineered the sound, and among those lucky to have seen it, that is a feature consistently praised.
Both Gotchicmade’s resolution and sound quality would have to be downscaled if the movie was to be released digitally or for home video, and it seems that Nagano has refused to budge.
So, right now, the only way anyone is able to watch the movie is when it is released in cinemas.
Hope for Gothicmade Fans
Gothicmade was originally released in cinemas in 2012. However, as word of the film continues to spread, more people are becoming interested.
The film occasionally gets screenings at special events and was a big attraction at this year’s Niigata International Animation Film Festival, where Nagano fielded a Q&A about the film.
Gothicmade isn’t unwatchable because Nagano doesn’t want anyone to see it, he just wants people to see it the way he intended – on the big screen with incredible sound.
As interest in the film continues to grow, there’s every chance the film may appear in cinemas or festivals outside of Japan soon.
Then, in a utopian future where 12K screens and Dolby Atmos sound are part of our everyday lives, maybe it’ll appear on your subscription service.
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