FRI’s eye:A style of anime movie screening which has developed only in Japan: “Cheering Screenings”

“KING OF PRISM by Pretty Rhythm”, popularly known as “KIN-PURI”, has become a bit of a strange hit in Japan. This movie began its screenings in January of this year, and was schedule to only play for 3 weeks and be limited to only 6 theaters. But this style of “Cheering Screenings” became widely discussed by word of mouth, until the number of public theaters showing it increased to 90. Even now it is still being screened, in what was become a truly long-running release. Why has “KING-PURI” become such a bit hit? Let’s explore the secret behind its success.

■ What is “KIN-PURI”
“KIN-PURI” is a spin off movie based on the 2013 anime “Pretty Rhythm: Rainbow Live”. The main characters of “Pretty Rhythm: Rainbow Live” engage in competitions called “Prism Shows”, where they test their singing, dancing, fashion and outfit coordination abilities. This movie tells the story of a group of boys who want to participate in these “KIN-PURI” shows and become its contestants, also known as “Prism Stars”. These boys aspire to become like their heroes, the unit called “Over The Rainbow” which was formed in the last episode of “Pretty Rhythm: Rainbow Live”, so the movie maintains a link with the show.

■ A variety of screening styles
In recent years DVDs and smartphones have become the norm, and as a consequence it is rumored that movie theaters are becoming obsolete. However, they’re not giving up and formats such as 3D, 4DX / MX4D or IMAX are still attracting many viewers to the theaters. “Girls und Panzer: The Movie” (2015) has been screened in many different ways, such as the normal “4DX Screening”, as well as an additional “Extreme Screening” which raises 4DX’s motion to the max; the “Masala Screening”, originated in India, in which viewers can sing and dance freely; or the “High-Quality Explosive Sound Screening”, in which specialized audio equipment is installed. The style chosen by “KIN-PURI” was the so-called “Cheering Screening”, where attendants dress up in cosplay, carry glow sticks, chant their support and even chant at the screen. Japan is usually a country where “movies are to be watched in silence”, so this is a very rare style of movie appreciation.

■ The reasons behind KIN-PURI’s success
We suppose that the first example of a movie screening in Japan where viewers could shout out loud was probably “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The MOVIE 1st” (2010), and after that there have been others which have also allowed Cheering Screenings, such as “Love Live!”, “THE IDOL M@ASTER” or “Pretty Cure”. The difference between these previous titles and “KIN-PURI” is that: (1) From the very start the movie was made with the intention of being shown in Cheering Screenings, and (2) It has had a much wider publicity thanks to its passionate fans recommending it to everyone, and its word-of-mouth diffusion.

■ The spectators also play a part
In all Cheering Screenings so far, it was normal for the audience to sing and dance during the main parts of the movie. However, in the case of “KIN-PURI” the musical parts are obviously there too, but besides these there are many other parts made for the audience to participate in. Whenever subtitles appear, the audience speaks them out, and whenever there are no subtitles the audience can also find the right timing to shout out whatever they want. There are even some characters whose lines are the audience’s responsibility, and you can tell them apart because their faces are not drawn. (You can see what it’s like by checking this video: https://youtu.be/FIJk6pT8U_A ).

■ Word-of-mouth diffusion via Twitter is incredible
If you search on Twitter for the Japanese hashtags “#キンプリ” (#KIN-PURI) or “#キンプリはいいぞ” (#KIN-PURI is great) you will find many comments like “I want to go see it so many times!”, “Only people who have seen it will understand how amazing it is”, or even comic strips documenting people’s experiences. Even if one doesn’t understand what they’re talking about, the amount of posted tweets is huge. Also, users who have already seen it will exchange information such as “the audience in this theater is especially motivated!”, or whenever it is revealed that a specific theater allows people to bring sticks of celery (a key item in the plot) an avalanche of comments will appear in response, praising that movie theater. All this has really helped spread the word.

■ Its connection with Japanese culture
The concept of creating a show in which the audience can chant out loud already exists in Kabuki. In Kabuki, experienced viewers are called the “Omuko”, and it is normal for them to call out things like “We’ve been waiting for that!” or “—Ya!” (referring to the title of an actor’s guild whenever he appears), in order to pump up the play’s atmosphere. In some plays, the actors even respond to these calls. Apart from this, there are also many TV programs where the show includes some parts where the the audience chant out specific lines all together in response to the TV host’s famous catchphrases. One could probably include “KIN-PURI” as one more example of these “shows which are created with the audience in mind”.

The more support we give to movie theaters, the more kinds of different movie experiences we will be able to attend. This is surely one of the aspects which makes watching movies at the theater so much fun! As in the case of “KIN-PURI”, maybe one day each individual movie theater will be able to propose its own unique way of enjoying a movie, so that a whole new way of enjoying movies could arise, allowing us to watch the same movie many different times in different theaters.

(Article by: Komuro)

Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.

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