Award-winning Works
Animation Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

Social Impact Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • SUGAWA Akiko
    Professor, Institute of Urban Innovation Yokohama National University
    Life Becomes Visible Today after Transformation by the Pandemic
    The Animation Division received a total of 565 entries
    this year. Amid the unceasing COVID-19 pandemic,
    production in a restrictive environment must have been
    harder than expected. Therefore, getting a greater number of entries than last year was a joyful surprise for
    the jury.
    My overall impression was that there were many entries with “death” for a theme or motif. This may have
    something to do with both physical and visual experiences of “death,” literally, in our everyday life through
    the news about the world-shaking pandemic and political unrest. However, outstanding works tended to be
    highly critical in nature, such as reinterpreting humanism and “life” through the image of “death,” rather than
    portraying “death” itself.
    Among such diverse works, the Grand Prize winner,
    The Fourth Wall, stood out not only for its unique motif,
    but also for its totally unexpected visual aspect. “The
    fourth wall” is a theatrical term meaning the boundary
    between fiction (story) and the audience. It is interesting that a microcosm representing a relationship within
    a family invades the audience’s world through pointof-view shots and whirlpool-like spinning images. The
    mother becomes a washing machine, and the father
    becomes a refrigerator viewed from the child’s point of
    view. The expression of dripping water is also excellent.
    A wide variety of works won the Excellence Awards: the
    animated feature film Dozens of Norths, the animated
    short film Letter to a Pig, the animated feature film
    FORTUNE FAVORS LADY NIKUKO, and the animated
    TV series Sonny Boy. The former two works demonstrate a willingness to move forward while struggling,
    even though their major themes are negative, such
    as human suffering, death, and anxiety. The latter two
    are entertaining, yet I think they address the major
    themes for young people: What is life and how to
    perceive the world?
    The Social Impact Award went to PUI PUI MOLCAR,
    which is a stop-motion animation featuring unique puppet characters, guinea pigs with wheels. Loaded with
    funny jokes, the series deals with topics that make both
    children and adults think, “This happens in real life.” The
    work is befitting the Social Impact Award, in the sense
    of being the first three-minute animated short series
    featuring puppets that went so viral.
    The New Face Award went to the animated TV series
    ODDTAXI, animated short films A Bite of Bone, and Yallah! All of them encompass “death,” but their outputs
    vary. ODDTAXI can be classified as a mystery entertainment film that associates issues in modern society
    with the accidental deaths of the protagonist’s parents
    and the mysterious death of a prospective pop star. Terrors hidden in a convenient and familiar world—online
    auctions, in-game purchases, and social networking
    services—also startled me. A Bite of Bone depicts the
    inner world of a child (the artist), inspired by the custom of chewing bones of the dead after cremation. I
    was engrossed in the film, as the impressive pointillist
    technique and expression of light ingeniously make the
    story of death and trauma fantastical. Yallah! is a 3D
    CG film inspired by the 1982 civil war in Beirut. The
    contrast between a boy who is determined to go to a
    swimming pool and a frustrated grownup is interesting,
    even though it takes place in a war-torn world where
    “death” is close at hand. Even a child’s modest wish
    for swimming can be a major issue; the film shows us
    such absurdity.
    In my three years of serving on the jury, it has been a
    great honor and joy to glimpse the transition of various
    animation techniques and expressions in such a short
    period of time. There were many excellent works that
    missed awards but were comparable to the award-winners. In addition to the Award-winning Works mentioned
    here, there were 32 Jury Selections. I hope that you will
    enjoy them firsthand and find your own “favorite.”
  • OYAMA Kei
    Producer and CEO, CALF Co., Ltd.
    Adventurous Works Created in Diverse Fields
    This year’s entries had an abundance of excellent
    works, making it hard to select award winners. However, we were ultimately able to determine Award-winning
    Works and Jury Selections from each field (feature film,
    short film, and TV series) in a well-balanced manner.
    The Grand Prize-winning short film from Iran, The
    Fourth Wall, is a complex fusion of live action and various animation expressions. This film was highly praised
    as it profoundly provides a sense of the pristine comfort
    of animation to “animate inanimate objects” and innovatively produces a visual experience never seen before.
    The story and direction of the Excellence Awardwinner, Sonny Boy, are quite daring for a television
    series, successfully portraying an unrealistic world with
    a unique and thrilling reality. Another Excellence Awardwinning feature film, FORTUNE FAVORS LADY NIKUKO,
    cleverly incorporates “exaggeration” to transform an
    otherwise graphic and tragic subject into a humorous, easy-to-watch, and moving one. Both were highly
    esteemed for their enthusiasm to “tell a story through
    visual expressions unique to animation.” Dozens of
    Norths, the first feature film by director YAMAMURA
    Koji, who has produced many short films, took the jury
    members by surprise with its composition and direction
    that departs from the standard tactics of feature films.
    The New Face Award winners were also outstanding. In particular, A Bite of Bone, created with beautiful
    and striking pointillism and a transparent effect, brought
    me the joy of a new filmmaker’s birth and expectations
    for her future work. PUI PUI MOLCAR won the Social
    Impact Award not only for its excellent character design, story, and animation but also for the popularity of
    this short children’s TV program among diverse people
    of all nationalities and ages, gained through online distribution and social media.
    The judging session was very meaningful and reassured the jury that many promising films are being
    produced in various fields, expanding the possibilities
    of animation expression.
  • MIZUSAKI Jumpei
    Animation Director / CEO, Kamikaze Douga
    Modern Evaluation of Works Shared in Real Time
    The 25th Award-winning Works showed remarkable diversity and balance befitting the title of “Media Arts.”
    The judging process was truly fulfilling for me as well,
    having opportunities to see so many international and
    diverse animation expressions.
    The Grand Prize winner, The Fourth Wall, is a beautifully perfected work that makes viewers “experience”
    “something interesting even though how it’s made is
    a total mystery.” As I mentioned earlier, entries had a
    wider variation and more variety in the ways of expression, but most of the top-prize winners had one thing in
    common: the creators’ attention is directed toward the
    viewers, instead of showing off their drawing or technical skills.
    Meanwhile, I also found some issues in the course of
    the judging process. One such issue is the dilemma of
    evaluating only the submitted movie versions of works,
    such as Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie:
    Mugen Train and Revue Starlight The Movie. These
    works originally started as manga or TV series, and
    every context to create the movie version artfully led
    to moving people and becoming a great hit. From the
    standpoint of publicity for having a box office record, I
    wondered if the Social Impact Award (newly established
    the year before last) might be more appropriate. But PUI
    PUI MOLCAR, which went viral on its own without any
    context and is still fresh in people’s memories, got an
    advantage in this respect.
    The above-mentioned works such as Demon Slayer
    -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train surely provide excellent viewing experience to fans, so the result
    might have been different if it was possible for all jury
    members to have the real-time experience of all the
    steps from the beginning of the original work to the release of the movie, and if such an experience could be
    included in the scope of the judgment. In this modern
    age where real-time sharing is highly appreciated, one
    of the challenges for various competitions will be the
    pursuit of an evaluation system that goes with the
    movement happening at the moment.
  • GONDO Shunji
    Researcher of Animation History / Associate Professor, Tokyo Polytechnic University
    Beyond the Framework of Format
    After being a jury member for the first time, I recognized
    anew the unique standpoint of this Art Festival: evaluating works created by using a wide variety of platforms
    (film, TV, online distribution, etc.) and formats (feature
    films, short films, series, music videos, etc.) all together.
    Despite the inevitable hardship in determining criteria
    for evaluation, it turned out to be a valuable opportunity
    for me to ponder an ideal form of each format.
    Among the first things to be mentioned is the bountifulness of feature film works—a format considered to be
    rather “old.” The tendency of standardization and stereotyping can be occasionally found in terms of stories
    and themes, but in terms of images, I was amazed to
    find each work has an extremely high-level and comparable combination of drawing, art, and filming. I was
    personally impressed by two films: Mobile Suit GUNDAM Hathaway, which employs Western film-inspired
    drawing and direction to go beyond “realism” in conventional commercial animation, and Revue Starlight The
    Movie, which releases chaotic energy via a patchwork
    of Japanese program pictures and theatrical performances. It is interesting that the use of live-action films
    as reference in both films consequently demonstrates
    an ability that only animation can possess.
    As for the TV series, Sonny Boy outclassed all the
    others with its art style and plot development that are
    exceptional for a standard 30-minute 1-cour series. I’d
    like to highly praise the Social Impact Award winner, PUI
    PUI MOLCAR, for its significance in increasing the
    acceptance of stop-motion animation in Japan, where
    it has occupied a marginal position compared to in
    the West.
    Finally, I’d like to note that YAMAMURA Koji, a leading
    director in the short film industry that places a greater
    focus on the artist’s individual aesthetics, created his
    first feature film, Dozens of Norths, while maintaining
    the same tension as his short film series. An increasing number of short film makers advance into feature
    films worldwide, and the significance and potential of
    this trend will probably become a subject of discussion
    in the future.
  • FUJITSU Ryota
    Anime Critic
    How to Evaluate a Workʼs Theme
    I participated in the 25th Japan Media Arts Festival as
    a jury member for the first time. For me, this was a very
    enlightening experience. Everything was truly instructive, from watching foreign short films that I usually see
    rarely, the need to make an effort to verbalize my value
    judgments, to the experience of understanding other
    members’ evaluation criteria.
    I believe the judging process itself went well, although I have nothing to compare with since it was my
    first time. It seemed to me that it was not only because
    the jury members had clear evaluation criteria, but
    because we shared an idea about what kind of works
    should win awards (i.e., whether a work demonstrates
    an approach and message of the Animation Division).
    Precisely because we had a shared idea of our goal,
    we smoothly reached the result in which “everything fit
    into the right place,” even though the result rested on a
    very delicate balance. This was also a great experience
    for me.
    In the course of the judging process, I found it hard
    to evaluate the theme of a work. Entertainment works
    often have simple themes. In the case of the entries,
    this tendency was more pronounced in majorly distributed works from Japan. This in itself is not a bad thing.
    Still, when compared to short films with intense themes
    that can be portrayed only in a short timeframe, these
    works certainly give the impression that they are not
    innovative. Since “an ability of a work to contribute to
    expanding the range of expression is an important factor” for these awards, a simple theme alone is inevitably
    hard to evaluate—even though the theme itself is not a
    flaw of the work. In the judging process, how important
    should the theme of a work be? This was a question I
    kept asking myself during the judging process.