15th Animation Division Critiques

An annual evolution of expressive techniques

This was the first time in the 15 years of the Japan Media Arts Festival that I was able to serve as a member of the jury. Rarely being able to come into contact with such a broad range of the animation work being produced today, I found the opportunity most appealing. Most of all, I had hoped that I might be able to draw some creative energy from the work of so many active animators.
In the last few years, and for a variety of reasons, production conditions in the animation-as-entertainment industry in which I work-- theatrical animation and television series-- has grown appreciably worse. So I was very surprised at the large number of entries.
I was also impressed with the resourcefulness with which creators overcame the production conditions given and took on challenging content. Animated short film entries were received not only from Japanese creators but also from those in other countries such as France and South Korea.
Animation methods and technique continue to evolve with each passing year, and I sense that computer graphics technology is now firmly established in the realm of animation as cinematic expression. Looking to the future of animation culture, one issue for the Agency of Cultural Affairs will be how to ensure that efforts like the Japan Media Arts Festival are more than mere events and lead to support for artists and the industry.

SUGII Gisaburo
I was principally in charge of judging work in the animated feature film and TV animation fields. There were76 entries in all, 59 of which were submissions from within Japan. Although the Grand Prize was awarded to an overseas work, I was left with the impression that there has been real progress in CG technology in the world of Japanese animated works, while their expressive power continues to increase.However, among the animated films and animated TV series that were submitted, many were by directors whose names are already familiar. While these works possessed a high degree of perfection, it was a pity that they seemed to lack anything unfamiliar and surprising. In comparison, there were many short films submitted by overseas artists, and I observed their wide-ranging use of animation techniques and contents with keen interest.In works of entertainment made for release in theaters or on TV there is a requirement to meet the desires of the age, while the production of works with creative freedom such as short films takes place in difficult conditions. With this in mind, I would like to applaud the directors and staff of the Excellence Awards for their defiant approach. I fear that advances in technology might guide the direction taken by creators as they aim for an increasing level of perfection, but I hold hopes that strong narrative appeal will transcend such trends and enhance the tractive power of Japanese animation in the entertainment field.