21st Animation Division Critiques

Animated Films Show Japanese Reality Today

The full-length animated films eligible for this award were all rewarding. As it was difficult to decide between In This Corner of the World and Lu over the wall, the Grand Prize was given to both films. Director YUASA Masaaki also listed in the Jury Selections for Night is Short, Walk on Girl. It is quite unusual for a single direc- tor to be named for both the Grand Prize and the Jury Selections for two full-length films in the same year.The two Grand Prize works appear to be complete opposites, but they both address issues faced by con- temporary society. The main character in In This Corner of the World is often absentminded and makes mistakes repeatedly. In other words, real life lacks reality for her. The young boy in Lu over the wall feels isolated from the world around him, and also finds little sense of reality in daily life. As these main characters begin to interact with other people, they gradually become more alive, and ultimately quite vibrant, as their sense of reality is restored. This process of restoring a sense of reality is evoked by the action in the animation.Sound! Euphonium The Movie -May the melody reach you! and Your Voice -KIMIKOE- were selected for the Jury Selections for full-length animated films. I found it very interesting that both of their Japanese titles included the word "todoketai" ("I want to send"), suggesting that they are sending something they want to send through the animation. The characters' constrained emotions are gradually released as they interact with others, creating close bonds with other people. The films depict an impatience at being unable to convey one's feelings that is different from the lack of reality in the Grand Prize works. This same impatience is shared by Night is Short, Walk on Girl.Female characters play the central role in all of the aforementioned films. Their individuality really stands out, and their capacity for empathy gives the films an edge. I get the sense that women's sensibilities are re- ally becoming a major theme in animation. I see a similar trend in the short animation Harmonia feat. Makoto.That said, there were also films such as BLAME!, which describes the reality of war by the marks of wounds left on combat uniforms. COCOLORS depicts a world in which people can only survive deep under- ground in protective clothing, and the material of their clothing represents who they are. It is almost as if the attractiveness we usually associate with faces and their expressions has been transferred in these films to the appeal of the material of their clothing, trying to depict individuality by the things they wear.The short animated film Negative Space focuses entirely on the most efficient way of packing clothes in a bag, with an interest in what we wear. The puppet animation Toutes les poupées ne pleurent pas depicts the destruction of the puppets followed by their re- placement. In this way, the individuality of the puppets is suddenly stripped away. This is the same concept as changing one's clothes.In JUNK HEAD, another puppet animation, the face rather than the clothes are changed. These films seem to be saying that, not that individuality is formed by individuals, but that individuality can be found in a gath- ering of replaceable items, as with the replacement of clothing and faces and changes to the bodies.Japan's full-length animated films want to send messages about people's feelings, in contrast to the short-length animated films, which depict worlds in which individuals possessed of their own feelings are actually made up of replaceable parts. I think this reflects both sides of the essential nature of Japan's emotional world. Toutes les poupées ne pleurent pas is a foreign work, so it might not be appropriate to say that it speaks of Japan's unique nature, but we can find commonalities in the way in which the body is handled.

MD and Ph.D., Professor, Nihon University
Born in 1954 in Saitama Prefecture, YOKOTA studied animation in the Creative Image Course of the Department of Cinema at the College of Art, Nihon University. Upon graduation he entered the Psychology Program of the Graduate School of Literature and Social Sciences at Nihon University and received a master's degree in 1979. Starting with a presentation at the 19th Convention of the Japan Society of Image Arts and Sciences titled "A Psychological Analysis of Motion in Animation," he has presented his research results on animation at the Japan Society of Image Arts and Sciences, the Japan Society for Animation Studies, and the Society for Animation Studies. He has also published articles in academic journals. His animation related activities include guest lecturer at I Castelli Animati, and serving as both a jury member and a lecturer at Puchon International Student Animation Festival. His major publications include Japanese Animation: East Asian Perspectives [University Press of Mississippi, 2013; co-editor and author], Animation no jiten (The Encyclopedia of Animation) [Asakura Shoten, 2012; co-editor and author], Nikkan animation no shinri bunseki: deai, majiwari, tojikomori (A Psychological Analysis of Japanese and Korean Animation: Encounter, Interaction, and Withdrawal from Society) [Rinsen Shoten, 2009], and Media kara yomitoku rinsho shinrigaku: manga, anime wo aishi, kenko na kokoro wo hagukumu (Clinical Psychology of the Media: How to Love Manga and Anime and Develop a Healthy Mind) [Science-sha, 2016].