15th Animation Division Critiques

Anime that generates the power to surpass reality

We are at a watershed moment for the culture of animation. Television has switched completely to digital terrestrial broadcasting and cinemas are also shifting to digital projection. With the decline of analog elements in our audio-visual environment has come the digital diffusion -- both legal and illegal-- of work around the world. On the other hand, this intensification of consumption has made it more and more difficult to leave a lasting impression. From a business standpoint, it is only natural that playing it safe would lead to an increase in anime adapted from manga or light novels with proven track records. Jury meetings were notable for a stance of rejecting works that were exact copies of their originals. From the standpoint of media arts, even adaptations must be held to the some standard of originality with regard to what the animation staff is trying to accomplish. This value judgment was reflected in a final selection that included jury recommended works.
Selection of the Grand Prize winner, as was also the case last year, required long hours of passionate debate. Ultimately, the argument for rejecting the ordinary won out and we decided on PUELLA MAGI MADOKA MAGICA. The tragic disaster that shook Japan on March 11, 2011 delayed the broadcast of the series climax. Nevertheless, turning adversity to advantage with full-page newspaper ads promoting the catch-up broadcast, the series came to a miraculous conclusion much in synchronized with the content of the story. Those who saw it felt moved to say something, compelled to act. I was deeply moved by a Grand Prize winner that reminded me again of anime's potential to generate the power to change reality. My hope is that encountering it may even change the course of the Japan Media Arts Festival.

HIKAWA Ryusuke
Animation Critic
Born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1958, HIKAWA graduated from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, School of Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology. From when he was a student he was active as a magazine editor, music album creator, and writer in the field of animation special effects. After gaining experience as an engineer/manager at an IT company, he launched his own writing business, through which he provides commentary on various topics for magazines, videograms, and the Web. Other activities include directing the "Anime Maestro" segment of the television program BS Anime Yawa, commenting on products distributed on the Bandai Channel, and serving as a lecturer at Ikebukuro Community College. His publications include 20 Nenme no Zambot 3 (The 20th Year of Zambot 3; Ohta Publishing, 1997) and Akira Archive (Kodansha, 2002).