25th Animation Division Critiques

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.

GONDO Shunji
Researcher of Animation History / Associate Professor, Tokyo Polytechnic University
GONDO has been working on research on global animation after graduating from the Faculty of Letters of the University of Tokyo. In addition to writing animation-related articles for animation and film journals, he has also served as an adjunct instructor of the history of animation at Tokyo Zokei University since the 2001 academic year. His major written works include Euro Animation (coeditor, Film Art Inc., 2002), Sekai to nihon no animeshon besuto 150 (Best 150 World and Japanese Animation Films Selected by Professionals, supervising editor, Fusion Product, 2003), and Itaria animeshon no sekai (The World of Italian Animation, content contributor, PetitGlam Publishing, 2004).