18th Animation Division Critiques
Differences in Gravity between Artworks
What was somewhat disappointing this year was how the animated short film entries from Japan seemed to lack punch. This was a shame, considering how last year there was such an abundance of youthful and strikingly individual works. By contrast, as we can see in the Grand Prize-winner The Wound, and Excellence Award-winners PADRE and The Sense of touch, the animated short films from overseas were the real deal, where the artists were boldly confronting universal themes. New Face Awards were given to Man on the chair, from Korea, and My Milk Cup Cow, which was entered from inside Japan but was a rich work by a Chinese director squarely examining life in Chinese culture. Even in the Jury Selections, while not making the grade for the awards themselves, nonetheless there were numerous superb and weighty works from overseas.
It is likely a fool's errand simply to compare Japanese works with those from overseas. One cannot just look at the entries to the festival as representative of all the trends in the scene. And yet, surveying the animated shorts entered this year, relatively speaking only a few of the Japanese works seemed to have some gravity to them, whereas quite a number felt immature. Is this reflecting how youth culture seems today to be getting younger and younger in Japan? Or is rather the blame on the physiology of a generation who has grown accustomed in this digital age to ceaseless communication without deeper consideration? Believing a discussion of the social or the spiritual to be dubious or uncouth is not unrelated to this shift towards settling for a kind of lightness. There is a sense of weakness in the ability of some animators to create self-contained messages for others by expressing what is seen internally from a private perspective (which they perceive as their individuality). But even with works of this kind, if its power or the downward pull of its gravity can be conveyed to the viewer then it will stand out as fresh and transcend the immature, leaving a very different impression indeed.