22nd Entertainment Division Critiques
Grand Prize Symbolizes end of Heisei, an era in which Showa Still Clung on
I cannot help but say it was unfortunate that Chico Will Scold You! won the Grand Prize.I agree that, together with TikTok, which won an Ex- cellence Award, Chico Will Scold You! ranks right up there with the Grand Prize winners of past years in the way it reflects the issues of the day and its popularity.Chico Will Scold You! is content from one of the most successful VTubers, created by experienced TV professionals for TV viewers at home, while using cutting-edge video technology to track the movements of the costumed Chico and match the character's ex- pressions with computer graphics. TikTok is an unusual communication platform that uses the skillful designs of the short video community, which are perfect for the smart phone environment, to make it even easier for amateurs to share. This platform has created a teen culture that adults could not even have imagined.The final jury session really struggled to decide which of these works--which are perfect contrasts to each other--to recommend for the Grand Prize.My belief is that if the Japan Media Arts Festival val- ues moves toward our future, then TikTok should have been given the Grand Prize. However, the imagination that Chico's creators poured into it is easier to under- stand compared to TikTok, a Chinese app that was localized for Japan. The majority view among the judges that a win would be really significant support for the creators could not be overturned. I had to accept that this conclusion makes sense given the institution of the Japan Media Arts Festival itself. I also have to admit to my own inability to advocate for the TikTok movement actively enough since I'm not involved in it myself (I'm just a man in my mid-40s after all...).That said, I cannot help but find the basic setting of the show to be obnoxious. Here we have NHK introduc- ing a commercial variety show of the kind we used to see on Fuji Television at the end of the Showa period (1980s), with a veteran entertainer using the character of an all-knowing five-year-old girl to mess around with the guests with idiotic banter. Chico's gestures when she insists on a definite answer to the "simple trivia questions that any adult should know," while the TV show takes an out by insisting that "there are various theories," are also cunning. The structure of this show has the same bad habits that became problems count- less times in television entertainment during the Heisei era: one misstep on the part of a guest creates an at- mosphere that encourages bullying, and the skewed theories presented spread disinformation.Of course, if we look at it another way, we could say that NHK learned from the mistakes of these com- mercial variety shoes and it is the skillfulness of Chico Will Scold You! that allows NHK to just barely avoid (at this point) making these mistakes by using NHK's production environment and a high-tech character as intermediaries. As a result, the disrespect that I noted above just becomes a reason for awarding the prize. I really regret that, having realized this, I did not fight my own case more with the other jurors.However, I believe that Chico Will Scold You! is the perfect symbol of the limits of Neoteny Japan, which can only use new technology efficiently as an exten- sion of the Showa period's old system. So many people in the media abuse ordinary Japanese people, yelling "Don't sleep through life!" at them. But what the me- dia is really doing is covering over the obvious political and economic mistakes made after the Cold War, while pretending that only they are like innocent children and shutting out the easily twisted "right answer."I want to emphasize that this Grand Prize went to the most ironic self-portrait imaginable of Japan's fall in the Heisei period.If there is any hope, it is that a New Face Award went to Pixel Ripped 1989, an indie VR work that imagina- tively updates through the power of games in the world in the first year of Japan's Heisei period.I can only hope that in the next era we will see a true cultural maturation and the start of a restoration that confronts the inevitable decline and addresses it with effective technology.