17th Animation Division Critiques

New Possibilities in Unpredictable Directions

I had recognized in recent years that young Japanese artists have been in good form, but on becoming a judge at the Media Ar ts Festival for the first time I could observe this reality directly, and it was a surpriseto see not only the quality but also the number of high-quality works. Speaking about the short works in particular, I could sense the powerful energy of the young artists in the three works receiving the New Face Award, the Jury Selections, and also among those works which only marginally missed selection.To simply say "young = new" is inaccurate. With creators of works like YOKOSOBOKUDESU Selection we can feel both freshness and a sense of otherness. It may be said that the very character of those who make animation is clearly other than conventional. Everything necessary for video, music, and other expressive forms is conveyed by a single individual. The digitization of product ion methods has allowed for the completion of an entire work through individual labor, yet the ability to command this level of expression is a real surprise. In encountering works produced using such a multitude of abilities, I feel I have seen greater possibilities for animation as an expressive medium.Generally speaking, it could be seen in many works by young Japanese artists that the creators' gaze was turned to an ambiguous "something" squirming within themselves. This was not without some intelligibility, and indeed this becomes the idiosyncratic nature of the work. In comparison, among overseas submissions there was a visible intention to create a clearly defined video expression, and technical mastery with a strong sense of professionalism could be seen. Not-withstanding this distinction, a few Japanese submissions such as Golden Time and WHILE THE CROW WEEPS were rich in character while also employing consistently applied production methods.The Grand Prize-winner Approved for Adoption stood out among works in which themes relating to society were rare. It surpassed much Japanese animation which gave priority to the works' entertainment value. I was brought to consider the meaning generated by this feature-length work, and the way a culture of animation makes the planning, production and final presentation of work possible.

OHI Fumio
Animation Artist
Born in 1944 in Kyoto Prefecture. Graduated from Tama Art University (Department of Graphic Design). He has been involved in animation production since his university days where he won awards at Sogetsu Animation Festival and Experimental Film & Video Festival. In 1981, he took part in the establishment of 3D Incorporated. Producing opening titles and animations for many TV programs, including the animations for NHK’s Minna no uta (Everyone’s Songs), he has also been involved in the production of a number of TV commercials. Since 2000, he has been engaged in production activities as a freelancer. He is a member of the animation production group G9+1 and a Japan Animation Association (JAA) supervisor.