23rd Animation Division Critiques

Reaffirming the Power of Animation

It appears that 2019 was a bumper year for featurelength animation films. As a first-time jury member I did not know what the situation was in an average year, and so I should not say with certainty that it was truly a bumper year. There definitely were, however, numerous memorable works worthy of viewing. In addition to the high quality of animation technique, the depiction of rain, snow, fire, wind, and water were downright brilliant. Of all these great works, Children of the Sea received the highest marks from all five jury members. There were a few other films that similarly received high marks, but after collating the common evaluation standards with the individual standards of each jury member, cultivated through their experience and background, the film that stood out above the rest was Children of the Sea. The depiction of sea creatures reminded me of the longforgotten but overwhelming fear I experienced as a child when I came across a drawing of a whale in an encyclopedia or picture book, and learned of the existence of such enormous creatures. Once again, the awe-inspiring power of life made my hair stand on end. This film, which vividly brandishes the ability to evoke all those feelings and memories with only a single stroke and demonstrates the powerful appeal of animation, is undoubtedly worthy of the Grand Prize. Although I think that there were many decidedly good animated short films as well. In addition to the awarded works, these include films such as Dreams Into Drawing by YAMAMURA Koji, which features movements so fascinatingly agile and light as to transcend into a universal space. I would likewise include My Luxury Night by MIZUSHIRI Yoriko, which reaches greater depths than her previous works, thanks to the amazing harmony between its story and music; Winter in the Rainforest by Anu-Laura TUTTELBERG, an outstanding film that taught me about the roots of animation by intentionally highlighting the concept of foreignness; and also Now 2 by Kevin ESKEW, which features mysteries that leave the audience enthralled and are, in my opinion, the best mysteries of 2019. There were many other very good films, but the number of awards is limited and I find it truly regrettable that, in the process of evaluation, some works did not even make it into the Jury Selections.

WADA Atsushi
Animation Artist
Born in 1980 in Hyogo Prefecture. Animator.