24th Animation Division Critiques

Sentiments, Speech, and Images That Resonate in the Digital Age

In terms of creativity and production, the spread of the novel coronavirus made 2020 a taxing year. I would like to express my gratitude to those who submitted their works amid such hardship. Further, it was my great fortune to encounter such a wonderful array of works. In my critique last year, I mentioned the unique difficulty of judging a TV series, which tells a story over an extended period of time and different episodes of which may merit different feedback. This doesn't happen with feature films or animated shorts. That the animated series Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! won the Grand Prize this year is not only delightful for me to see, it's also groundbreaking. We've witnessed an increase in long-form animation distributed by Netflix and other platforms. Works like A Whisker Away and JAPAN SINKS : 2020 have ambitious, exciting stories, they are produced for a platform outside the framework of movies and TV series, and they come with subtitles in multiple languages for simultaneous international distribution. Animated works tailored for music videos released online are now on the rise, like the Social Impact Award-winning Haze Haseru Haterumade and the Jury Selection Mela! Viewers can enjoy these works comfortably on their smartphone screens, and I have high hopes for how such works develop on screens of size and mobility vastly different from movies and TV. We had an excellent array of female protagonists as well. Excellence Award-winning works Violet Evergarden: the Movie, A Whisker Away, and MARONA'S FANTASTIC TALE illustrate the difficulty of conveying one's feelings to loved ones and the importance of those feelings. The mark of Emi delicately depicts a girl in the throes of young, queer love, with her emotional turmoil impressively conveyed in the pencil drawings on screen. A fellow winner of the New Face Award, À la mer poussière uses felt dolls to convey a mother's sorrow and her children's loneliness to an almost frighteningly beautiful effect. All of them were worth watching twice.

Professor, Institute of Urban Innovation Yokohama National University
SUGAWA completed her Ph.D. in the Department of Film and Television Studies at the Graduate School of the University of Warwick in the UK. Her focus of study was animation, 2.5D theater and other elements of popular culture theory, as well as audience and fan research. She is the vice chair of the Japan Society for Animation Studies. Her research focuses on audiences and representations of young girls in television animation in terms of gender. Recently, she has been engaged in researching female fans in 2.5D culture. Author of Shojo to maho: Ga-ru hi-ro ha ikani juyo sareta no ka (Girls and Magic: How have girl heroes been accepted?) (NTT Publishing, 2013), she received the 2014 Japan Society for Animation Studies Award. Co-author of works such as Japanese Animation: East Asian Perspectives (University Press of Mississippi, 2013), Teaching Japanese Popular Culture (AAS, 2016), Shōjo Across Media (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), and Women's Manga in Asia and Beyond (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). Co-editor of works such as Anime kenkyu nyumon: Oyohen (Introduction to Animation Studies: Practical Version) (Gendai Shokan, 2018) and Anime-shon bunka 55 no ki-wa-do (55 Keywords of Animation Culture) (Minerva Shobo, 2019).