13th Animation Division Critiques
There were 473 entries to the Animation Division this year, the largest number of entries to date. Characteristically, we received more short animations than long animations, TV animations and OVA's. The trend could be connected, to the spread of animation production software for PCs and an increase in the number of young people studying animation in institutions. Considering that China and South Korea encourage the development of the animation industry, the trend might be a good sign also for the Japanese animation industry, whose position as forerunner in the field has become rather precarious. Even a work that already enjoys high public regard needs to go through the regular application procedure for Japan Media Arts Festival in order to be judged. SUMMER WARS, the Grand Prize winner, was one of the topical works this year, and was worthy of the prize both in terms of content and production technique. The director, HOSODA Mamoru, unanimously won the Grand Prize for a second time. After a lively exchange of opinions in selecting the Excellence prizes, the opinions of the jury eventually converged on works that showed distinctiveness in expression and content. Among those selected were two works from overseas, underscoring the fact that the festival is now well known internationally. The three Japanese works are all characteristic: an experimental one; a work that deals with the tragedy of an unpredictable mega-quake and involves a warning message; and a love story developed in a nostalgic setting. Lastly, there were also quite a few other fine works that were unfortunately unable to earn places due to the limited number of prizes.