23rd Animation Division Critiques
The Appeal of Diversity in Animation Expression
This was my first participation as a jury member and for a period of four months, I watched, one by one, animation films submitted from all over the world. Through this experience I reaffirmed my awareness of the diverse nature and limitless scope of animation expression. I encountered a broad range of expression in a variety of genres--drama, comedy, documentary, experimental, abstract--as well as rich imagination, which made watching the films a rewarding and enjoyable experience. There were numerous interesting and fascinating works as well that were not bound to a specific genre. As for the awarded works, I was overwhelmed by the awe-inspiring, rather than simply awesome, visual work of the recipient of the Grand Prize, Children of the Sea. GON, THE LITTLE FOX, which won an Excellence Award, is a powerful work created through the struggles of its main character. With its original idea of having the drawings change with the growth of the character, A Japanese Boy Who Draws made me forget my work as a jury member and simply watch and be moved and impressed by it. LONG WAY NORTH fascinated me with the symbiosis of its nostalgia and novelty, while Nettle Head and the worldview it expresses through the characters' secret rite of passage from childhood to adulthood made me appreciate the mysterious nature of the human race. Among the Jury Selections, I was deeply impressed by many of them: Purpleboy, for its profound theme and stunning purple images that appear to be visual expressions of music; LOCOMOTOR, for its vibrant imagery evoking ink bursting out from the screen; Mascot and its subdued depiction of the despair of young people; Bear With Me, which is not so much a documentary as an essay-like animation about love that has the power to delight its audience; Lola the living potato, which depicts the wobbly inner world of a young girl; and finally the expansive and powerful The Last Episode. Another impression I had from my work on the jury was that Japanese animators possess amazing techniques and sensitivity, and their works have a unique appeal that is different from that of animation films produced in any other country. I felt that, compared with the works of foreign animators that depict people and human society, the majority of Japanese animation films draw their inspiration from nature. Whether because of the impact of abnormal weather in recent years or because Japan is particularly prone to natural disasters, Japanese creators tend to project into their work a deeply-rooted reverence for nature. I am extremely pleased that this trend is reflected as a new breed of sensitivity in the creation of animation.