22nd Animation Division Critiques

The Approach that is Inherently Animation’s Strongest Point

This year, the Grand Prize went to La Chute. Since the works are not separated by category, the Grand Prize is usually awarded to feature films, so it is of a great sig- nificance that a short animation won the highest prize this time around. Although its title translates as "The Fall," to me the film felt as an expression of revival and hope. Perhaps different people will see it in completely different ways, and La Chute is infused with a spirit of tolerance that accepts this broadness of interpretation. My only basis for comparison is last year's festival, but my impression is that this year there were more works that feature the themes of hope and the things beyond it.There were also many films featuring vibrant women. Another point worth mentioning is the large number of works that depict structurally-round characters. Unlike the sharp or overly-designed characters that tend to overwhelm the viewer, these characters softly entice us into a visual world without any intimidation. Even the films dealing with some heavy themes are broad in scope and this enables them to gently draw the audience in, an approach that represents the inher- ently strongest point of animation. Many of the films that remained in the competition until the final stages of screening, such as Okko's Inn, Penguin Highway, and DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan, rely on similar ap- proaches. Also, many of these films can be created only as animation, not as live-action movies, and to me this feels like a return to the roots of the genre.La Chute won the Grand Prize, but I was also im- pressed by several outstanding animations, such as The Girl Without Hands and Invisible. I felt that, while their authors were very particular about specific creative methods of expression, they also made sure that the themes were presented in an easy-to-understand way. Unlike full-length films, which can rely on their story, many short films give priority to image and impressions, which could make them hard to understand. This was not the case with the films competing in the festival, as many of them had wide-ranging themes, which they did not force onto the audience. We tend to discuss trends in film creation on a decade basis, and as this decade is nearing its end, the question arises whether we are about to see a turning point in the trends. I do not think it is that simple, though.

UDA Kounosuke
Animation Director
Born in Shizuoka Prefecture in 1966, UDA graduated from the Animation Department of Tokyo Design Academy. Starting off as an assistant director trainee in the feature animation film Transformers: The Movie in 1986, he became the assistant director and production assistant of the TV anima- tion Transformers: The Headmasters in 1987, and has since directed many Toei Animation lms including SAILOR MOON and YOUNG KINDAICHI'S CASE BOOK. He also directed several TV animations and animated feature lms including Galaxy Kickoff, GALAXY EX- PRESS 999 Eternal Fantasy, ONE PIECE THE MOVIE, Rainbow Fireflies (a Jury Selection of the 16th Japan Media Arts Festival) and Onagawa Chuu Basuke Bu: 5-nin no Natsu (The Summer of the Five Members of Onagawa Junior High School Basketball Team).