17th Animation Division Critiques

The Freedom of Animation

It is pleasing to know that this year out of all the animated short film submissions (511), the number fromoverseas (297) greatly exceeded that of Japanese (214). From the outset, with the exception of being limited to animation, this division has been an open competition not only for all nationalities, but also for pros/amateurs, and feature-length/short films, and we can say that this result is proof of the festival taking root abroad as an "international competition" with such openness. Consequently, it is not surprising that overseas submissions are among the Award-winning Works and Jury Selections, and while these highquality works gather at the same international level, they are also an outstanding selection in which a rich "freedom" of variety can be sensed.Looking only at the short films, the Japanese entries WONDER, Anomalies, and Snow Hut are works by individual artists transcending easy categorization in terms of content, while the finish and power of studio-production short films Shashinkan, Kick-Heart, and Hinata no Aoshigure, imbued with the character of each staff member, was also superb.Among the overseas works, notably in the work of students, craftsman-like techniques with high precision shine, GrandFather, Semáforo, and Premier Automne serving as good examples. With this resoluteness on the one hand, "blown away" would be the more suitable expression for new faces KUNO Yoko, HIMEDA Manabu, and Jury Selections Shishi YAMAZAKI and KABUKI Sawako, young individual Japanese artists and students whose astounding artistic styles are unmissable.In summary, the appeal of this festival is not in polarized categorizations such as short /feature-length, Japanese/foreign, independent artist/commercial team but in the anticipation of a future crossover, fusion or intersection between them. The Hyuga Episodes of Kojiki commissioned for TV by YAMAMURA Koji, and the courageous INABA Takuya, who together with veteran staff realized Golden Time as a "short fi lm" without conforming to a system of production or media, allow us to feel the "freedom" of the animated medium. In this very sense, Approved for Adoption was a masterpiece worthy of the Grand Prize for going beyond nationality, method and the frame of the animated short format.

WADA Toshikatsu
Animation Artist
Born in 1966 in Fukuoka Prefecture, WADA graduated from the School of Law, Waseda University. A fan of the animated short films of OKAMOTO Tadanari, he went to work for the visual planning and production department of DentsuProx. In 1996 he began developing original techniques to produce animated films. His short animation Bippu to Bappu (The Adventures of Bip & Bap) has won prizes at animated film festivals in Japan and overseas. He also wrote and directed the making-of documentary that forms the second part of KAWAMOTO Kihachiro's Fuyu no Hi (Winter Days). In 2007 his animation of ARAI Ryoji's Sukima no Kuni no Poruta (A Country Between the Worlds) won an Excellence Prize at the Japan Media Ar ts Festival. He is currently active in the animation unit G9+1, a group of veteran animators. Having retired from DentsuTec in 2011, he is currently an adjunct professor at Tokyo Zokei University, managing director of the Japan Animation Association, and secretary-general of the Japan Society for Animation Studies.