19th Animation Division Critiques
The Japan Media Arts Festival is Really a Match of Mixed Martial Arts!
This time, it was really difficult to "judge" and "choose" again. After all, we have to endure the ordeal of choosing "Award-winning Works" from over 800 candidates. Asking myself repeatedly whether all works can be judged on the equal footing, I reached a conclusion after writhing in agony that this is like a one-time-only serious match of mixed martial arts. Thus, an evaluation can be different from another point of view. That is why I beg you not to be too critical on the results.
My general impression is that, while many works from abroad address social issues and universality, domestic works focus more on very personal issues in all divisions including animated short film, animated feature film, and animated series. In my last jury comment in 2014, I mentioned that Japanese animation has developed so uniquely since the animated series Astro Boy started in 1963 that the word "Japanimation" was invented. While we have recognized fundamentally different diversity, current Japanese animation seems to have lost that quality. It is said that Japan is fortunately blessed with the environment where animation is established as an industry. However, it seems that there are some unbalanced works created from such environment. This is what I, daresay, would coin as "fishing pond business". In a fishing pond, fish are released and easy to catch, but they are no tuna, bonito or sharks. Instead, I suggest going to the river, lake or ocean searching for big fish instead of the local fishing pond where you can always catch only small fish.
Lastly, the Grand Prize winning Rhizome gave a knockdown punch nobody has seen before in this fighting match of mixed martial arts, and it was great for us to be knocked out at once.