16th Animation Division Critiques

The Power of Perfection and Originality

Watching and judging all of the approximately 370 short works submitted to this division was an enjoyable and interesting task. Regardless of whether they were Japanese or foreign, the works by a younger generation of artists, including students and graduates of film and animation programs, displayed a great deal of vitality. I think this is in part due to the disappearance of any difference in the technical environment available to amateurs and professionals, thanks to the spread of digital production. Since everyone is using the same tools now, they can do exactly what they want, and this power comes through in the works I saw. Pros, watch out! Particularly intriguing were the ambitious efforts of younger foreign artists working with a staff to produce short entertainment-type works at a very professional level of execution. In contrast, the most fascinating of the Japanese submissions were by individual artists who made no attempt to embrace a "professional" style, but created works of such originality and quality that they seemed to have arrived out of nowhere. Ultimately, many of the awards and jury selections went to Japanese works because of this overwhelming originality, but it was also delightful to encounter an outstanding foreign work like Emma De SWAEF and Marc James ROELS's Oh Willy.... Ultimately, it was originality as well as sheer perfection of execution, on a level of mastery that transcends generations, that made us feel that OTOMO Katsuhiro's COMBUSTIBLE was most deserving of the Grand Prize.
Another surprise was that in the short-film category, submissions from overseas outnumbered those from Japan. This suggests that what was originally a "Japanese" festival is evolving into an international event that is attracting many foreign artists, university students included. As the festival was originally intended to be an open event without boundaries -- between not only Japanese and foreign artists but also pro and amateur, commercial and independent, and short and long works -- I hope it grows into an even higher quality competition among entries from both Japan and abroad. I look forward to a friendly rivalry based on originality, quality of execution, and mutual stimulation! Having completed my first term as a juror, I am now filled with the desire to submit my own work to this festival!

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.