23rd Animation Division Critiques

The Spirit of Confrontation

This was my first experience as a jury member, and I'd first like to share my impressions from reviewing the body of submitted works. What stood out was the large number of full-length films. In 2019, posters for various films, from blockbusters for nationwide release to films screened at independent art-houses, certainly incited a great deal of excitement in movie theatres. These works were different from special feature films based on TV series or standalone films, and some theatres screened them as sequels or otherwise changed their approach. The large number of such works caught my eye. In these cases, it is quite difficult to judge them based on the submitted video alone, and the evaluation inevitably becomes biased toward standalone films. Against this backdrop, the awarded works and the Jury Selections gave me the impression of an earnest spirit of "confrontation." Artists get their inspiration to create from a variety of different sources. Some come up with visual images of ideas they encounter in their daily life. Professional animation directors like us are sometimes approached with pitches to create a film based on an existing original work. Regardless of the origin of inspiration, once an artist embarks on the journey of creation, what they require is the spirit of "confrontation:" confrontation with themselves, with the original work, and with the means of expression. The winner of the Grand Prize, Children of the Sea, confronts head-on an image that transcends the original manga and which cannot be expressed in words to convey the delicate yet powerful approach of the creators. LONG WAY NORTH, which won an Excellence Award, fascinates with its thorough approach to depicting the vastness of nature. I believe that, in principle, the process of creation is a dialogue with oneself. It is through this process that SHINKAI Makoto continues to create works that confront young people today, for which I admire him greatly. A Social Impact Award was newly established this year, and there could be no better recipient of the prize than Weathering With You, a film that had enormous social impact, particularly on young people.

SATO Tatsuo
Animation Director and Scriptwriter
Born on 1964 in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. After graduating from Waseda University School of Law, Sato worked as an animator at Asia-do, an animation company. Later he worked as a director on Chibi Maruko Chan ("Little Maruko"), Nintama Rantaro ("Rantaro, Ninja in the Making"), and Akazukin ChaCha ("Red Riding Hood ChaCha"). In 1995 He commanded widespread attention when he directed his first original TV animation for NHK, Tobe! Isami ("Fly! Isami"). In 1996, Sato directed Kido Senkan Nadeshiko ("Mobile Warship Nadeshiko"), which became a hit and catapulted him to fame in the world of animation. He did direction, storyboards, and screenplay for the tremendously popular full-length animated film Nadeshiko the Movie: Prince of Darkness, which was released in 1998. The film and Sato won the 38th Japan SF Convention Seiun (Japanese Hugo) Award, the 21st Animage Anime Gran Prix Grand Prize and prizes in four other divisions, and the 1st SF Online Award in the Movie Division. Sato writes a serial column, Watashi-Ryu Gyokai E-Konte ("Doing Commercial Storyboards My Way") in the monthly publication Hoso Bunka ("Broadcast Culture"). He is also at work on the TV animation series Gakuen Senki Muryo ("Muryo and the Campus Wars"), which began airing on the NHK BS-2 channel in May 2001.