20th Animation Division Critiques
The Year of the Full-Length Animation
For the world of animation--including titles that were not entered in the Japan Media Arts Festival due to eligibility dates--I felt that 2016 was the year of feature-length films. We had numerous superb, powerful, masterpiece-quality titles to choose from, so it was an easy matter to agree that the Grand Prize would go to one of those feature films.Especially considering that not all animated features opening in Japan that year were entered in the festival, participating on the jury drove home to me the sheer number of such works being produced. I imagine one factor is the switchover to digital TV, which has eliminated the wide gap in resolution that used to exist between television and film. In any case it is almost scary to see animated feature films being turned out in such large quantities. At the same time, perhaps we can say that this was the year when mere quantity was overshadowed by quality.By comparison, the footprint made by animated short films seemed somewhat reduced. Nevertheless, it was the shorts that put the phenomenal diversity of animation on full display, and in fact all of the New Face Awards went to short films.When I noted that the movements in a work were very good for 3D computer graphics, a 2D specialist on the panel responded that he thought the movements seemed normal. It made me realize anew that, at a time when digital production has become the norm, flatness has come to be preferred in all expression. It was also a reminder that, with computers becoming as essential to animation as pencils and brushes are to drawing and painting, it is now possible to produce animated films anywhere in the world.It was interesting to see works whose styles seemed unique to their country or region, or might have been influenced by another country, or even showed the influence of Japanese animation, and to think about the fact that they had indeed gathered here from all around the world. I was also fascinated to learn of the variety of animations being shown outside the media I typically consume, appearing in such places as planetariums and on the stage.One Japanese animator has noted that if a work is not on the Internet, it might as well not exist. I was delighted to see that most of the entries are available for streaming on the Internet, and some even permit downloads.