24th Entertainment Division Critiques
Toward the Digital Version of the Cambrian Explosion
I served as a jury member for the Entertainment Division for the second year running. I knew nothing about what to expect when I saw many ambitious works last year, but this year I was thinking I would be able to be more relaxed when facing the works. Then, the coronavirus pandemic struck the world unexpectedly. The 24th Japan Media Arts Festival was held when the use of new terms such as the declaration of a state of emergency, lockdown, and new normal became routine. Negative effects on submissions were a concern, but there turned out to be more total submissions than last year, showing a slight increase from 3,566 to 3,693. Specifically, the Entertainment Division saw an astounding increase from 390 last year to 626. Together with the Manga Division, which increased from 666 to 792, it supplemented the decrease in other Divisions. Staying home, remote working, and side jobs have been promoted, and digitalization and the network environment have become necessary and in demand. I believe that these circumstances propelled the human instinct to seek the essence of entertainment for having fun, creating works, and entertaining others, resulting in the larger number of submissions. In the last year's Jury Critiques, I stated that the boundaries of categories had become almost nonexistent amid accelerating digitalization in recent years. I see explosive activities of the digital creative generation, surprisingly during this coronavirus pandemic. The Cambrian Explosion was the emergence of the current animal phyla in the Cambrian period. We are now in a period of explosive expansion and growth of digital creativity comparable to that. In Japan, new generations of creative fields emerged including film, TV, manga, animation, and games, following the tradition of ukiyo-e and kabuki. Now the subsequent field has passed its embryonic stage, and the creators' activities in the field are finally taking root as a new form of entertainment. Evolution takes place in times of crisis. The new entertainment is beginning to open up the future of culture and art beyond genres, generations, countries, and races.