Award-winning Works
Entertainment Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • TERAI Hironori
    Creative Director
    A new experience of the live and the shared
    The most interesting among the entries in this division were the web, apps and video works that boldly tried to create new types of experiences. Keywords that describe their common threads include "live" and "shared." Livecasting on Ustream, for example, became a social networking hit. People shared and discussed their feelings and reactions on Twitter and Facebook, filling the web with talk of shared experiences that precipitated a broadening and deepening of community.
    This year's epoch-maker, perhaps, was the SPACE BALLOON PROJECT, which brought together like-minded people who were physically unable to be in the same place and transported them into space. The Museum of Me was also outstanding, using personal information from Facebook to quickly create shared experiences that reminded users of the irreplaceability of their individual networks and the majesty of personal information. Apps designed for the iPad presented a variety of straightforward, easy-to-understand ideas, and it is encouraging to see the insatiable drive of plucky developers in releasing one work after another. The game industry has shifted noticeably toward big, epic titles and the nearly complete lack of experimental game submissions concerns me. The everyday lives of individuals are naturally led separately, but I look forward to seeing where this movement toward plugging into a favorite community once in a while to enjoy "live" and "shared" entertainment will lead. Perhaps next we'll see the emergence of ways to actually generate "real" experiences.
  • SAITO Yutaka
    Game Designer
    The constant, persistent challenge of expression
    Deliberations this year began with members of the jury confirming in advance that each would proceed based on criteria including "contemporariness," "innovation," and "originality." The result, as should be evident from a review of the award-winners, is that we ended up selecting a group of truly unique works.Because the Japan Media Arts Festival is centered on media arts, it emphasizes "expression" in a realm closely proximate to the individual. This trend is evident in a categorical slant that is particularly evident among this year's winning entries.
    There were many unique and interesting video works, more indeed than in other years. Many applications for devices like the iPhone, perhaps because the efforts of creators are reaching a stage of maturation, showed originality without losing either polish or playfulness, and often eased the mood at meetings of the jury. What was disappointing, on the other hand, was the relative decline in the number of games and playthings that managed to draw high praise. This seemed to speak directly to the challenges faced by the old consumer industry. While it is not difficult to imagine that the unprecedented boom in smartphones and social media has had a major influence in the background, as someone who works in the game industry I find the situation terribly vexing.
    There was, however, one experimental entry that took the sort of fresh approach one expects to discover in works by individuals and was permeated with a sense of "newness" not haunted by the ghost of commercialism: the New Face Award-winning Digital Warrior Sanjigen. Media arts are prone to dependency upon the latest trends in hardware and networking, but they cannot be "art" if creators lose sight of "the never-ending challenge of creative expression." I hope to see creators throw even more energy into their work next year as a way also to invigorate Japan.
  • IWATANI Toru
    Game Creator and Professor, Tokyo Polytechnic University
    The time will come when we no longer call them “games.”
    Submissions were concentrated around a particular device, and many had tightly focused content. Perhaps because the production environment now enables individuals to create, many entries introduced idiosyncratic concepts that made for a most enjoyable selection process.
     Our sense of values relating to culture and the arts includes both the desire to retain the good unchanged and the drive to create new trends. This year I approached the submissions with selection criteria that included a universal sense of playfulness and an innovative spirit of aufheben. In unassuming works that discreetly incorporated a clever sense of "playfulness," I felt I was able to discern the sensitivity of the young and the trend of the times. I was also struck strongly by the hope that creators would aim for the sort of next-generation works that "could be only be described as new," an encounter with which would linger long in memory.
    The content of many entries also spanned across categories like video works, applications, games and playthings. With video works that also happen to be playable, and utility apps that can also be played now and then, the traditional boundaries of the game category are becoming harder and harder to distinguish. In fact, this is evidence of how both creator and user engage freely and loosely with media without a hard-and-fast game consciousness. This can be seen as an indication of the breadth of future possibilities for games and, taken together with the way mobile phones are now called by many names, suggests that games, too, may be called by some other name one day very soon.
  • ITO Gabin
    Editor / Creative Director
    Entertainment as designer of shared experience
    Almost all of the works that impressed me most this year seem to have been those involving "events." Many were experiential exhibits or looked like video works, including, of course, the Grand Prize-winning SPACE BALLOON PROJECT, and it actually appears that many had been designed to share experiences using social media and streaming broadcasts. The fact that people have demanded "that" seems to provide a big hint when thinking about people and media environment.
    Online environments penetrate deep into people's everyday lives and, as a result of the fact that social media has begun to provide information tailored to individuals, opportunities for many people to see and experience the same things have decreased. Perhaps as a backlash to this, many works that take a form that involves everyone watching the same thing and having a good time have appeared and become popular, and I would like to engrave this on my memory in regard to 2011. On the other hand, the number of entries for consumer games remained low this year. One wonders whether this means that these games are in decline. However, many people enjoyed social apps. In addition, there were works created by game designers, such as Song of ANAGURA. These experiences accurately capture parts of the games of the past. Games have penetrated media environments and I do feel that it is just that we have lost the opportunity to call them games. Right now, I would like to ensure that we do not neglect to keep an eye out for something that has not yet come before the screening panel.
  • UCHIYAMA Koshi
    Creative Director
    Neither controlling nor a salon, a forum for free expression
    What selection criteria were used in the entertainment division?
    It is difficult to establish clear selection criteria for the entertainment division because the entries it receives--including games, music videos and toys--are so diverse, even by the standards of the Japan Media Arts Festival. The scale and scope of projects vary widely, from toys that seem to realize a flash of insight to massive undertakings that might take 3 or 4 years from conception to realization, yet must be judged against one another. Still, since each was submitted as a work of entertainment, the only criteria, really, is whether or not they move people. The starting point for entertainment is the ability to captivate an audience.

    Which works among this year's award-winning works did you particularly like?
    SPACE BALLOON PROJECT, which took the Grand Prize, was impressive. The real-time aspect of Internet transmission, the magnificent scale of an effort to reach outer space, and although I'm sure all precautions were taken, the exhilarating suspense about whether it would succeed all made for superb entertainment. Even if mediated by the screen of a computer or mobile phone, the project seemed to put space within reach. This was a sensation made possible only due to the development and popularization of technology.
    Group Tamashii's berobero also left a deep impression. Although produced before the earthquake, it seemed a more powerful antidote to 2011's stifling mood than any of the earthquake-conscious works made in the disaster's wake. The visuals just show continually walking forward but I found them really captivating.

    Tell us your impressions of the state of entertainment in 2011, including works that either were not nominated or did not win.
    The Japan Media Arts Festival includes the word "arts," but entertainment does not depend on art for its existence. I also think the tendency to favor works that addressed the earthquake, as an aspect of current event, is out of place in entertainment. Entertainment is something more akin to hospitality or service than art. Art is self-expression, and this motive is different than entertainment's fundamental aim of serving an audience.
    I was disappointed that there were so few noteworthy games and television commercials this year. There were ads that got talked about, to be sure, but even clever techniques and gimmicks are not enough on their own to really captivate people. Television commercials used to express themselves in all sorts of ways but the innovation in entertainment today seems to be happening elsewhere.

    Do you mean that the role of commercials has changed from captivating people to getting them talking?
    In advertising, of course, any time you can get people talking it is a success. Perhaps data analysis has become too advanced, or the practice of marketing too sophisticated, but there seems to be such concern about the effect on sales that nothing new is being produced anymore. When you're limiting expression to a predictable range, it's not easy for you to produce works with that capacity to surprise and captivate. For works of entertainment, it's important to be provocative and do things no one has ever done before, like with SPACE BALLOON PROJECT.

    With so many awards out there, how do you see the Japan Media Arts Festival?
    In a word, it's a hodgepodge (laughs). I don't think you could find anywhere else with the same mix of animation, manga, advertising, contemporary art and film in one place, and at this scale. Bringing together creators from such a range of genres generates a special sense of excitement and festivity, and this atmosphere also draws in young people who aspire to join these industries. I think this is tremendously important for the future. Many field-specific awards tend to have the feeling of an authoritative salon, but you won't find that at the Japan Media Arts Festival. I think the mixing together of creators and their work in an open forum, and the new ideas it inspires, gives a special impetus. The Japan Media Arts Festival is an important opportunity for those who create entertainment to learn about design and technology, and for those who create art to learn about entertainment. It certainly has that potential and that promise.This sound sculpture is unique with its overwhelming material touch, which is seen as an inverse image of the invisible realms symbolized by the Internet, particularly against the backdrop of the global expansion of the worldwide web. However, the theme of this work does not embrace concepts such as externality and antihuman alterity. What matters is the transfiguration of space, time and our consciousness and physical sensitivity triggered by the sound sculpture. Upon facing it, spectators are sure to experience spiritual awe that goes beyond the limits of the purely physical.