Award-winning Works
Animation Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • WADA Toshikatsu
    Animation Artist
    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!
    Animation Artist
    A Diversity of Japanese Animation Shorts
    Though there may be no specific trends to distinguish this year's crop from those of past years, I am happy to see how diverse the selection of Japanese animated short films has become. It was truly a challenge to whittle the entries down to the requisite number of Jury Selections. There were plenty of fascinating, well-made works that unfortunately did not make the cut. The final step in the screening process was a comparison with past works to determine if the current entry could be said to be superior to its predecessors in the same genre. If not, it was rejected.
    Among the growing proportion of works from abroad were numerous CG animations by students who could clearly get jobs tomorrow at one of the world's major production studios. But I was more intrigued by works from Japan that glowed with a bright, do-as-you-please individuality in theme or style. Perhaps many of these overseas student works were created for the purpose of displaying their entire skill set with an eye to future employment in the industry, with a proportional loss of idiosyncratic charm. Conversely, with so many superb young talents on display in the short-feature animations from Japan, it seems a shame they don't have more direct access to the commercial animation world. Many entrants are already working in CG or art jobs, but there are talented artists outside the animator-to-animation-director-to-director track too.
    It also appears that a Japanese style is coming to fruition in the hybridizing of CG and hand-drawn animation, as evidenced by the high marks received by Grand Prize winner COMBUSTIBLE, Excellence Award winner ASURA, and New Face Award winner LUPIN the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, all masterful works. Also deserving mention is the sublime artistry of Oh Willy..., an overseas entry.
  • HIKAWA Ryusuke
    Animation Critic
    Seeking Further Advances in Visual Expression
    Submissions from around the world to the Animation Division have increased year by year, and this year the task of narrowing down the award candidates put us in a happy quandary. Because animation is a field in which advances in digital technology are easy to see and readily reflected in the quality of what appears onscreen, one gets the impression that high-quality works are proliferating with every year. This year the internationalization of the short-film category was conspicuous, but I thought that Japanese artists made powerful work as well. It is intriguing that the Grand Prize winner COMBUSTIBLE, an attempt to give animated form to a cultural phenomenon associated with traditional Japan, the great fires of the Edo period, was created by OTOMO Katsuhiro, an artist renowned globally for AKIRA. There are many as yet unexplored possibilities for "distinctively Japanese" animation of this sort.
    Whereas TV animations were prominent at the 14th and 15th festivals (2010 and 2011), 2012 could be called the year of the animated feature film, as reflected in the soaring number of works made for theatrical release. Though most of these projects presumably began before 3.11, there was a noticeable trend toward works on themes related to life and its continuance. Many films intrepidly pushed the envelope in their use of computer graphics, particularly for characters. In telling a harsh tale of life and death in extreme circumstances, ASURA, an Excellence Award winner, wielded an expressive power that signified a breakthrough and, hopefully, a watershed in the medium. Many works also assigned priority to handmade textures. There was a richness in the drawings of works like the Excellence Award-winning WOLF CHILDREN, which emphasized a gentleness of movement, while others like the New Face Award recipient LUPIN the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine boasted a clarity of line; overall, the range of diversity was impressive.
    It seems to be the season for expanding the expressive palate by hybridizing a wide range of techniques. This holds true for every year of the festival, but this year in particular I hope visitors will savor the full array of works on view, including the Jury Selections. May the aura emanating from that overview inspire new creators and lead to further increases in the number of quality works submitted to this festival.
  • OSHII Mamoru
    Film Director
    The Rise of “Everyday Life” as a Subject
    The story has suffered a noticeable decline. Or perhaps it would be more apt to say that the narrative urge is vanishing from animation.
    This is a trend that began a few years ago. Irrespective of what may be going on in TV series or films, storytelling in animation has decreased drastically, and in its place the subject of "everyday life" has taken the animation world by storm. There is clearly a proliferation of works that attempt nothing more than to depict the emotional inner workings of their characters in ordinary settings - or more precisely, to depict their "moods." It seems, indeed, that this has already become not just a trend, but something approaching an actual genre.
    Perhaps there simply isn't as much demand for drama as there once was. But from a creator's standpoint, one can't help but wonder if this is a good thing. After all, the history of Japanese animation has been that of a single-minded quest for drama, for a good story, and it was this obsession that spawned the distinctive qualities of the genre. It didn't matter if the expression itself was crude or artless, as long as it told a story. If we simply discard the unique mode of expression this approach engendered, what type of expression can we expect to emerge in its place?
    It is unthinkable that the "everyday" can ever replace the narrative. This is why I tried to show my support for the few works that displayed a desire to tell new stories in this era of narrative decline.