Award-winning Works
Animation Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


    Animation Director
    A Place Where Unreal Things can be Created
    What was interesting for me was that I could be part of a jury which agreed on the outstanding nature of thesame works using the same criteria, regardless of whether they were made by students or professionals, in Japan or overseas, with small budgets or on a large-scale. That with Approved For Adoption a work from abroad won the Grand Prize, marks a rare case in the history of the festival so far. The work thoughtfully expressed,through the childhood of the creator, the instability of identity using hues characteristic of a bande dessinée (French-language comics) artist. I would like to praise the fact that, while being CG-based, it combined 8mm film and photos to achieve a balance of expression without adhering to any one technique.Filled with the wondrous sensation of falling through the air, Patema Inverted was impressive for adopting the concept of "thinking in reverse" and effectively giving it coherent form as a piece of entertainment. I was also able to simply enjoy the story of Golden Time, an animated short film leading one to realize that "wherever you are, there is always a place for you". The fantasy work Premier Automne, depicting in minute detail two youngsters who live in incompatible worlds, and Airy Me, where "desire" can be enjoyed as the visual sensation of movement through space also left an impression. In comparison to commercial animation, animated short films occupy a field where the individuality of the artist can be expressed in its entirety, but in many recent short films there is not only a keen sense of artistic individuality but also a strong entertainment value. However, I still think there is room for styles with stronger originality. I want the work to exist as the "creator's scream".Animation is "a place where unreal things can be created". It is where things that cannot fly can be madeairborne, where the cosmos or cells can be visualized, and where unlimited expression in any dimension is possible. In order to break through walls encountered, we may say that, less than expression achieved through cumulative addition, it is expression born from the subtraction of ideas which is more effective. Perhaps there is an important hint to be found within haiku or tanka, in contrast to the density of today's urban society, filled to overflowing.
  • WADA Toshikatsu
    Animation Artist
    The Freedom of Animation
    It is pleasing to know that this year out of all the animated short film submissions (511), the number fromoverseas (297) greatly exceeded that of Japanese (214). From the outset, with the exception of being limited to animation, this division has been an open competition not only for all nationalities, but also for pros/amateurs, and feature-length/short films, and we can say that this result is proof of the festival taking root abroad as an "international competition" with such openness. Consequently, it is not surprising that overseas submissions are among the Award-winning Works and Jury Selections, and while these highquality works gather at the same international level, they are also an outstanding selection in which a rich "freedom" of variety can be sensed.Looking only at the short films, the Japanese entries WONDER, Anomalies, and Snow Hut are works by individual artists transcending easy categorization in terms of content, while the finish and power of studio-production short films Shashinkan, Kick-Heart, and Hinata no Aoshigure, imbued with the character of each staff member, was also superb.Among the overseas works, notably in the work of students, craftsman-like techniques with high precision shine, GrandFather, Semáforo, and Premier Automne serving as good examples. With this resoluteness on the one hand, "blown away" would be the more suitable expression for new faces KUNO Yoko, HIMEDA Manabu, and Jury Selections Shishi YAMAZAKI and KABUKI Sawako, young individual Japanese artists and students whose astounding artistic styles are unmissable.In summary, the appeal of this festival is not in polarized categorizations such as short /feature-length, Japanese/foreign, independent artist/commercial team but in the anticipation of a future crossover, fusion or intersection between them. The Hyuga Episodes of Kojiki commissioned for TV by YAMAMURA Koji, and the courageous INABA Takuya, who together with veteran staff realized Golden Time as a "short fi lm" without conforming to a system of production or media, allow us to feel the "freedom" of the animated medium. In this very sense, Approved for Adoption was a masterpiece worthy of the Grand Prize for going beyond nationality, method and the frame of the animated short format.
  • SUGII Gisaburo
    Applause for Japanese Entertainment Works Taking up the Challenge
    I was principally in charge of judging work in the animated feature film and TV animation fields. There were76 entries in all, 59 of which were submissions from within Japan. Although the Grand Prize was awarded to an overseas work, I was left with the impression that there has been real progress in CG technology in the world of Japanese animated works, while their expressive power continues to increase.However, among the animated films and animated TV series that were submitted, many were by directors whose names are already familiar. While these works possessed a high degree of perfection, it was a pity that they seemed to lack anything unfamiliar and surprising. In comparison, there were many short films submitted by overseas artists, and I observed their wide-ranging use of animation techniques and contents with keen interest.In works of entertainment made for release in theaters or on TV there is a requirement to meet the desires of the age, while the production of works with creative freedom such as short films takes place in difficult conditions. With this in mind, I would like to applaud the directors and staff of the Excellence Awards for their defiant approach. I fear that advances in technology might guide the direction taken by creators as they aim for an increasing level of perfection, but I hold hopes that strong narrative appeal will transcend such trends and enhance the tractive power of Japanese animation in the entertainment field.
  • KOIDE Masashi
    Animation Researcher and Professor, Tokyo Zokei University
    A Few Considerations at the Completion of the Jury Selection
    The Japan Media Arts Festival has accumulated 17 years since its establishment, and while the two categories "animated feature film/animated series/original video animation (OVA)" (hereafter, feature film/TV animation) and "animated short film" (hereafter, short film) exist in the Animation Division, I felt there was a major problem in giving equal treatment to a feature-length film and TV series, of which one episode can also be regarded as a short film, and in judging an animation independently produced by an artist and a commercially commissioned short film in the same category. However, in actually being involved in the selection, I also felt the merits of hybrid categories which, in going beyond the standpoints and objectives of professionals, amateurs and students, or viewing-time divisions, can be considered to have few precedents among world media festivals. In the comprehensive final screening which transcends both categories, it is also possible to give ample consideration to the comprehensiveness, diversity, depth and range of popularity of each work. I have come to think that as animation continues to diversify, the ability to accommodate future works which go beyond existing formats, contents or expressions is, when viewing this division as a type of animation film festival, one of this festival's distinctive features, and if anything one of its advantages.Of course I can also fully appreciate differing opinions and criticisms. Focusing on the next ten or twenty years, in order to guarantee the easing/dissolution of the difficulties in judging work, and greater fairness/objectivity, it goes without saying that sustained efforts are required. And we can assume this effort will come to nurture the aforementioned feature into a clear strength of the festival.The total number of submissions to the Animation Division was 587, the most to date, while 511 short film entries received was, in comparison to other animated film festivals, a favorable figure we can be proud of. On the other hand, 76 feature film/TV entries received is certainly significant, but not necessarily a large number when considering that 159 new animated TV titles and 59 new feature-length titles were released in Japan in 2012. In terms of content, many of the featured short films were works that had gained popularity during the year, but this cannot necessarily be said about the feature film/TV entries. Insofar as this festival has adopted an open system of eligibility and from the viewpoint of fairness or validity in relation to pro-motion and the giving of prizes in this field, then this remains an unavoidable issue of the future.Among the entries, Japanese works again occupied the center of the feature film/TV category, but international expansion was seen among the short film submissions, leading me to sense the festival's establishment in the international animation world. It can also be said that in this division too the festival has enjoyed wide international visibility throughout its 17-year history, receiving entries of outstanding works in the same fashion as this year's Grand Prize Winner not through a domestic distributor but directly from the creators.In both categories the remarkable progress of digitization since the 1990s has reached completion, and its maturity can be seen not only in terms of technique but also expression. The 17 years of the Japan Media Arts Festival have also been accompanied by both an expansion and deepening of digitized animation. The benefits of a level of quality unattainable in the era of film undoubtedly apply to feature-length/TV animations, but also to short films by independent artists and the animated works of students. This is because even within Japanese specialist 2D animation (digital cell-like animation) which differs from European and American 3DCG photo-realism and digital puppet animation, 3DCG and digital 2D are making big contributions both to cost effectiveness and the expansion of expressive capabilities. Hurdles still remain in the integration of complex conventional analog techniques and expressions, but I sensed anew the maturity of digital animation techniques in achieving, almost without any incongruity, the seamless integration and fusion of cell-style animation and 3DCG-style expression, drawing and painting, puppets and objects, and cutouts. This time, the jury consisted of two artists from the field of short film and two artists from the field of feature film/TV animation with me acting as a bridge between them, and it can be said that, without extreme disparity of aesthetic values or outlooks on animation, and while respecting the standards of each jury member, a discussion in the final screening involving both parties was achieved in which mutual standpoints and opinions were reached to make an impartial and appropriate selection. As a result, I consider that a work with qualities different from Award-winning Works of the past was selected for the Grand Prize, and that prizes were given to many new talents for their outstanding work.
  • OHI Fumio
    Animation Artist
    New Possibilities in Unpredictable Directions
    I had recognized in recent years that young Japanese artists have been in good form, but on becoming a judge at the Media Ar ts Festival for the first time I could observe this reality directly, and it was a surpriseto see not only the quality but also the number of high-quality works. Speaking about the short works in particular, I could sense the powerful energy of the young artists in the three works receiving the New Face Award, the Jury Selections, and also among those works which only marginally missed selection.To simply say "young = new" is inaccurate. With creators of works like YOKOSOBOKUDESU Selection we can feel both freshness and a sense of otherness. It may be said that the very character of those who make animation is clearly other than conventional. Everything necessary for video, music, and other expressive forms is conveyed by a single individual. The digitization of product ion methods has allowed for the completion of an entire work through individual labor, yet the ability to command this level of expression is a real surprise. In encountering works produced using such a multitude of abilities, I feel I have seen greater possibilities for animation as an expressive medium.Generally speaking, it could be seen in many works by young Japanese artists that the creators' gaze was turned to an ambiguous "something" squirming within themselves. This was not without some intelligibility, and indeed this becomes the idiosyncratic nature of the work. In comparison, among overseas submissions there was a visible intention to create a clearly defined video expression, and technical mastery with a strong sense of professionalism could be seen. Not-withstanding this distinction, a few Japanese submissions such as Golden Time and WHILE THE CROW WEEPS were rich in character while also employing consistently applied production methods.The Grand Prize-winner Approved for Adoption stood out among works in which themes relating to society were rare. It surpassed much Japanese animation which gave priority to the works' entertainment value. I was brought to consider the meaning generated by this feature-length work, and the way a culture of animation makes the planning, production and final presentation of work possible.