Award-winning Works
Animation Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • WADA Toshikatsu
    Animation Artist
    The Power of Young Creators of Animated Shorts
    The judging started with viewing all 371 animated short films. Last year there were over 500, so I had anticipated things to be smoother this year, but actually we had trouble. There was an increase in the must-see works and the works we wanted to introduce. In general, this year student works were an elite minority. What stood out the most were the energetic works of younger artists in their late twenties and early thirties, who had studied animation during their student days and then continued to make works after graduating. While a student you have your school to fall back on; the problems come when you leave. With animated shorts, they are difficult to commercialize, meaning you have no option but to pull it off by your own ability either by paying for everything yourself or through government subsidy. This strength to thrive in such a world with gusto, in spite of the challenges, and to produce new works continues to overwhelm. There were many works I wanted to introduce to audiences, but we were limited to how many Jury Selections we could have, making the judging truly an irksome process. That five (including the Grand Prize-winner) of the eight award-winning works were animated short films by young artists shows the accolades now being heaped on this youthful power.
    One trend in the content that was particularly striking was the many works themed around the individual and its existence. This is always a frequent topic for self-produced animated shorts, though conversely its poignancy may be intensifying the more communication becomes global and instantaneous. However, this year there seemed to be many imaginary works that broke down the axes of time and dismantled narrative. The artistic expression was excellent but often the works forfeited objectivity by getting lost within themselves, instead falling into a self-imposed framework to become conventional by-the-numbers private films. In this way, the award-winners The Wound, My Milk Cup Cow, and Man on the chair were masterpieces in that they treated the individual and its psychology objectively, but also achieved universality by their exceptional artistic expression. And to this, I also want to highlight the ambition of veterans like ITO Yuichi (Blue Eyes - in HARBOR TALE -) and TEZKA Macoto (Legends of the Forest Part 2), and add that storytelling still burns brightly. At any rate, this was the 18th Japan Media Arts Festival, where one can get an overview of everything.
    Animation Director
    The Evolution of Animation Technology and Reflections on Individual Expression
    This year's festival brought together rich talent in animated feature films, TV series, and short films, reconfirming the depth of animation expression, while also reminding us of the difficulty of forging new ground in the medium. With the Japanese works the difference between professional and amateur was evenly balanced, and they shared a somewhat similar character. I felt that this is related to how the world has become closer and the borders between countries have disappeared. However, while I could recognize that animated short film is a field of expression capable of exhibiting something unique, the year as a whole seemed to lack punch in terms of the diversity of expression. In the age when the individual can use CGI and when the viewer can easily see animation and video works all over the Web, how can we elicit reflection and empathy from the viewer in regard to theme and creative form? This is a dilemma that arises in any age and field whenever you aspire to express something, and yet I could feel through the works that we still need to consider this more deeply and challenge creativity.
    This year's Grand Prize-winner, The Wound, richly ponders in an original style the theme of the dialogue with one's own Self as it exists in humanity, a subject pioneers have long attempted. It is a superb example of how the key to unlock new doors of expression often lies within reach. It's not because everything has been tried. It's about how to refine things. How to put what only you can feel into a form and convey it? I want to train the eye to refine creativity, the root of artistic expression. Personally, I felt that this year's "limited animation" works such as KILL la KILL, Crayon Shinchan: Serious Battle! Robot Dad Strikes Back, and PING PONG, were enjoyable and had the appeal of expression that can only be found in animation's verve and, in a good sense, its reckless techniques of direction.
  • TAKAHASHI Ryosuke
    Animation Director
    Devoting Yourself to a Rich Fatigue
    This was something that obsessed me during the judging and still now, after it is over. What is the role for television animation in Japan? And also, what does it contribute? This was caused by my being in charge of judging this year's animated feature film/animated TV series/original video animation category, but it seemed that many of the entries had their origins in animated TV series. In my opinion, the significance of Japanese animation drastically changed before and after 1963. There is no need to set this down here but 1963 saw the first broadcast of the 30-minute animated TV series Astro Boy. Prior to this, animation was just animation in Japan. There were many excellent works. However, with the birth of Astro Boy, Japanese animation became something decisively different to its global counterparts. It was like the Cambrian explosion of anime. We have the label Japanimation, though its interpretations are various. For me, it means a diversity that you cannot see elsewhere in the world. There are indeed extreme robot action animations, but there is also genuine children's literature too. There is science fiction and fantasy, but also school sports stories, history and magic, otaku animation... Something for everyone. All manner of genre are fighting for viewers. Once established genres are tempered by fecund audiences, their quality improved as production continues. This seems to be something surprisingly rare in the rest of the world. Looking back at the winners for this year's animated feature films/animated TV series/original video animation entries, I cannot help but sense this even more acutely. And then turning to the animated short films entries, I was also astonished by the richness of the artistry and the level of perfection.
  • KOIDE Masashi
    Animation Researcher and Professor, Tokyo Zokei University
    Towards a New Era
    This is my second year serving on the Jury for the Japan Media Arts Festival's Animation Division. This year I was the main judge and I feel I got a good sense of the judging process. In this division we judge, appraise, and decide the awards for all the entries that fall under the banner of "animation" - animated short films and animated feature films, independent works and commercial releases, general work and student work, computer graphic animation and hand-drawn animation, and from Japan and overseas. While I could sense the downside to this, I once again recognized the merits and excitement of this method.
    There are issues with what is good too. For example, the applicants are the ones who decide their classification - "animated feature film/animated TV series/original video animation", or "animated short film" - so while the Jury may well think something is more valid as an animated short, it may actually be entered as an animated feature film, TV series, or original video animation. Although the division is very broad, on the other hand, there are animation entries that are sent into the Art or Entertainment Divisions. To borrow the words of TSUTSUI Yasutaka on science fiction, this is probably revealing of the permeation and proliferation of "animation", or, to borrow next from Walter PATER on music, it might well be that all art constantly aspires towards the condition of animation. Be that as it may, being involved with the judging for the Animation Division gives you a deep sense of the diversity and possibilities of animation, while also leaving you with the impression that as its social approval and territorial independence rises, the animation in film festivals and arts festivals is being driven into a single framework.
    At any rate, in the Animation Division for this festival we can certainly see an increase, quantitatively and qualitatively, in the spread and diversity of animation. Last year it was an overseas work that won the Grand Prize - not only a feature film but a documentary animation at that - while the New Face Awards were monopolized by young Japanese animators. This year, though, it was another overseas artist who won the Grand Prize, and with a short film. Moreover, she is an artist so young she could even be called a New Face. The judging is comprehensive and cross-category, and while the prizes are established by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan, entries are accepted regardless of country or region. We might then think of this year's result as part of the natural course, and yet we might also say that a win once again for an overseas work, an animated short undeniably with disadvantages compared to longer works made by multiple people and with larger budgets, demonstrates the distinctive character of the festival's judging and its international growth. And that the prize was won by an artist so young is testament to how fresh talent is truly coming to the fore in this field. There were certainly rare examples where you can sense the patina of a master far removed from the newcomers. The digitalization of animation, touched upon in last year's critique, has matured, which has arguably been supported by the expansion of high school education in this area.
    The Excellence and New Face Awards showed how Japanese commercial animation is alive and kicking. Crayon Shin-chan: Serious Battle! Robot Dad Strikes Back is a symbolic piece of the Japanese animation scene, which produces numerous gems among all the works made yearly as part of long-running series. Giovanni's Island showed the raw capability of Japanese animation to make something of quality as works that reflect deeply on society. New Face Award-winner YAMADA Naoko has already been picked by many as a director of note. Her work represents the everyday story style - one of several genres showing the unique and multifaceted nature of Japanese animation - while she is also a symbol of the progress female artists have made. For the animated shorts, overseas entries dominated both the Excellence and New Face Awards, but all were masterful works and in particular the New Face Awardwinners demonstrated the level of quality among student and young artists' work today.
    Of special mention is that WATANABE Yasushi was given the Special Achievement Award in the animation field. Until now numerous artists have been cited through this award and in recent years technical staff have also started to receive recognition, but it is virtually unheard of in this field for a critic or researcher to be rewarded like this. Looking over the Grand Prize, Excellence Awards, New Face Awards, and Special Achievement Award, we can perhaps say that both the Japan Media Arts Festival and the animation world have entered a new era.
  • OHI Fumio
    Animation Artist
    Differences in Gravity between Artworks
    What was somewhat disappointing this year was how the animated short film entries from Japan seemed to lack punch. This was a shame, considering how last year there was such an abundance of youthful and strikingly individual works. By contrast, as we can see in the Grand Prize-winner The Wound, and Excellence Award-winners PADRE and The Sense of touch, the animated short films from overseas were the real deal, where the artists were boldly confronting universal themes. New Face Awards were given to Man on the chair, from Korea, and My Milk Cup Cow, which was entered from inside Japan but was a rich work by a Chinese director squarely examining life in Chinese culture. Even in the Jury Selections, while not making the grade for the awards themselves, nonetheless there were numerous superb and weighty works from overseas.
    It is likely a fool's errand simply to compare Japanese works with those from overseas. One cannot just look at the entries to the festival as representative of all the trends in the scene. And yet, surveying the animated shorts entered this year, relatively speaking only a few of the Japanese works seemed to have some gravity to them, whereas quite a number felt immature. Is this reflecting how youth culture seems today to be getting younger and younger in Japan? Or is rather the blame on the physiology of a generation who has grown accustomed in this digital age to ceaseless communication without deeper consideration? Believing a discussion of the social or the spiritual to be dubious or uncouth is not unrelated to this shift towards settling for a kind of lightness. There is a sense of weakness in the ability of some animators to create self-contained messages for others by expressing what is seen internally from a private perspective (which they perceive as their individuality). But even with works of this kind, if its power or the downward pull of its gravity can be conveyed to the viewer then it will stand out as fresh and transcend the immature, leaving a very different impression indeed.