Award-winning Works
Animation Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • YOKOTA Masao
    MD and Ph.D., Professor, Nihon University
    The Diversity of Japanese Animation
    Being a member of the jury for the Animation Division in the 20th Japan Media Arts Festival was quite taxing but also a genuine delight. I'd like to remark here on a few observations I made. First is that the works by Japanese artists show a strong interest in the past. Although this inclination is not entirely new, it seems to have grown more pronounced. In your name., for example, there is an attempt to return to the past to (or an actual participant tries beforehand) to prevent the damage that occurs in a major disaster. In ERASED, a character tries to go back in time to prevent his mother from being killed. In A Silent Voice, past experiences as both bully and victim have a major impact on the present.While on the one hand I observed this fixation with the past, I also noticed a distinctive characteristic in portrayals of the present--specifically, a sliding into fantasy. In Pigtails, a girl who lives alone watches objects in her home begin to talk as if they are living creatures. In Chieri and Cherry, protagonist Chieri wanders into another world. Or in some instances the entire world being depicted is an alien one, as with KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRESS and Owarimonogatari.Some works do portray ordinary reality. For example, Sound! Euphonium: The Movie - Welcome to the Kitauji High School Concert Band shows the process by which members of the band work to improve their performance. As I look back over the animation selections in this way, I am struck by the diversity of the Japanese entries, but I also see that they hold something in common. They display a shared belief in the importance of the human heart, and that heart-to-heart contacts between people are to be cherished above all else. Among the works from overseas, for example, THE EMPTY shows dust piling up in an empty room to suggest the end of a relationship, and Boy and the World treats a boy's encounters in an unfamiliar world as the essence of life. When you compare the Japanese entries with works like these, it becomes clear just how much store they place in close, heart-to-heart communication among people.
  • MORINO Kazuma
    Director and CG Artist
    My Hopes for Animated Expression
    This is my first year on the jury, and I must say that both the quality and quantity of the submissions caught me by surprise. The animated shorts were particularly varied in technique and style, and the 559 entries ranged from extremely short to nearly 30 minutes. It was hard to imagine them even competing in the same ring, and indeed, I found the task of evaluating them difficult. But that is in fact one of the great appeals of this festival, and it was ultimately a highly stimulating task. My primary method in taking up this challenge was to rate each film in the categories of story, motion, artistry, originality, technique, impact, and emotional power.Overall, I felt that the quality was very high across the board for both amateur and professional submissions. This reflects the fact that the technical skill of the artists is uniformly high, and it speaks well to the future of the industry. But I did not find a great many works with that special spark that made me catch my breath, and I have to say I was generally underwhelmed by the level of originality and impact. I attribute this to familiar styles of expression and mediocre stories. It was personally disappointing to me that a competition styling itself an arts festival attracted so few works in which we can glimpse the artist stretching to achieve something truly new.In terms of specific selections, the titles I found most memorable and polished were SHINKAI Makoto's your name., a story interwoven with contemporary sensibilities and told in a style rich in color and brilliance, and Alê ABREU's Boy and the World, in which simple drawings burst into motion with an appeal that is unique to animation.Many of the submissions from both Japan and abroad were by students, which testifies to the success college programs are having in bringing up new talent. But it struck me that the works from some schools were all similar in taste, and that was a point of concern. I'd like to see more distinctive, off-the-wall, youthful originality in such submissions in the future.Finally, I'd like to note that some very fine works failed to make the cut for awards, and emphasize that there were many worthy titles among those that did not win. Entrants should be proud of their submissions and not be discouraged or lose confidence. My hope is that they will be spurred to turn out even better works in the future.
  • NISHIKUBO Mizuho
    Visual Director
    How We Engage With Films
    In screening the entries, I found myself reminded at every turn just how versatile and fascinating the medium called animation is. The densely drawn your name. and the minimalist Boy and the World offer a particularly striking contrast as to what an animated film can be.The hit film your name. displays an extremely high degree of polish, with artwork more beautiful than live action, meticulously drawn movements, emotionally engaging music, and, above all, impeccably paced direction. I could quibble about "too much information," but all told, the work sets a new standard for animated films in Japan.By contrast, Boy and the World, which won the Grand Prix at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in 2014, is a work that makes a virtue of very little information, deploying it to maximum effect. The minimalism applies not just to the characters and artwork but to the speech, which is virtually nonexistent, meaning that the story unfolds without explanation. The film effectively leaves everything to the viewer's imagination right down to the end. Each viewer must fill in the extensive blanks with his or her own images. It's a film that makes us think about how we engage with films.Among the high-quality crop of television animations, Mob Psycho 100 and Owarimonogatari stood out to me for the freeness of their expression. I hope we'll see more works with this level of originality being made for the television medium.Among the short subjects, the range of emotions expressed by the star-crossed lovers in A Love Story merely through manipulating woolen yarn is truly wonderful. This is exactly what makes animation so special. Also, Peripheria, a Jury Selection that portrays the sadness of a deserted apartment complex where wild dogs roam, and Ticking Away, which condenses a watchmaker's life down to nine minutes, reaffirmed for me the remarkable ability of animated images to suggest so much more about what lies behind them.Finally, the Italian animated documentary Somalia94 - The Iliaria Alpi affair does a marvelous job of grappling with a serious world concern. I hope we'll see more submissions like this in the future.
  • KIFUNE Tokumitsu
    Animation Artist and Representative, IKIF+ and Professor, Tokyo Zokei University
    The Year of the Full-Length Animation
    For the world of animation--including titles that were not entered in the Japan Media Arts Festival due to eligibility dates--I felt that 2016 was the year of feature-length films. We had numerous superb, powerful, masterpiece-quality titles to choose from, so it was an easy matter to agree that the Grand Prize would go to one of those feature films.Especially considering that not all animated features opening in Japan that year were entered in the festival, participating on the jury drove home to me the sheer number of such works being produced. I imagine one factor is the switchover to digital TV, which has eliminated the wide gap in resolution that used to exist between television and film. In any case it is almost scary to see animated feature films being turned out in such large quantities. At the same time, perhaps we can say that this was the year when mere quantity was overshadowed by quality.By comparison, the footprint made by animated short films seemed somewhat reduced. Nevertheless, it was the shorts that put the phenomenal diversity of animation on full display, and in fact all of the New Face Awards went to short films.When I noted that the movements in a work were very good for 3D computer graphics, a 2D specialist on the panel responded that he thought the movements seemed normal. It made me realize anew that, at a time when digital production has become the norm, flatness has come to be preferred in all expression. It was also a reminder that, with computers becoming as essential to animation as pencils and brushes are to drawing and painting, it is now possible to produce animated films anywhere in the world.It was interesting to see works whose styles seemed unique to their country or region, or might have been influenced by another country, or even showed the influence of Japanese animation, and to think about the fact that they had indeed gathered here from all around the world. I was also fascinated to learn of the variety of animations being shown outside the media I typically consume, appearing in such places as planetariums and on the stage.One Japanese animator has noted that if a work is not on the Internet, it might as well not exist. I was delighted to see that most of the entries are available for streaming on the Internet, and some even permit downloads.
  • TAKAHASHI Ryosuke
    Animation Director
    Going Viral on Social Media
    When we began screening this year's submissions in September 2016, I cavalierly thought to myself, "This year will be easy"--because I already knew that the entries included your name. At that point I hadn't even seen the film yet, but I soon had a chance to confirm with my own eyes what a recordbreaking hit looks like when I went to see it at a multiplex in Osaka on a weekday morning.In the series of meetings our panel held to select winners, your name. started out as the top candidate for the Grand Prize and remained in that position throughout. Not that there was no debate at all. The two main issues of contention were perhaps (1) it lacks originality as a story, and (2) it's not the sort of groundbreaker that's likely to create its own new subgenre.With regard to (1), couldn't it be said that your name. merely followed in the footsteps of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time? The latter got its start in 1967 as a YA novel by TSUTSUI Yasutaka, then became a live-action film starring HARADA Tomoyo in 1983, and finally was made into an animated film under the direction of HOSODA Mamoru, which won the Grand Prize in the Animation Division of the 10th Japan Media Arts Festival in 2007. Imitators and works with a similar premise abound. The plots basically boil down to boy meets girl across space and time due to some triggering event, but about the time their friendship deepens or they begin to have feelings for each other they must part, and the story comes to an end with the characters yearning to be reunited.With regard to (2), your name. certainly displays a very high level of technical skill and expressive power, but it's hard to think of it as potentially giving rise to a whole new current in Japanese animation the way the Kyoto Animation studio once did.These points were raised and debated during our meetings, but in the end the panel unanimously agreed that the work's near perfection deserved the 20th JMAF Animation Division Grand Prize.To add one final thought about the selection of your name., I think it was of considerable significance that director SHINKAI Makoto, who was once spoken of as the standard-bearer for sekaikei ★1 works, added a sense of heft to the production by bringing in TANAKA Masayoshi as character designer and ANDO Masashi as animation director.Among the many other strong works this year, the animated feature Boy and the World struck a chord in one way or another with jurors' experiences in life and brought a lump to everyone's throat. YAMADA Naoko, who directed the feature-length A Silent Voice, was a New Face Award winner two years ago, and the sure hand seen in her progress since then suggests great promise for the future. Similarly, Anna BUDANOVA, who directed the animated short Among the black waves, won the Grand Prize two years ago, and the high artistry of her work stood above the crowd. All of the jurors were blown away by the marvelous technique of the short A Love Story.For the New Face Awards, the youthful sensibilities displayed in both the subject matter and the miniature effects of the animated short Rebellious made me eager to see what the creator will do next. I recognize something extraordinary in the past work of the animators of the short MOOM, and see great possibilities for them in their new departure as independent creators. The animation in the short I Have Dreamed Of You So Much is sharp and beautiful, and shows an outstanding sense of color. The composition of the frames may be quite simple, but the animator applies a subtle touch to every corner and creates a universe all her own.The Special Achievement Award each year goes to someone who has contributed broadly to the field of media arts, and this year we selected IIZUKA Masao. Please see my separate "Reason for Award" statement (p.207).Finally, I'd like to note that, quite apart from my own personal assessments of the works, I sensed very strongly this time that social networks have become an important factor in creating hits. I think the speed and potency with which information and raves about your name. spread around the country catapulted the word-of-mouth effect into a whole new dimension.