Award-winning Works
Entertainment Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • YONEMITSU Kazunari
    Game Designer
    Some Well-Fought Debates
    The Grand Prize winners will be SHIN GODZILLA, Pokémon GO, and okazakitaiiku "MUSIC VIDEO." Who could disagree? Such were my thoughts as I arrived at the jury's final meeting. I knew, of course, that we had only one Grand Prize to give. We couldn't possibly select three works. But it had to be one of those three. Yet, there was no real way to compare them. A video work, a game app, and a music video--different categories, different genres. And each with a different target. It was like trying to compare the long jump and rhythmic gymnastics and soccer. The quality of execution was indistinguishable. In which case it fell to simple gut feelings about which work fit best for the Grand Prize. I anticipated a vigorous debate over each juror's sense of what the Grand Prize represents.But as it turned out, it wasn't so simple. Some jurors put forth other candidates, and there was even a suggestion to leave the Grand Prize spot vacant. The battle was on. I thought I was grown-up enough to know how to keep my voice under control, but for the first time in recent memory I found myself getting worked up--feeling rather like I was on the disaster response team in SHIN GODZILLA. I considered it out of the question that we would skip a Grand Prize altogether for a year as important to entertainment as 2016 had been--especially with so many excellent candidates to represent the year staring us in the face, works that were in fact sure to affect the course of entertainment for years to come. But I am delighted that our well-fought debates culminated in the selection of truly outstanding works for the Grand Prize, Excellence Awards, and New Face Awards.There were, as well, many remarkable works among those that did not receive awards, such as Winning Eleven 2016, LineFORM, NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Ultimate Ninja STORM 4, Rez Infinite, TTT (Table Tennis Trainer), GIGA SELFIE, Orphe: Smart Footwear, and SPEED CHESS. Even many of those that did not make the Jury Selections list were of very high quality.It was difficult to advocate for some smaller, meticulously crafted games, and they were eliminated. The selections are not based on objective judgments or standards. I approached the task as faithfully as I could, all too aware of the limitations inherent in the act of judging, yet at the same time feeling that that was what made the task meaningful.
  • SATO Naoki
    Art Director and Professor, Tama Art University
    The Shape of Entertainment to Come
    I found myself wondering if the time for having a distinct "entertainment" division within "media arts" may have run its course. When I think about the rapid and historically remarkable development of digital media over the past 20 years, I can certainly understand why "media arts" became a category, and it is natural enough that the direction "entertainment" takes within that category should be of great interest. Since entertainment had developed without digital media until that point, there was good reason not to just idly watch how things subsequently changed, but to actively applaud those who dared to take up the challenges of the new. It was a highly meaningful step. I especially remember feeling that way when I learned of last year's Grand Prize winner.But having personally become a juror for the first time this year, I could not help feeling a need to rethink what we expect of "entertainment." In fact, I believe our results served to bring that need into relief. Not that I'm asking for a more precise definition of the category to aid in judging submissions. As far as definitions go, "anything that gives people a good time" should be sufficient. The question is: What exactly makes for a "good time" today? Also, when the number of people looking for "content" is exceeded by the number of people who have begun to grow tired of consuming "content"--and my hunch says that time is now--what exactly should come next? That's what I found myself wondering about.From that perspective, I had been thinking that the Konbini DJ (Convenience Store DJ) events conducted by KISHINO Yuichi, who won the Grand Prize in the Entertainment Division last year for his Tadashii kazu no kazoekata (Best way for counting numbers), represented a major shift in the entertainment space, but no submission was made to the festival. Another event of interest in 2016 was the successful theatrical release of a crowdfunded feature film based on the manga Kono sekai no katasumi ni (In This Corner of the World). The sequence of the project's development made me feel tremendously optimistic about the future--precisely because it represented a totality of connections among people of a kind that does not lend itself to submission to a festival. What needs to be done to shine a light on such qualities and actuate new standards of evaluation? I believe we are coming to a new turning point--among other things, for the policy of only selecting awardees from among the entries submitted.
    Designer and Creative Director
    Discovering and Confirming Creativity
    What does the future hold for the world? Where are the times taking us? Whether we are speaking of social change or of technology, the real world drives us onward, irresistibly, in directions even the imagination of artists cannot have conceived. We are in an age when personal and local information from all over the world can be instantly shared. Many envisioned such an era as being one of openness. But it also means unexplored regions have disappeared from the planet, which makes us more aware of its finiteness. When the last frontiers are gone, will human creativity be able to break us out of our sense of entrapment?It has often been said that art plays the role of a pointing finger. Perhaps the same can be said of advanced design. Has the modernist vision of a future in which humans grow ever more sophisticated and evolved broken down, or are we merely experiencing the confusion that comes before a casting-off and self-renewal?At a time when a large number of powerful voices threatens to drown out small, delicate, and more diverse voices, it is vital--and carries tremendous meaning for the future--for us to identify and single out the latter, both in the world of expression and that of science and invention. Dissent is what shapes the coming generation.As I survey the winners of this year's festival with such thoughts going through my mind, it appears to me that a group of major commercial submissions dominated the field. They are indeed all excellent works. And I think it can be said without doubt that they represent superlative expressions of the moment in time that was 2016.At the same time, I am left questioning whether these works can live up to the expectations of festival attendees who will be traveling varying distances to the exhibition hall in hopes of discovering something they have not known before. In saying this I am not blaming the works themselves, but rather laying bare the values and discernment of those of us charged with the presumptuous task of being arbiters: our deliberations might be described as having been a process of "confirming the tenor of the times."If, as this process suggests, the Japan Media Arts Festival is a mirror of the age, then might it be possible, by ever so slightly adjusting the angle of the mirror, to change the direction in which the reflected light shines? Whether a mirror passively reflects the objects before it, or actively directs light to fall on something and illuminate it, depends on how the mirror is placed. I'd like this mirror to be like a finger gently pointing toward new values and directions, saying "Please look this way."There is also the matter of the place, time, and context in which an object or expression is situated. There are cases where the backdrop or the surrounding environment is more important than the creative work itself. Otherwise unremarkable surroundings bestow value on the object within--much as the Egyptian pyramids inspire more awe because of their desert backdrop than they do purely from their geometric shape.Among these works are some that I would like to see preserved, that certainly ought to be preserved, as a record of the times, and of the circumstances and atmosphere of the age. It is thanks to the works in the majority that we are able to see the uniqueness of the unique. The struggle intensifies over how to show and preserve the contrast between the two.An impression I got last year, which has been reaffirmed this year, is that the modus operandi of simply taking an existing trend and extrapolating on it with a twist is essentially played out. The real world moves along with a dynamism that exceeds all imagination . . . From it emerges something like "a new feeling," and beyond that "the new normal." We may be in a period when a creativity with explosive breakthrough potential is gestating just beneath the surface. At least that's how it feels to me.People create objects, events, ideas, expressions, and other people see, hear, touch, feel them: that is direct impact. Creative works attain their meaning and fulfill their role simply by being produced and reaching their intended audience. In that case, what meaning is there in subsequently gathering up those works in a special effort to appraise them? The meaning is found, I believe, in discovering new values and perspectives, presenting them to the public, and shining a light on the future. By carrying on this process, an arts festival becomes a "garden of culture" not just for nurturing the next generation, but for sustaining the entire world.
  • KUDO Takeshi
    Curator, Aomori Museum of Art
    Entertainment at a Turning Point?
    I believe future generations will look back on 2016 as an important turning point in our era. The Kumamoto earthquakes that struck in April, just after the country had marked five years since the Great East Japan Earthquake, reminded us of the fragility of our daily existence. Meanwhile, the world had continuing wars, a worsening refugee crisis, the European Union in upheaval, political demagogues gaining power, and market economies in saturation--which is to say, it was a year when long-held assumptions and values were overturned. On the technology front as well, artificial intelligence went from mere buzzword to reality as a result of deep learning and the growing Internet of Things, and social bots and virtual reality surged in popularity--all demonstrations that our technological environment will continue to change at an accelerating rate.The year's entries included many works that addressed up-to-the minute social issues and made use of cutting-edge technologies, but I came away with the sense that artists are still groping at how to fit technology to content. It underscored for me the inherent difficulty of having "progress" coexist with "maturity" in technological works. Likewise, works that were both technological and commercial in nature showed advancement in their visual sophistication, yet when considering whether the quality of the viewing experience had been deepened, I was left somewhat disappointed--even after accounting for the commercial element.That said, okazakitaiiku "MUSIC VIDEO", which hits viewers with a relentless barrage of music video cliches, demonstrated with offhanded ease that an artist in possession of superior sensibilities and powers of expression need not have a large budget. I imagine the New Face Award it received will be an encouragement to other artists working entirely on their own. And then there were Grand Prize winner SHIN GODZILLA and Excellence Award winner Pokémon GO, both of which became full-fledged cultural phenomena. The former made masterful use of devices like homage, quotation, and parody in what amounted to a summation of postwar Japanese history, and the latter used a popular game character to further cement the place of mobile technology in the public consciousness--while also showing us something about the future of the relationship between our bodies and our technologies. I expect that these two works will be long remembered as emblematic of the turning point that 2016 became.
  • ENDO Masanobu
    Game Creator and Professor, Tokyo Polytechnic University
    Want to See, Rather than Want You to See
    For a first-time jury member like myself, screening the broad spectrum of submissions in the Entertainment Division felt a little like watching a free-for-all among different martial arts.Since there is a separate Art Division, I focused first of all on whether the works were entertaining in a way that anyone in the general public could enjoy. After that I looked for something outstanding in a work's conception that I thought made it worthy of a prize coming out of Japan, as well as for works I felt were capable of giving the viewer a surprise. When in doubt, I tilted toward the works I personally wanted to experience, or that made me want to relay the experience to others.In looking at "media arts" as a whole, even when a work demands a very high level of skill, you want it to seem so natural and effortless that the artist's skills appear utterly superfluous. When the result stirs the heart, feels like magic, or utterly dumbfounds in the good sense of the word?I think that's where the essence of entertainment lies.Precisely in this sense, the two award-winning works dealing with human sensory perception, Unlimited Corridor and NO SALT RESTAURANT, initially inspire disbelief. Yet the underlying technologies ultimately give them tremendous persuasive power. The former takes advantage of the systems humans have developed to orient themselves safely, manipulating subjects' absolute confidence in their sense of touch to alter their perception of space without upsetting their equilibrium. The latter fixes on our preference for salty flavors and presents a taste-sense reproduction technology, albeit limited to saltiness, that actually enriches people's lives through its practical benefit--which I felt made it particularly meaningful.I gave Grand Prize winner SHIN GODZILLA high marks for the way it uses points of contact between entertainment and real life as a hook for creating an alternate-reality experience. As it happens, Godzilla's path runs through my own everyday haunts, so it made me feel as if I were on holy ground without ever leaving home, and the bomb on the deserted train did indeed dumbfound me in a good way.Although it entailed going through a huge amount of material in order to make my decisions, I'd like to thank the artists for submitting so many highly stimulating works.