Award-winning Works
Animation Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • UDA Kounosuke
    Animation Director
    The Approach that is Inherently Animation’s Strongest Point
    This year, the Grand Prize went to La Chute. Since the works are not separated by category, the Grand Prize is usually awarded to feature films, so it is of a great sig- nificance that a short animation won the highest prize this time around. Although its title translates as "The Fall," to me the film felt as an expression of revival and hope. Perhaps different people will see it in completely different ways, and La Chute is infused with a spirit of tolerance that accepts this broadness of interpretation. My only basis for comparison is last year's festival, but my impression is that this year there were more works that feature the themes of hope and the things beyond it.There were also many films featuring vibrant women. Another point worth mentioning is the large number of works that depict structurally-round characters. Unlike the sharp or overly-designed characters that tend to overwhelm the viewer, these characters softly entice us into a visual world without any intimidation. Even the films dealing with some heavy themes are broad in scope and this enables them to gently draw the audience in, an approach that represents the inher- ently strongest point of animation. Many of the films that remained in the competition until the final stages of screening, such as Okko's Inn, Penguin Highway, and DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan, rely on similar ap- proaches. Also, many of these films can be created only as animation, not as live-action movies, and to me this feels like a return to the roots of the genre.La Chute won the Grand Prize, but I was also im- pressed by several outstanding animations, such as The Girl Without Hands and Invisible. I felt that, while their authors were very particular about specific creative methods of expression, they also made sure that the themes were presented in an easy-to-understand way. Unlike full-length films, which can rely on their story, many short films give priority to image and impressions, which could make them hard to understand. This was not the case with the films competing in the festival, as many of them had wide-ranging themes, which they did not force onto the audience. We tend to discuss trends in film creation on a decade basis, and as this decade is nearing its end, the question arises whether we are about to see a turning point in the trends. I do not think it is that simple, though.
  • KIFUNE Tokumitsu
    Animation Artist and Representative, IKIF+ and Professor, Tokyo Zokei University
    The Significance of Creating Work in Succession
    In consideration of how much work is being produced each year, my feeling is that the field of animation still has potential to continue its expansion further. My sense is that one of the reasons for this is that produc- tion methods in the format are in a constant state of flux, not fixed. While the situation is as challenging as ever for top producers, at this point even a beginner can pick up a tablet and try their hand at making animations with relative ease. Having now reviewed all the submissions, I can conclude with confidence that the artist base is broadening.Selection of the winners was a relatively smooth process. It may be that members of the jury held largely similar points of view. At the same time, it was refreshing and revealing to hear diametrically opposing viewpoints, and I could concede to their validity. In the course of reviewing the submissions, I kept hearing the comments of former mentors in my head: "It doesn't move. Not enough affectation," they would say, "The imagery has a bloodless tone," "This feels too commer- cial." The evaluation of animated films encompasses a wide range of criteria, and I feel there is no issue with these varying from juror to juror. The difference in one work being given an award in the festival and not anoth- er surely does involve qualitative differences in the work submitted, yet it is also linked in considerable measure to the members who happen to comprise the jury panel. I would love to encourage any contestants who did not receive an award this time not to let themselves be dis- couraged, and to submit an entry again next year.That said, it was a truly outstanding work to which the Grand Prize was awarded this year. La Chute fasci- nated with its unreal layering of cyclical, looping motion; something that really could only be expressed with ani- mation. While a previous work by the same artist was a Jury Selection in the Art Division in last year's festival and showed similar tendencies, this particular work had additional charms to offer, such as its narrativity or sense of storyline, and its deeper exploration of the art- ist's vision of the world is made up. In my view, the work is a masterpiece richly deserving of the Grand Prize.I felt that the Jury Selection Liz and the Blue Bird was a masterpiece as well. In its opening moments it features a view of feet walking and continues with a series of scenes that have a feeling of tension reminiscent of experimental film. Among the other Jury Selections, I also felt strongly compelled to nominate Mom's Clothes due to its mesmerizingly pleasing use of the stop-mo- tion technique.Overall, there were many submissions this year that showed artistic growth on the artists' part. This makes me very excited for festival competition in years to come.
  • NISHIKUBO Mizuho
    Visual Director
    Seeking Stimulation
    Many of this year's animated feature films were very co- hesive. The winners of the Excellence Award--Penguin Highway, DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan and Okko's Inn--reached a high degree of perfection. But I was dis- appointed that few films were as stimulating as The Girl Without Hands. That said, there was so much variety among the animated short films--I really enjoyed those.La Chute, which won the Grand Prize, had an eerie worldview similar to the Jigoku Emaki (Hell Scrolls), and the loose shots ask the viewers what they are looking at and feeling. The strange string music also made me feel like something was off. It was really stimulating.I particularly recommend The Girl Without Hands, the feature film that won the Excellence Award. The depic- tion was very refreshing, and really made me think about what animation is. The simplified images reminded me of the Boy and the World, which won the 20th Excellence Award, but The Girl Without Hands cultivates a sense of unfinished roughness that really struck me. The film uses a minimalist approach in which the outlines are drawn in each frame, and then the picture appears as it moves. These rough and fluid images also reflect the main char- acter's emotions. I would especially like people used to animation full of excess information to see this inspiring film, which has lots of blank space.Among the short animated films, I recommend THE LOST GARDEN. The images reminiscent of a beautiful pic- ture book and the rich imagination presented here create a lovely story that is simple and never strident.Love Me, Fear Me is an animated film that uses clay. While simple, the full range of emotions is expressed skill- fully, and a deep reading of it makes it extend into the passage of time.I was also interested in Blue Flight, whose visual beauty makes it more than just an ordinary story, 32-Rbit, whose collage-like images and music create a chemical reaction that left a real impact, and the New Faces Award-winning Am I a Wolf?, which highlighted incredible drawing ability.DEVILMAN crybaby, a series distributed on the Inter- net, is extremely interesting for its multi-layered mix of human desires, including the kind of erotic and grotesque depictions that probably couldn't be shown on TV. This film is also interesting because it was made by a small group of people using Flash animation.
  • MORINO Kazuma
    Director and CG Artist
    Diverse Expression and Differences in Approach
    The diversity of expression in animation in recent years owes a lot to the role of computers and Internet ad- vances. Production methods continue to change, and with a little experience, levels and quality can be en- hanced. It is easier to access information too, so that we can see a vast number of works in terms of both quality and quantity, helping us understand what video expression is. This means that skills can be improved in a short time by combining perception and motiva- tion, and impressive works are created. It makes sense that so many high-quality animated films have been produced recently.When artists present their work, they do so with the hope that their thoughts will be understood and that their art will gain audience. Artists have different views, with some wanting to reach a large audience and some being satisfied if it reaches particularly perceptive people, and this determines the quality of the work. The work's orientation creates both positive and negative aspects, and leads to assessments like "unique," "dep- ersonalized," "difficult" and "easy to understand."This diversity and the differences in how the works approach their audiences makes it difficult to judge ani- mated films, and the judges' own individuality also has an impact.La Chute won the Grand Prize. Not everyone can appreciate its unique sensibility, but the loops in which it is presented (which could be seen as non-conformist and annoyingly persistent) make the viewer feel an overwhelming sense of defeat and succeed in leaving a strong impression on the viewer. This made La Chute worthy of this prize. Invisible was extremely ambitious and left a great impact, and made me feel the unique appeal of animation, which linked pictures appear as moving images.Overall, I felt that many works were excellent, but few stood out for me. The full-length animated films dealt with similar themes, and lacked fresh storylines.In my own opinion, judging in the Japan Media Arts Festival must draw out differences with other anima- tion competitions. The works that won Grand Prizes this year were the type that are experienced as empty spaces, and I find it intriguing that works that did not emphasize story won.
  • YOKOTA Masao
    MD and Ph.D., Professor, Nihon University
    Depictions of the Vicissitudes of Life and Emotional Connection in Animation
    While short animated films in this year's Japan Media Arts Festival depicted the various difficulties of life, long-form works featured vivacious female characters spreading cheer to others.Grand Prize in the Animation Division was awarded to the short work La Chute. The way the work unfolds in looping form presents symbolic representations of life and death, heaven and hell, human activity in whole; and this was something seen in other works as well: human activity expressed in looping form. In Circuit, for example, disparate events form a series, and that series serves to express their recursive nature. WATER IN THE CUP, a Japanese work, also depicts internal recursion that stems from drinking the water. In contrast to works from overseas which depicted series of external events, this Japanese work was singular in its inward focus.Such qualitative difference between works from Ja- pan and overseas was seen in other aspects as well; in their depiction of difficult experiences, for example. Carlotta's Face depicts the hardship a disabled child unable to recognize other people's faces meets with, such as bullying and lack of teachers' understanding. The work gives a real sense of the absurdity involved with lack of facial recognition in interpersonal relation- ships. In the New Face Award-winning Am I a Wolf?, a boy who dresses as a wolf to terrify a little goat in a play feels as if he actually is a wolf. The quality of interper- sonal relationships depicted in these two works reveals aspects of inscrutability from the perspectives of oth- ers. In contrast, the works by Japanese artists took on a slightly different tone. In Life Ain't Gonna Lose, which deals with a child's allergies, the boy's parents and neighbors strive to tackle the issue. While not involving a medical condition exactly, the New Face Award-winning Invisible depicts a man whose body is not only invisible but also so light so that it floats up unless weighted. The work offers an abstract representation of how hurtful it is to be ignored by society with such an abnormal body form. Yet the course of action this invisible man takes is to aid a baby in a recklessly-driven stroller. It may not be fair to consider these two works representative of Ja- pan; still, the Japanese works can be said to emphasize the fact that helpful actions facilitate connection.The theme of forging emotional connection is also shown in the long-form works from Japan, and interest- ingly enough, not only between people. The Excellence Award-winning DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan shows a female Air Self-Defense Force pilot finding connection with a dragon, and in Okko's Inn, which similarly won an Excellence Award, a sixth-grade girl finds connection with a ghost. Though they may meet with adversity in the course of making these emotional connections, the protagonists never fall into conflict. In addition, Liz and the Blue Bird depicts the dissolution of connection between close friends, yet with conver- sation between their connection is easily restored. In short, the Japanese works seem to hold a premise that emotional connections will be forged. Interfamilial connection is taken up as well. In dealing not only with past family relationships but future ones as well, MIRAI suggests that individuals grow not with the help of past familial support alone, but future as well. Also, in I want to eat your pancreas, which depicts an adolescent boy- girl relationship, a mother offers her emotional support to the young couple with nonchalance.In contrast to these Japanese works, the heroine in the Excellence Award-winning The Girl Without Hands has her relationships with father and husband severed at the hand of the Devil to finally connect with her hus- band following potentially deadly hardship. Here it was miraculous for this connection to be made, even in a spousal relationship. This sort of difficulty in finding emotional connection stands in unique contrast to the Japanese works where connections develop right away.