Award-winning Works
Entertainment Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

Social Impact Award

New Face Award

U-18 Award

Jury Selections


  • KAWADA Tom
    AR3Bros.(Three Brothers of Augmented Reality)
    Innovation in Content over Technological Breakthrough
    Last year, I pointed out that we were long past the season of enjoying technology for technology's sake. As a new era in Japan began in 2019, what has become even more noticeable is the greater enrichment of the content side of technology. I feel that, rather than aiming for major discoveries or inventions in hardware, we are being asked to find the best ways, through a combination of existing technologies and social conditions, to make an innovative impact while retaining visual aesthetics. The Grand Prize-winner Shadows as Athletes is a beautiful video that focuses on shadows that have apparently remained in existence since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The dynamic movement of athletes competing to win can at times highlight their agility more than just provide an overview of the athletes' physicality. This video deals more with content discovery than technological invention, as a sense of wonder is derived from a world of inverted light and shadow. This one is a hands-down winner. The Excellence Award winners New Logos Order and SEKIRO: SHADOWS DIE TWICE, through their somewhat more grotesque character, may not have been acceptable forms of entertainment a few years ago. I felt, however, that their approach was quite contemporary. Among the multiple submissions of work that involved AI, Ogiri AI and ChiharaEngineer was most striking. The AI of the work, that once appeared in a particular music TV show, had mixed reactions and the dividing line rested on questions of whether or not we wanted to create new songs even after the singer's death, whether or not we have any messages we want to communicate to future generations' use of new technologies, and whether or not there is someone on whom we can rely for script and direction. Verifying the intention of someone providing the teaching materials required for specific skill building while they are still alive becomes crucial. Creators must keep in mind that media art is consistently accompanied by delicate issues for which rules have not yet been formulated. The witty nature of Buddience, which analyzes Buddha statues deified in contemporary times in a lighthearted way, like paying a whimsical visit with friends to a fortune-teller, is brilliant. It leads us to wonder, do we want to take something that's light and make it heavy, or vise-versa? In the content creation phase, one needs to think through the subject matter and direction with this in mind.
  • SAITO Seiichi
    Creative Director and CEO, Rhizomatiks Co., Ltd.
    A New Stratum for Entertainment
    Today, while major changes occur in a variety of fields, geological indications tell us that we have entered the Anthropocene era. It is argued that in the approximately 4.6 billion years of the earth's history, the human era began developing as a new geological layer. As humans created various tools of their own concoction, they went on to create a wide range of civilizations, cultures, and customs. The field of media expression and entertainment has perhaps also entered a new phase in recent years. At the beginning of the 20th century, a wave of innovation came about. The internet has now become commonplace and we are about to implement a 5G network. Devices have followed Moore's Law and become smaller, bringing dynamic changes to our everyday life and environment. In the field of creative expression, in particular, cheaper prices of technology devices and the sharing of a wide range of expertise have given many people the option of becoming artists. The era of impressing others through use of the latest technologies has ended, and now our work is evaluated for the nature and meaning of its content, as well as whether or not that content is implemented in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Today, the issue is no longer just about technology, but rather, how we sort and choose among the many, easily accessible tools, and also what our intention and philosophy is for maximizing the use of such tools. As a result, I believe we have arrived at a time when we must do away with the evaluation criteria that tells us, "digital is new, analog is old." This is perhaps best symbolized by Shadows as Athletes, the Entertainment Division's Grand Prize-winner. While perspective-shifting discoveries and their resulting aesthetics are analog, these are also new discoveries. As children, many of us may suddenly have noticed how beautiful shadows were. I felt that the mindful manner of the video's creation has helped us to remember some minutiae that had somehow been forgotten. For Ogiri AI and Chihara-Engineer, which received the Excellence Award, AI is the key component. Rather than something complex, however, it is presented as entertainment that anyone can enjoy. Entertainment is often said to be a potential tool to provide an entry point for issues that are difficult to understand. The way in which this work uses intricate and sophisticated technology to take its expression to the level of comedy, which entails delicate nuances that are difficult to express, makes it worthy of this award. New Logos Order also created an unusual space made possible only through entertainment and content that captivated the fans, not only through their own participation but also by weaving a satirical contemporary story. The Entertainment Division involves a variety of other work selected from a wide range of categories including games, videos, websites, and services. I felt that it has expanded beyond the realm of mere entertainment that provides fun to one that indicates the true meaning of what it means "to entertain." There are many problems in our society today. We look to entertainment to help us forget these issues as well as contemplate and experience them, and these points in fact can all coexist according to the times. Various media are starting to redefine their respective role as they make their content accessible to everyone, regardless of their age, gender, or level of literacy. Today, at a time when we see new media content and ideas being born every day, the Japan Media Arts Festival brings this into view and, by reviewing the recent past, gives examples of what areas have developed and in what ways, thereby providing an incentive to learn what society today is seeking. Just as it occurs in the widely ranging discussions held among the judges, if others gave even a little thought to things like how media content is being created and why it is that they are seeing it today, they would likely understand the multifaceted appeal of entertainment media. Today, as programming and design are becoming incorporated into school curricula in Japan, there might come a time when we all will be playing a role in creating such media content. It is my hope that this festival will serve as a catalyst for people to enjoy these creations that are packed with so much power
  • TOKITA Takashi
    Producer and Game Creator, Square Enix Co., Ltd.
    Now is the Time to Create Space to Attract Culture and Creativity that Celebrate Diversity
    I have taken part in the Japan Media Arts Festival's award ceremonies and award-winners' exhibitions in the past. While serving as a judge this year, however, I once again pondered the question, "What is culture? Or media? And art?" I am of the generation that grew up with manga and animation and so began creating video games. My early childhood was a time when manga became all the rage and many new manga magazines were launched. Subsequently, various animation series hit the screens on television and in film. Simultaneously, digital games moved from arcades to online, to PC's, home video consoles, and cell phones, among other portable devices. As technology evolved, media content became diversified as we entered current times. When we take a look back at all artistic genres, including literature, drama and video, we can imagine how ever-evolving media, like video games, are inherited by new generations who, along with new technologies of the time, develop them as innovative forms of entertainment and industry. I believe we can say that kabuki and ukiyo-e, in particular, are direct origins of manga, animation, and Japanese RPGs. Thanks to the dissemination of the internet, today we are able to share knowledge, technology, and tools as well as the creative know-how and outlets for showcasing work, regardless of region or culture. In this year's jury process, as well, I saw a large number of very distinctive works from around the world. When knowledge and technology are shared, individuality is what becomes important. Contrasting issues, such as diversity vs. individuality, global vs. local, colorful vs. monochromatic, as well as digital vs. analog, all merge to give birth to new ideas, technologies, and original works. Particularly in the categories of video games and web applications, their boundaries have become almost nonexistent. In the coming years, we will see these borders disappear at a faster pace in all areas. I believe that the space lying beyond current categories is indeed the arena that will attract new modes of entertainment. In this year's jury process, I was able to get a full sense of the pulse of entertainment for the new generation that exceeds our genres and cultures. I would like to renew my belief that Japan has an inviting culture that can accept diversity and evolve.
  • NAKAGAWA Daichi
    Critic, Editor
    How Entertainment Will Contend with Post2020 Dystopia
    The neo-Tokyo of 2019 that OTOMO Katsuhiro once depicted in AKIRA was an end-of-days utopia that, after a violent storm of artificial energy abruptly burns everything to the ground, concludes with an upbeat premonition of Japan rebuilding itself from the chaotic rubble. In contrast, the real 2019 that we experienced, as echoed in Weathering With You by SHINKAI Makoto, is what we might call reactionary dystopia. It is one in which layers of natural disasters and a build-up of supposedly inconsequential human errors slowly corrode our daily lives, while nostalgia and an obsession with our successes in the past century disintegrate our social environment like a slow strangulation. In 2020, the world changed dramatically due to the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic, but an unsettling cultural tone has remained unchanged. Looking back at the situation in 2019 again, one blatant sign that I, as a concerned party, could not overlook was none other than the controversy over an exhibited work at that summer's Aichi Triennale. The premature dissemination of the internet media that was supposed to empower communication and the creative process has now turned into peer pressure to intimidate any representation of those who are considered undesirable. As if to kowtow to the current of viral public opinion by applying post-censorship, the Agency for Cultural Affairs disgracefully withdrew its grant to the Aichi Triennale in September based on some inexplicable rationale. Fearing that this was a bad move that could seriously damage the branding of the Japan Media Arts Festival, which was in the process of accepting submissions at the time, I sent a written request urging reconsideration to MIYATA Ryohei, Commissioner for Cultural Affairs, and HAGIUDA Koichi, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The above incident was course-corrected later in March, 2020 through negotiation with the Aichi Prefecture, the applicant party, resulting in their decision to issue a grant of a reduced amount. I would like to reiterate my grievance, however, since this has bred mistrust in Japan's cultural administration. I do this because in my third and final year serving as a jury member at the Japan Media Arts Festival, I had no choice but to consider, as priority over anything else, how best torectify the serious damage caused by the mess that the Agency for Cultural Affairs created to only minimally help recover our cultural landscape. As such, since among the award candidates this year there were no clear attention-grabbing works like SHIN GODZILLA and Pokémon GO from the 20th Japan Media Arts Festival, or Chico Will Scold You! and TikTok from the 22nd, I pushed hard for New Logos Order. This work's world view exposes a speech dystopia, based on mutual censorship brought about by social media, that is directly satirized through short fictional stories recited in between musical numbers. The audience is simulated and becomes a fictional "resistance movement against censorship" through the use of a smartphone app. Giving the top honor to this worldview, I felt, would be the least we could do to send out a message of self-correction in response to the Aichi Triennale incident. Due to my inadequacies, however, I was unable to get others to agree with my assertions. Shadows as Athletes, the only work among the main candidates that aligned with the momentum of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with its beautiful videography that discovers a low-context, minimalistic viewpoint, collected many of the jury members' votes and won the Grand Prize. After the rebuff of my efforts to prevent Chico Will Scold You! from winning last year, this is the second consecutive year to be defeated as a lone proponent, and it was quite disappointing. If I were to allow my disappointment to push me to further elaborate, this year's prize may have signified that in this year 2020, the descendants of George Orwell and Leni Riefenstahl were really the two competing finalists, and we allowed ourselves to choose the latter only at the very end (And just how ironic is it that the 2020 Olympics ended up becoming an actual "shadow"?). On the other hand, the first-ever Social Impact Award went to Free Transport nommoc, which shoots a hole through the transportation experience madness by way of hacking the relationship between cities and advertisements. This is truly important as we look ahead to the future of entertainment. In the 21st Japan Media Arts Festival Jury Critiques, I discussed the effect of entertainment "blending into everyday life." This is because in the nommoc service, like in many works in the Jury's Selections, we can catch glimpses of a future path of entertainment in which its role to "reshape reality itself" will continue to strengthen. Will this all serve as a war against being obliterated, or invite further expansion of dystopia? As we reanalyze the true nature of humans as players, now when the unbelievable neo-Tokyo Olympics cancellation prediction became a reality, it was with the most unexpected delight that we were able to select YAMASHIRO Shoji, a man who has led Geinoh Yamashirogumi to continue his "active criticism of civilization" for almost half a century, for the Special Achievement Award.
    Communication Director, Art Director
    Bringing Meaning and Value to Our Era
    This is my first time participating as a jury member. I normally create designs and commercials for social impact, and it was from that perspective that I carefully observed and experienced these works. While they all differed in genre, message, and material, I was guided by whether or not they had the power to move people. The jury members were all like ferocious beasts of contrastingly different genres, with extremely varied opinions and tastes that lead to an intensely heated and dynamic jury session. The one thing we did have in common was what we all considered most passionately: the question of what it means for something to be new, and the meaning and value it brings to this age. A work may appear to have a new approach yet somehow be lackluster in its direction; conversely, another may contain very analog and nostalgic elements yet have a new perspective. Ultimately, I believe, the ones that moved us were those with a level of enticement and appeal that didn't disregard the viewers' emotions. What I would like to personally request, regarding visually appealing elements in the media, is that they exude a warmth that can make cheeks glow, that they have a strong message that speaks a truth that no one has been able to express, and that they convey new perspectives that let us rediscover enchantment in this world, showing us that greater beauty awaits us in the future. At the same time, such appealing aspects must be fully embodied with a high level of quality. Indeed, even in a world of close connections, high standards are essential. I believe all of this year's award-winning works were ultimately destined to triumph. It is my wish that they will, in turn, lead us to even more new creations.
    Communication Director, Art Director
    Is Media Arts Non-essential and Non-urgent?
    This year's judging was highly unusual. The coronavirus pandemic made us ponder if Media Arts is non-essential and non-urgent. There were actually many works that were influenced by the pandemic, in both good and bad ways. Many were noble-minded as they encompassed a strong desire to move forward through the media, precisely because of the time when people cannot physically interact. A time like this probably caused the birth of something tactile, or something that fills our physical distances. The works were highly diverse. There was a work for helping others through Media Arts, and in contrast, there was also a high-quality artistic work that allows people to immerse themselves to the point of escaping reality in times like this, giving us high expectations for future possibilities. What I particularly esteemed was finding handiworks, which are so heartwarming that they make me forget the technical aspects. The Grand Prize winner, ON-GAKU: OUR SOUND, is a truly rocking work. Each piece was hand-drawn, requiring an enormous amount of time, love, and passion. It is able to shake people's hearts so much because it was elaborately handmade. All award-winning works involve the passions of creators and enthusiastic production processes. In this dramatically changing time, I hope what evolves first will be people. People need people. As long as the works keep company with people, exceed our power, and guide us, people will also need Media Arts. This year, along with the works, has become unforgettable.