Award-winning Works
Animation Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

Social Impact Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • MIZUSAKI Jumpei
    Animation Director / CEO, Kamikaze Douga
    Animation Takes Root without Having Been Sown
    I don’t usually watch a lot of animation, and I’m amazed at how many excellent submissions we received, even narrowed down to between 2019 and 2020. As an animation artist, I’ve been braced for a future in which the world is tapped of reserves and this art form reaches irrelevance, but having viewed so many entries filled with howls of the artists’ hearts and their ardent will to illustrate, I find myself relieved. I rest easy now knowing animation has the potential to sprout from soil anywhere in the world, that it may blossom into small and unique flowers or enormous trees that engulf their surroundings.
    The original Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is a powerful work, and YUASA’s ability as a director to express that story in animation increased the persuasiveness of the core message, thereby stirring interest in and enthusiasm for animation production to a wide audience. In MARONA’S FANTASTIC TALE, director Anca DAMIAN’s bold illustrations and inclusion of digital art demonstrate her flexibility in selecting the appropriate method of expression of what needs expressing. This flexibility transfers energy, which in a very positive sense smashed through the prescriptive tenets of how animation must be made. The director of Haze Haseru Haterumade, Waboku, took on a project scaled for one artist to express, from moment to moment, a high skill level at full throttle, naturally generating courage and motivation in younger generations of artists and causing a stir in the socially networked world.
    In these animated works in which I felt such a strong sense of presence, were high degrees of energy and enthusiasm. I have repeatedly witnessed this strange exchange where calories (energy) spent in a single cut in production reaches the hearts of audiences. In the past year, most of us have been so busy taking care of just ourselves that entertainment has become an afterthought. Even so, we are each free to exert our energy as we see fit. No matter what the future holds, I hope to support the use of that energy toward fueling and nourishing animation.
  • SUGAWA Akiko
    Professor, Institute of Urban Innovation Yokohama National University
    Sentiments, Speech, and Images That Resonate in the Digital Age
    In terms of creativity and production, the spread of the novel coronavirus made 2020 a taxing year. I would like to express my gratitude to those who submitted their works amid such hardship. Further, it was my great fortune to encounter such a wonderful array of works. In my critique last year, I mentioned the unique difficulty of judging a TV series, which tells a story over an extended period of time and different episodes of which may merit different feedback. This doesn't happen with feature films or animated shorts. That the animated series Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! won the Grand Prize this year is not only delightful for me to see, it's also groundbreaking. We've witnessed an increase in long-form animation distributed by Netflix and other platforms. Works like A Whisker Away and JAPAN SINKS : 2020 have ambitious, exciting stories, they are produced for a platform outside the framework of movies and TV series, and they come with subtitles in multiple languages for simultaneous international distribution. Animated works tailored for music videos released online are now on the rise, like the Social Impact Award-winning Haze Haseru Haterumade and the Jury Selection Mela! Viewers can enjoy these works comfortably on their smartphone screens, and I have high hopes for how such works develop on screens of size and mobility vastly different from movies and TV. We had an excellent array of female protagonists as well. Excellence Award-winning works Violet Evergarden: the Movie, A Whisker Away, and MARONA'S FANTASTIC TALE illustrate the difficulty of conveying one's feelings to loved ones and the importance of those feelings. The mark of Emi delicately depicts a girl in the throes of young, queer love, with her emotional turmoil impressively conveyed in the pencil drawings on screen. A fellow winner of the New Face Award, À la mer poussière uses felt dolls to convey a mother's sorrow and her children's loneliness to an almost frighteningly beautiful effect. All of them were worth watching twice.
  • SATO Tatsuo
    Animation Director and Scriptwriter
    Now,to the Future
    Throughout the year 2020, the rampant spread of the novel coronavirus halted production on TV animation and delayed film production, while greatly restricting the activities of creative individuals, groups, and organizations. This is apparent in the number of entries received this year, 399, compared to last year's 543. It's true 2019 yielded a significant number of works, but I suspect there were more than a few people this year who agonized over whether to pursue their projects and came out figuring it was best they didn't. The number of entries thus decreased, but there were a noticeable number of artists who submitted multiple entries or who chose this Media Arts Festival to present their film school graduation projects. But if multiple entries show similarities, even if they're standalone works, judges must exercise a great deal of caution to evaluate them fairly. In a similar sense, past jury members must have had difficulties assessing spin-off films of TV shows and animation. An episode with outstanding direction or illustration must be judged as an episode, not as a series. But the Animation Division of the Japan Media Arts Festival strives to judge such animated works on the same playing field as short and feature-length films and streamed works. The selection process, while trying, proved enjoyable. Here's what I think: Intriguing entries should be rewarded. What I mean by "intriguing" is not an authoritative prescription of what animation ought to be, but instead what's intriguing now. In particular, what are younger generations intrigued by now and what are they dreaming up for the future? This is especially important because we had many submissions in many genres. The final screenings were partially remote, which I think is why so many of our selections look toward the future. And then there's diversity. The New Face Awards this year covered a wide range of styles in that sense, and I hope they serve as indicators of the variety of works that can get recognized. The Social Impact Award was established last year to recognize works that had an effect on digital media and people's behavior. The creator of Haze Haseru Haterumade is among those who've received some buzz for their online content in recent years, but what the artist Waboku symbolizes is the droves of younger generations, the people of now, watching videos on their smartphones and competing for viewers. This year, we've selected three feature-length works and one animated short for the Excellence Award. We noticed the imbalance and hesitated for a moment, but some among us observed that ours isn't that kind of competition. So, we went with our gut and the original selection. Violet Evergarden: the Movie is a spin-off of the TV animation but beautifully holds its own and merited evaluation as a great standalone film. Conversely, our Grand Prize winner Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! was delightful because of its serial format, because it did what could only be done on TV and pushed those boundaries besides. It received the highest marks from all members of the jury and nobody contested the results. When it was released on January 6, 2020, much of the world hadn't yet caught on to the nightmare of the pandemic. Originally, we pegged it for the Social Impact Award, believing it would move viewers to aspire to work in animation. But the situation changed dramatically. That's exactly why I'd love for younger generations like the ones streaming their work online, like Haze Haseru Haterumade, and for generations after them to watch Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! What we want is for this year's Grand Prize and Social Impact Awards to serve as a message from this festival to the future of digital media. I was injured this year and had to press pause on my projects. These personal hurdles had me feeling down, but serving as a member of this jury has endowed me with renewed courage and reminded me what a positive force animation can be.
  • OHARA Hidekazu
    Animation Director and Animator
    Experience and Imagination
    When asked to participate as a member of the jury for the 24th Japan Media Arts Festival, I was unsure of being able to fulfill my responsibilities and pick and choose the winners. As I came into contact with the many submissions, however, I realized there was something familiar about the process, like it was something I'd done before--and I had, in bookstores, where I'd peeked into the minds of authors I'd never met or heard of and experienced their embodied intellect. And thereafter I'd experienced the joy of overcoming those apprehensions with curiosity and surprise. While screening primarily short-form animation, I found myself invited to experience these unknown worlds that, rather than falling into the trap of being only abbreviated versions of feature-length animation, aroused in viewers that essential ingredient: the imagination. They are condensations of their creators' thoughts, concentrates of creation on the verge of bursting. If you'll excuse the layperson's grasp on the topic, it's like Bach using a harpsichord, an instrument with fewer keys than today's pianos, to convey to those of us here and now a wider range of images than he could with an entire orchestra. I'm a working animator, so I screened submissions with an eye on stellar animation techniques, but I'm sad to say I couldn't nominate them all. You can make a hard nail soft, mobile, and alive with CG, for example, but you won't bring out its character, nor will it compete in a contest with technical excellence alone. I hope we make progress in the future by reaffirming the relationship between themes and animation techniques. Given its proximity to my profession, our Grand Prize winner, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! captured my attention when it aired. It isn't buried in animator inside jokes and instead evokes empathy from multitudes of creative people, expanding our imagination with what-ifs and all the questions that are so vital to animation, whether long- or short-form. I'm grateful to its director for allowing the audience to experience the creative process simultaneously with the characters. And last but not least, I wonder how this unprecedented disaster will affect the next round of submissions. I wonder what new perspectives the submissions will lead us to, and I hope this festival reflects the artists' intentions.