Award-winning Works
Entertainment Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

Social Impact Award

New Face Award

U-18 Award

Jury Selections


    Depth of the “Jury Issue”
    This was my first time serving as a jury member. Being a novice and still in training, I hesitated to be on the jury. However, I decided to join since it is said that women tend to underestimate themselves, and I, as a female artist, had been interested in the jury issue, in particular the gender balance, in the past few years. The judging process was extremely hard. Partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, my patience was tested especially with the lengthy video works and the larger quantity than in the past. I wondered why I was judging the Entertainment Division to begin with. The high-quality contemporary art and documentaries submitted to the Entertainment Division made me contemplate what constitutes "quality entertainment in Media Arts," and I am still eager to discuss this with many people. Nevertheless, there were many works that I recommended with confidence. Replacements is a contemporary-art-like work, carefully made of hand-drawn-style VR animation. The viewers experience conservative beliefs and capitalism that slowly but heavily loom over the seemingly peaceful everyday life, as well as how globalization transforms our lives and landscapes. Personally, I enjoyed ON-GAKU: OUR SOUND as entertainment. The animation is impressively entertaining and skillful, and most of all, I was filled with admiration for the artist's guts to create an animation film all on his own. My other favorite is Jury Selection, BestFriends.com, which cleverly associates the Zoom screen composition with a science fiction idea, has good acting, and is interesting as a drama. My idea of a good jury member is someone who digs up hidden quality works and introduces them to the world, but I wonder if I properly did so. There may be some excellent works that were overlooked. Since I am an unprolific artist myself, I know the necessity of closely examining individual works, but it requires knowledge of previous works across various genres and knowledge of the world in general. I hope that more women and social minorities will join the jury next year.
  • TOKITA Takashi
    Producer and Game Creator, Square Enix Co., Ltd.
    Toward the Digital Version of the Cambrian Explosion
    I served as a jury member for the Entertainment Division for the second year running. I knew nothing about what to expect when I saw many ambitious works last year, but this year I was thinking I would be able to be more relaxed when facing the works. Then, the coronavirus pandemic struck the world unexpectedly. The 24th Japan Media Arts Festival was held when the use of new terms such as the declaration of a state of emergency, lockdown, and new normal became routine. Negative effects on submissions were a concern, but there turned out to be more total submissions than last year, showing a slight increase from 3,566 to 3,693. Specifically, the Entertainment Division saw an astounding increase from 390 last year to 626. Together with the Manga Division, which increased from 666 to 792, it supplemented the decrease in other Divisions. Staying home, remote working, and side jobs have been promoted, and digitalization and the network environment have become necessary and in demand. I believe that these circumstances propelled the human instinct to seek the essence of entertainment for having fun, creating works, and entertaining others, resulting in the larger number of submissions. In the last year's Jury Critiques, I stated that the boundaries of categories had become almost nonexistent amid accelerating digitalization in recent years. I see explosive activities of the digital creative generation, surprisingly during this coronavirus pandemic. The Cambrian Explosion was the emergence of the current animal phyla in the Cambrian period. We are now in a period of explosive expansion and growth of digital creativity comparable to that. In Japan, new generations of creative fields emerged including film, TV, manga, animation, and games, following the tradition of ukiyo-e and kabuki. Now the subsequent field has passed its embryonic stage, and the creators' activities in the field are finally taking root as a new form of entertainment. Evolution takes place in times of crisis. The new entertainment is beginning to open up the future of culture and art beyond genres, generations, countries, and races.
    Writer and Story Critic
    If an Artistic Expression That Opens Up This Era Exists
    In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, I was strongly attracted to works in which the performers confronted reality. The work of the Grand Prize-winner GEKIDAN NOMEETS (HIROYA Yuki, Representive) was a prime example of this. Specifically, the work (as well as the name of the theater company) demonstrated increasing momentum in a recently popularized attempt to perform theater plays online. Even if the works did not intentionally use expressions with this context in mind, I often found myself looking at the works in this context, which gave me a strange feeling. There were many VR works to evaluate in the Entertainment Division in particular, such as Replacements and Canaria, so it was almost inevitable for me to consider the contemporary theme of interacting with people in reality. In the same sense, the Social Impact Award-winner AVATAR ROBOT CAFE was interesting, because it contained another contemporary theme of communicating with others, in addition to its excellent concept of supporting the employment of people who have difficulty going out. Needless to say, the work itself encompassed a potential to begin with. In other words, the expression in the work was derived from a critical perspective of what our reality potentially holds. Under the circumstances, it was great to see many works that resulted in gaining such awareness. The large number of entries from overseas was also impressive. It is unclear if it was because the world was in the midst of a global incident, but it was great that artists were aiming for global activities, even though the world under lockdown was being divided. In particular, I was pleased to see high-quality works from many different countries in the field of video games, which is my personal interest, such as New Face Award-winner Umurangi Generation. As for the overall trend of the Division, how artistic expressions that are forced to be divided maintain or regain contact with society through the use of technology was particularly impressive.
  • KAWADA Tom
    AR3Bros.(Three Brothers of Augmented Reality)
    Entertainment Solves Problems
    I am writing this article a few days before the second declaration of the state of emergency. The tension is naturally rising. I have no intention to stock up on face masks and toilet paper. No other situation has encouraged people to stay home as much as now. I am thinking of buying a new bookshelf to reacquaint myself with more works. There is still no scientific evidence that Media Arts can be a quick remedy for the novel coronavirus. Whether or not art and performing arts are essential and urgent is always questioned, and those who engage in them seek the next way to live while constantly being asked about the necessity of artistic expression itself. Entertainment unconditionally relaxes the exhausted and hardened minds of people. Despite the ambivalence about the arts and entertainment, creators attempt to produce new works and face the audience. This is very encouraging. Among them, GEKIDAN NOMEETS swiftly integrated the vibe of their work into the timeline, while many other performers were lagging behind. It created a new economic circle even before the national compensation for cultural activities was established. This is a great achievement. The depth of this brand-new approach only increases as the performances accumulate. The Grand Prize winner, ON-GAKU: OUR SOUND, was unanimously selected by the jury, even though it was produced before the coronavirus pandemic. Each jury member may have valued different aspects of the work. I felt proud that an animation created using the classic rotoscoping technique won the Grand Prize in the Entertainment Division of the Japan Media Arts Festival today--an era with abundant techniques and technologies. I highly recommend watching it if you haven't yet. You will surely encounter new sounds that you have never heard before. As for RakugakiAR, I highly regarded how it brightens up people's lives while staying home, in addition to its quality. As the name suggests, rough freehand drawings are given life and start moving in augmented reality. A manga artist used it to successfully build a new relationship with the readers. AVATAR ROBOT CAFE is a socially implemented work that provided social roles to people with severe disabilities such as ALS patients, and people who have difficulty going out for various reasons. Communications with customers at the physically distant café were enabled by sensing slight movements of their functioning body parts. One of the participating ALS patients commented that she was moved by the fact that she was able to help others. 0107 - b moll has a modern vibe with a cool urban ambience and commuter trains moving in certain directions. The economy quietly moves on despite the coronavirus pandemic, and the work contains beautiful strings of lights along the ground that exist even before dawn. I found excellent taste in UNREAL LIFE, as it uses the unique expression of pixel art as a guide to a different world, instead of a nostalgic approach. Canari is a visual experience that can only be achieved in VR. By synchronizing the placement of each track with the viewer's perspective, it will eventually gain even more depth. All works were attempts to newly establish a sense of density that is being lost in the real world. From the Entertainment Division, SAKUMA Akira was nominated for the Special Achievement Award. He planned and created from scratch Momotaro Dentetsu (Momotaro Electric Railway), in 1988, and its new series has also been well received. Since that time, his design has been taking into account not only what happens within the screen, but also how the game content will affect the outside of the screen, i.e., reality. Whenever I encounter many excellent works as a jury member, I wonder if we can solve social problems by utilizing the sensibilities of Media Arts. The more serious the problem is, the more I feel responsible that entertainment should provide a solution. My term as a jury member ends this year. I will be involved in arts and performing arts as an artist or a consumer. I will expand Media Arts in a direction that is not confused by the term "non-essential and non-urgent."