22nd Animation Division Excellence Award

DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan

Animated TV series

HIGUCHI Shinji [Japan]


DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan is a 12-episode animated TV series about the adventures of Hisone Amakasu, a rookie in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force assigned for duty at Gifu Air Base, and Masotan, a dragon that transforms into a military plane. Hisone, Masotan, and their fellow troops, all characters of strong individuality, undergo extremely harsh training to prepare for Matsurigoto, a major national ritual. It is a heartwarming experience to observe the growing friendship between Hisone, who is conscious over the fact that her inability to lie often results in her hurting people, and Masotan, who is straightforward and honest but has a fear of strangers. The series is the result of the collaborative work of a creative team led by Director HIGUCHI Shinji of Shin Godzilla fame and OKADA Mari, who worked on the screenplay of Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day. At first glance, the drawings appear to be composed of roundish simple lines, but in fact the animation features numerous fascinating details dispersed throughout the story. For instance, the interior of Gifu Air Base, where the story unfolds, is conveyed with great precision based on information gathered at the actual base. Also, in the scenes in which the dragons transform into military planes, the gradual changes in their bodies are depicted with extreme attention to detail.
24 min. × 12 episodes

Reason for Award

DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan is a 100% original animation series that is not based on a manga or a game. The quirky personality of the protagonist strikes a nice balance with the somewhat plain character design. The animation-like dramatic development of the story blends well with the realistic depiction of the Self-Defense Force. The switch between reality and fantasy in the description of the flight scenes, including the switch from virtual reality to internal organs, is also successful. The structure of the plot, which makes the audience eagerly anticipate each coming episode, and the relationship between the animation and the reality of TV broadcasting are unique characteristics of this work as an animation series. The creative team has successfully managed to complete the series while maintaining a certain standard from the beginning to the end, and this fact alone deserves admiration. Naturally, the audience is not really interested in the efforts that the creators put into their work, their struggles within a limited time frame, or their ability to produce great animation despite an insufficient budget. The audience bases their judgement on the finished product alone, and this is the way it should be. Yet, there must be a good reason that enabled the creative team to complete the entire series without losing speed. There must have been a certain something that inspired the staff to work so hard. I would like to praise everyone who worked on this animation series. (KIFUNE Tokumitsu)