© Takafumi Takada / Kodansha, Legend of The Millennium Dragon Film Partners

15th Animation Division Excellence Award

Legend of the Millennium Dragon

Animated feature film [Japan]

KAWASAKI Hirotsugu (Director)


One day, Jun, an ordinary boy who has no outstanding talent, travels back in time over 1,000 years to the Heian era. This was a world in which there were battles between the aristocracy, or “humans,” who have acquired control of ancient Kyoto through the culture of continental Asia, and the people, or “demons,” who are used by the gods of nature, who have incompatible ideals. It depicts how Jun, who is baffled by the savage situation with which he has suddenly been confronted and tries to escape, meets various people from ancient times who live their lives in good faith, and grows as he learns the importance of thinking and acting for oneself. This is an epic animated historical drama that brings the ancient folklore of Japan to life in the present day, against the background of beautiful Kyoto.

Reason for Award

An historical drama set in Kyoto, bringing to life ancient legends
This is a tour de force. The effect animation and the scenes of crowds in which the director used as many cells as he wished are some of the highlights; it was the first work in some time to convey the tremendous joy of a theatrical animated feature. In this period of the ascendance of digital technology, we must acknowledge the spirit of an animator who confronts the creation of tremendous number cells head on. While the story is somewhat formulaic and the characters’ realization is solid but lacks novelty, this is a work that we hope that schools and public libraries will add to their collections. The Japanese-style designs that fill the work are carefully depicted; we hope that the work continues to succeed, and is shown overseas as well.