19th Animation Division Excellence Award
The Case of Hana & Alice
Animated feature film
IWAI Shunji [Japan]
This is the first feature-length animation from a director widely known for his live-action films. It was conceived immediately after he made the live-action film Hana and Alice (2004), and uses the same cast to tell the prologue to that film: How the characters ARAI Hana and ARISUGAWA Tetsuko (aka Alice) first met. Third-grader Alice transferred to a junior high school and hears a rumor that “Judas was killed by four other Judas in a third-grade classroom” a year ago. Alice gets acquainted with her neighbor, a fellow third-grader Hana who is a recluse living in the so-called Hanayashiki, a place that scares everyone. So begins the adventure of Alice and Hana as they attempt to solve the mystery of the “Judas”, the “world’s smallest murder case”. Combining rotoscoping, a technique where the animation is retraced over live-action footage, with a cell shaded 3D computer graphics technique that approaches to the texture of traditional animation made from cells, the film is a comical portrayal of the emotions of young girls living every small moment earnestly with agony and laughter.
Reason for Award
Made by supplanting the methodology of live-action film directly with a picture screen and then animating it, this is a film that really makes you consider the meaning of categories. Watching it, I was reminded of when long ago I saw Ralph BAKSHI’s animation film on J.R.R. TOLKIEN’s The Lord of the Rings (1978) and the peculiar, exciting reality that rotoscope animation produces. The vast amount of live-action footage was also superbly shot, leaving you with no doubt as to the talents of live-action director KANBE Chigi. Another element of the film’s success comes from its enchanting character design, while KUNO Yoko, who directed the rotoscope animation, displayed her excellent sense as always. The movement is deft and the script also adopts a good approach. The unique qualities of animation are revealed brilliantly and refreshingly. Since the degree to which you tweak characters exposes your sensibilities, I look forward to how the creative team will utilize what they learned from their experiences here for future projects. I was concerned that the sound was a bit faint, but overall this was a very enjoyable work indeed. (MORIMOTO Koji)