24th Animation Division New Face Award
The mark of Emi
Animated short film
The protagonist dreams. She dreams of her friend Emi. She touches Emi, who is small, soft, and warm. The protagonist wakes, races to school, and finds it’s a pool day for gym class. She’s forgotten her swimsuit at home, but Emi’s sitting out today’s class anyway, so she lends the protagonist her swimsuit. It’s too small, too tight. The entire story is illustrated in pencil, and the rough texture and strokes of red and pink lend the animation a gawky, endearing quality. But depictions of bodies, of touch, of water surrounding skin are intimate, and the series of events being delivered with the protagonist’s monologue imparts a palpable tension. The vivid emotions surrounding sexual awakening are illustrated in this sensuous work.
This highly personal short film embodies a private, special memory. So few are the lines and colors in this animation that to some viewers, it may look only like a storyboard. But this style serves the story, persuasively and realistically telling the artist’s account without leaning into graphic sexuality. It serves as an example: an animated film’s perfection is not in its density of detail, accuracy of shapes, or expansive color palette. What is illustrated here fully captures the film’s theme, gawky parts and all. I hope the artist continues to make films as truthful, masterful, and personal as this one. (OYAMA Kei)