Katsuhiro Ohiro’s short film Hi No Yôjin (Combustible) has won the Grand Prize in the Animation Division of the 16th Japan Media Arts Festival, organizers announced Thursday.
Set in mid-18th century Edo (the old name for Tokyo), Combustible centers on Owaka, a merchant’s daughter, and her childhood friend Matsuyoshi. Though the two are attracted to each other, Matsuyoshi’s family has disowned him, forcing him to make a living as a fireman. But just as their relationship is starting to bloom, Owaka’s family begins to move forward with plans to find her a husband. Unable to forget Matsuyoshi, in a fit of crazed passion, Owaka causes a huge fire to break out, burning down the town. The two lovers happen to cross paths again in the midst of this blaze.
The backdrop for this spectacle is one of the great fires that frequently occurred in the metropolis of Edo. Using traditional Nihonga (Japanese-style) paintings as a motif for the animated images, the work meticulously recreates the manners, implements, and lifestyle of Tokyoites some 300 years ago. In addition, by combining hand-drawn animation with 3D computer graphics, the creators have sought to develop an innovative form of expression through moving images.
Excellence Awards were given to the animated feature films Asura (George Akiyama and Keiichi Sato; Asura Film Partners), The Life of Budori Gusuko (Gisaburo Sugii; The Movie Committee) and Wolf Children (Mamoru Hosoda; “Wolf Children” Film Partners), as well as the short film The Great Rabbit (Atsushi Wada; Sacrebleu Productions/CaRTe bLaNChe).
New Face Awards were given to the short film Futon (Yoriko Mizushiri), the TV animation Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (Sayo Yamamoto; Monkey Punch/TMS Entertainment Co., Ltd. and the Belgian short Oh Willy… (Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels).
The following were jury selections in the Animation Division. All are from Japan unless otherwise specified:
Feature films: Afterschool Midnighters (Hitoshi Takekiyo), Berserk Golden Age Arc II: The Doldrey War (Toshiyuki Kubooka), Friends Naki on Monster Island (Ryuichi Yagi and Takashi Yamazaki), FUSE -Memoirs of the Hunter Girl (Masayuki Miyaji), Rainbow Fireflies (Konosuke Uda)
Short films: awaiting (Hakhyun Kim; South Korea), crazy for it (Yutaro Kubo), Deposit of Sentiment (Saori Suzuki), Grain Coupon (Xi Chen; China), Harbor Tale (Yuichi Ito), I am alone, walking on the straightroad (Masanori Okamoto), I’m also a bear (Tsuneo Goda), KiyaKiya (Akino Kondoh), Love Games (Yumi Yound; South Korea), My socks (Ikuo Kato), New Tokyo Ondo (Misaki Uwabo), No Rain No Rainbow (Osamu Sakai), Nyosha (Liran Kapel and Yael Dekel; Israel), Possessions (Shuhei Morita), Recruit Rhapsody (Maho Yoshida), Sunset Flower Blooming (Yuanyuan Hu; China), The Sakuramoto broom workshop (Aya Tsugehata), The Sardine Tin (Louise-Marie Colon; Belgium), Yonalure: Moment to Moment (Ayaka Nakata and Yuki Sakitani), 108 prayer beads (Han Han Li; China)
TV animations: Carefree Fairies (gdgd-partners), Kids On the Slope (Shinichiro Watanabe), tsuritama (tsuritama partners)
The Japan Media Arts Festival honors works of excellence in a diverse range of media — from animation and
manga to games and media art. This year, a record number of 3,503 works were submitted for the festival, including 1,502 works from 71 countries and regions around the world. More applications had been submitted for this, the 16th festival, than in any year since its inception in 1997.
The Exhibition of Award-Winning Works will be held from February 13 to 24 at the National Art Center in Tokyo and other venues.