Combustible Heats up Japan Media Arts Festival

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Hi No Yojin (Combustible)

Hi No Yojin (Combustible)

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.

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