22 February 2011

The Borrower Arrietty wins the Japanese Academy Prize for Animation of the Year

The Borrower Arrietty / Tokumashoten / Studio Ghibli

First time director Hiromasa Yonebayashi has won the Japanese Academy Prize for Animation of the Year at the Japanese Academy Awards for The Borrower Arrietty (2010). Yonebayashi worked his way up at Studio Ghibli from the role of inbetweener on films like  Princess Mononoke (1997) to doing key animation on recent films like Ponyo (2008). I have not been lucky enough to see the film yet, but judging from the art in the book tie-in it will not disappoint. I can at least take solace in the fact that I live in Europe, where Arrietty will be released this year, rather than the States, where the release has been pushed back into 2012. No word yet on a Japanese DVD release date.

Other films nominated for the Animation of the Year included Colorful (Keiichi Hara, 2010) – which won the top animation prize at the Mainichi Film Concours, Doraemon The Movie: Nobita's Great Battle of the Mermaid King (Kōzō Kusuba, 2010), Detective Conan: The Lost Ship in the Sky (Yasuichiro Yamamoto, 2010), and One Piece Film: Strong World (Munehisa Sakai, 2010)

The Japanese Academy Awards have been given out annually since 1978. Despite the high output and quality of Japanese animation for many decades now, the Japanese Academy has only had an animation category for five years. Kiki’s Delivery Service (Hayao Miyazaki, 1989) and Pom Poko (Isao Takahata, 1994) were given special prizes in 1990 and 1995. The wildly popular Studio Ghibli films also managed to win the Academy’s top prize – taking Picture of the Year in 1998 for Princess Mononoke and again in 2002 for Spirited Away (2001).

The Japanese Academy Awards modeled themselves on the Hollywood Academy Awards, which has also only had an award for Best Animation Feature since 2001. They have, however, been honouring animated shorts since 1931 – I am sure this is largely due to the influence of Hollywood-based animation studios like Disney and Warner Bros.

Animation of the Year winners thus far:

2007  The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
時をかける少女/ Toki o Kakeru Shōjo
Mamoru Hosoda, Madhouse

2008  Tekkon Kinkreet
Tekkon Kinkreet / Animation
鉄コン筋クリート/ Tekkon Kinkurīto
Michael Arias, Studio 4°C

2009  Ponyo 
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea (English, French, Spanish etc..Audio/Subtitles) / Animation
崖の上のポニョ/ Gake no Ue no Ponyo
Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli

2010  Summer Wars
Summer Wars / Animation
サマーウォーズ/ Samā Wōzu
Mamoru Hosoda, Madhouse

2011  The Borrower Arrietty
借りぐらしのアリエッティ/ Karigurashi no Arietti
Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Studio Ghibli


18 February 2011

Mami Kosemura's Nihonga Moving Paintings (2004-2006)



In the autumn of 2006, I went to see the Nihonga Painting: Six Provacative Artists exhibition at the Yokohama Museum of Art.  Each artist was indeed provacative in his or her own way, from the horrifically beautiful paintings of Fuyuko Matsui to the crazed doodlings of Shiriagari Kotobuki.  

The installations that made the biggest impact on me were the 'moving paintings' of Mami Kosemura.  At the time, I could only describe my impression of her work but I have since discovered that Kosemura has uploaded low-res samples of her work onto the internet.  Although it is not as impactful to watch these 'moving paintings' via video-streaming as it is to see them in a gallery, it at least gives one an idea of what the  experience was like.  Before watching the videos, read my original post to understand their original context.  These stop motion animated shorts were not simply projected onto bare walls, but were projected onto specific spaces using furnishings that suggest a traditional Japanese house.

For the nature themed installations, Kosemura designed elaborate sets at her studio and shot the film frame-by-frame over a period of months.  For example, to create the third video below from the Flowering Plants of the Four Seasons series, Kosemura set up a 3 meter wide set and using a digital camera  shot a photo every hour for two months.  In the end, she had a total of 1,500 photos which she then edited to give them a painterly look.  This particular animation was projected onto a fusama for the Yokohama exhibition (see sample installation images at top of page).

Comb and Woman in the Mirror are also shot using a similar stop motion technique but  using actors and interior spaces.  These two installations are based on woodblock prints by Hashiguchi Goyo.  In addition to her work as an artist, Kosemura is a scholar of art history and her art is heavily influenced by her academic knowledge.  Read more about Comb and the techniques used in these installations in my review here.  To learn more about the Nihonga exhibition these works were a part of, see the links at the end of this post.

Flowering Plants of the Four Seasons (Shikigusabanazu, 2004-6)
 (3 videos)

Priming Water (Yobimizu, 2006)


Comb (Kushi, 2006)



Woman in the Mirror (Kyōdai no Onna, 2006)



To learn more about Kosemura, check out her homepage.


© Catherine Munroe Hotes 2011
Related Posts:
Nihonga 1: Fujii Rai
Nihonga 2: Matsui Fukuyo
Nihonga 3: Shiriagari Kotobuki
Nihonga 4: Nakamura Kengo
Nihonga 6: Nakagami Kiyoshi

12 February 2011

14th Japan Media Arts Festival


This is the final weekend to catch the 14th annual Japan Media Arts Festival in Tokyo with its 170 exciting exhibitions, screenings, and live performances. This year’s call for entries attracted 2,645 entries from 49 countries. The Grand Prize in animation went to Masaaki Yuasa (Mind Game, Genius Party, Kaiba) for the Madhouse TV anime series The Tatami Galaxy (四畳半神話大系/ Yojōhan Shinwa Taikei, 2010), which aired April 22 – July 1, 2010 on Fuji TV. The series was adapted from the novel of the same name by Tomihiko Morimi

This marks the first time that a television series has won the Grand Prize at JMAF. The jury described the series as “overflow[ing] with expressiveness” and being a rare television anime in the way that defies the commercial limitations that are usually put onto such works. They were particularly impressed by the carefully researched use of Kyoto as a setting and the stylistic distortions Yuasa gave the animated spaces and characters of the series.  Available on DVD from cdjapan.

Excellence Prizes in Animation were awarded to:


Keiichi Hira for his feature film Colorful (カラフル, 2010). Hira is best known for his Doraemon and Crayon Shin-chan films. His last feature, Summer Days with Coo ((河童のクゥと夏休み/ Kappa no Kwu to Natsuyasumi won the 11th Japan Media Arts Festival Grand Prize. Colorful was also awarded the Animation Award for 2010 at the Mainichi Film Concours last month. TrailerAvailable on DVD from cdjapan.

Sunao Katabuchi for his feature film Mai Mai Miracle (マイマイ新子と千年の魔法/Maimai Shinko to Sen-nen no Mahō, 2009). This is an adaptation of the biographical novel Mai Mai Shinko by Akutagawa Award-winning novelist Nobko Takagi. The animation was produced by Madhouse.  Check out the teaser trailer at Nippon Cinema. Available on DVD from cdjapan.



Hiroyasu Ishida for his hilarious short animation Fumiko’s Confession (フミコの告白).  Ishida will be screening his latest animated short next week at the Kyoto International Manga Museum. Read more about it and see a preview at the Animation News Network.


Atsushi Wada for his surreal short film In A Pig’s Eye (わからないブタ). The film also won the top prize at Fantoche last year. Read my interview with the artist: Art of the Absurd: An Interview with Atsushi Wada or check out my reviews of his films Day of Nose (2005) and Gentle Whistle, Bird and Stone (2005).  Available on DVD from CALF.


Korean-born, America-based animator Beomsik Shimbe Shim for his puppet animation The Wonder Hospital. This film has won recognition at festivals around the world including the Best Animated Short awards at the Los Angeles Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, and the San Diego Asian Film Festival. Check out a clip from the film, a trailer, and other cool footage on Shimbe’s Vimeo Profile.

You can learn more about the Japan Media Arts Festival and past winners at their website. Unfortunately, their English webpages have been down since the festival started so you may have to check back later in the month if you can’t read Japanese.

Related Posts:
13th Japan Media Arts Festival
Sovat Theater's Elemi (2009)
Masaaki Yuasa's Mind Game (2005)

11 February 2011

The Animation Award at the Mainichi Film Concours


For reasons that I have been so far unable to deduce, the 65th annual Mainichi Film Concours last month declined to award a Noburo Ofuji Award for 2010. This is certainly not for want of talent. There were many alternative animated films released last year that embody the original aim of the award: to promote innovation in animation. Atsushi Wada’s film In a Pig’s Eye has been winning acclaim both at home and abroad and Keita Kurosaka’s Midori-ko would also have been a worthy winner.  They could have also given long overdue recognition to the work of Keiichi Tanaami and Nobuhiro Aihara by awarding the Noburo Ofuji to their latest collaboration Hannya Shingyo.

On the other hand, the Animation Award (アニメーション映画賞) did at least go to an animated film with a unique look: Keiichi Hara’s Colorful (カラフル, 2010). This is Hara's third time winning the prize. He first won it in 2002 for Crayon Shin-chan: The Storm Called: The Battle of the Warring States.  He won it for a second time in 2007 for Summer Days with Coo.

The Animation Award (sometimes referred to in English as the Animation Grand Award – although the Japanese translates literally as the Animation Film Award) debuted in 1989, when it became apparent that the Noburo Ofuji Award was moving away from its roots in independent, alternative fare into the territory of mainstream anime. Hayao Miyazaki had just won the Noburo Ofuji for the fourth time with My Neighbour Totoro and it was looking like he was about to win again for Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989). The Mainichi Film Concours designed the Animation Award in order to honour feature film animation. The films that have won the award have usually been commercially successful but the main consideration is still the technical achievements of the animation.

Kiki’s Delivery Service did indeed win the Animation Award for 1989, but no Noburo Ofuji Award was given out that year. The Noburo Ofuji Award was also skipped in 1992, 1994, and 1997 – all years in which Studio Ghibli films won the Animation Award. In an interesting twist in 2001, Miyazaki won both the Noburo Ofuji for his short film The Whale Hunt, and the grand prize for Spirited Away. In 2008, Miyazaki again won the Noburo Ofuji for Ponyo, while the grand prize was awarded to The Sky Crawlers

Here are the winners of the Mainichi Concours's Animation Award:

1989 Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli
 Kiki's Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便/Majo no Takkyūbin, )

1990 Yasuo Maeda
Flight of the White Wolf 
(走れ!白いオオカミ/Hashire shiroi okami)

1991 Hiroyuki Kitakubo

1992 Hayao Miyazaki/ Studio Ghibli
 Porco Rosso (紅の豚/ Kurenai no Buta)

1993 Mamoru Oshii
(機動警察パトレイバー2/Kidō keisatsu patoreibā 2)

1994 Isao Takahata/Studio Ghibli
 Pom Poko (平成狸合戦ぽんぽこ/ Heisei Tanuki Gassen Ponpoko)

1995 Junichi Sato
Junkers Come Here (ユンカース・カム・ヒア)

1996 Osamu Dezaki/Fumihiro Yoshimura
 Black Jack (ブラック・ジャック)

1997 Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli
 Princess Mononoke (もののけ姫 /Mononoke Hime)

1998 Tsutomu Shibayama
 Doraemon: Nobita's South Sea Adventure 
(ドラえもんのび太の南海大冒険)

1999 Hiroyuki Okiura/Production I.G.
 Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (人狼/ Jinrō)

2000 Ayumu Watanabe
 Doraemon: Mother’s Memories 
(ドラえもん おばあちゃんの思い出/ Doraemon: Obā-san no Omoide)

2001 Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli
Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し/ Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi)

2002 Keiichi Hara
Crayon Shin-chan: The Storm Called: The Battle of the Warring States
(クレヨンしんちゃん 嵐を呼ぶアッパレ!戦国大合戦)

2003 Satoshi Kon/Madhouse
 Tokyo Godfathers (東京ゴッドファーザーズ)
Read Review

2004 Makoto Shinkai
 The Place Promised in Our Early Days
(雲のむこう、約束の場所/ Kumo no Mukō, Yakusoku no Basho)

2005 Seiji Mizushima/BONES
Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa
(劇場版 鋼の錬金術師 シャンバラを征く者)

2006 Mamoru Hosoda/Madhouse
(時をかける少女/ Toki o Kakeru Shōjo)

2007 Keiichi Hara
 Summer Days with Coo 
(河童のクゥと夏休み / Kappa no Kū to Natsuyasumi)
2008  Mamoru Oshii/Production I.G.
 The Sky Crawlers (スカイ•クロラ)

2009 Mamoru Hosoda/Madhouse
 Summer Wars (サマーウォーズ)

2010 Keiichi Hara
Colorful (カラフル)

Update February 2015: 

2011 Takashiro Omori
To the Forest of Firefly Lights(蛍火の杜へ)


2012 Mamoru Hosoda
Wolf Children (おおかみこどもの雨と雪)

2013 Isao Takahata

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語)

2014 Mizuho Nishikubo
Giovanni's Island (ジョバンニのしま)

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