Japan Media Arts Festival Overseas Promotion


June 13-18(Festval), 14-17(Mifa)

The Annecy International Film Festival/Mifa (2022)


Outline of the festival

The Annecy International Animation Film Festival is one of the largest and most prestigious animation film festivals in the world. Along with the Mifa (Marché international du film d’animation, or The International Animation Film Market), a professional meeting place for the animation industry, it is held annually in Annecy, France.

For the past two years, participation was limited to online only due to the global pandemic. However this year, Japan Media Arts Festival Overseas Promotion project, supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan, will take part physically as an exhibitor at this world-renowned animation market, the Mifa, to showcase Japan Media Arts Festival’s award-winning animation works. We have also invited several Japanese animation creators to join us in Annecy.

Japan Media Arts Festival at Mifa

Inspired and Audacious: Women Creators in Japanese Animation
Presented by Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan

Director: OKAMOTO Mitsuko (Producer / Vice President, Tokyo University of the Arts / Professor, Department of Animation, Postgraduate School of Film and New Media, Tokyo University of the Arts)
Co-director: SEKI Hiromi (Producer, TOEI ANIMATION CO., LTD.), WAKAMI Arisa (Animation Artist/Associate Professor, Tokyo Zokei University)

Curatorial theme of the project

Inspired and Audacious: Women Creators in Japanese Animation
“Don’t worry. Because magic really does exist inside you.”
This is a line from the animated feature film Looking for Magical Doremi, spoken by the character Mire to her friends. The anime was created to commemorate twenty years since the television broadcast of Magical DoReMi, a series much loved by Japanese girls. The story follows three troubled women on a journey to recognize their individuality and potential, and to make a fresh start. To me, the words feel like a call to the audience from the anime’s production team.

This year’s Japan Media Arts Festival Overseas Exhibition has been curated with a focus on female directors and animators in Japan’s animation industry. Casting our eyes back to the early days of Japanese animation, NAKAMURA Kazuko joined Toei Doga (now Toei Animation) as part of the company’s first public recruitment in 1956 and worked in the studio of Japan’s first color feature-length anime The White Snake as an assistant to the director of animation. One after another, many outstanding female animators and staff followed in her footsteps; today, in an industry where directors have been predominantly men, talented female directors continue to emerge and release wonderful productions. Likewise, female producers and studio managers are also exhibiting their leadership through their support of productions from the ground up.

This year we are showcasing Japanese women involved in animation production—after a year of outstanding contributions particularly by female directors, animators, screenwriters and artistic directors of works including short films, feature films, and TV anime productions.

The lineup offers a total of nine works and 11 female creators, including: The Heike Story, a depiction of the truths of war from a unique perspective, reminiscent of the picture scroll of the same name; A Bite of Bone, a story that brings to light the tradition of eating the bones of the dead still practiced in rural Japan; an animated documentary about periods, contraception and pregnancy called I’m Late; and Yushi no Ko (“A Child of Yuu-shi”), gracefully drawn by animator ISSHIKI Azuru, who is still active in the industry at 73 years of age.

Some may ask, “Why women? Why now?” By choosing the theme of women, it is our hope that viewers will come to appreciate the abundant potential and individuality possessed by the women in our industry. We hope this will enable us to uncover new talent with different points of view and showcase a Japanese animation scene with diverse perspectives.

In addition, SEKI Hiromi, who has long been involved in producing anime at Toei Animation, and animated short film writer WAKAMI Arisa have joined us this year as co-directors. I believe their contributions have made this program even more diverse and captivating.

It is my sincere hope that you too will discover the “magic” emanated in many forms by women in Japanese animation.

Director, Animation Division
Japan Media Arts Festival Overseas Promotion

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Exhibition at Mifa Booth

The exhibition will feature a variety of Japanese female creators, all actively working vigorously to produce amazing animated works in Japan. We will show their works and artworks on an iPad and also their designs, artworks, storyboards and art materials to show how their works are made.
・Date:June 14th – 17th
・Venue:Mifa Booth No.B-23

Exhibited works and featured creators

Title A Bite of Bone
Featuring creators YANO Honami (Filmmaker)
Reviews The practice of honekami, where people eat the bones of cremated loved ones to overcome their grief, is still practiced in parts of regional Japan. The director created this animation based on a personal experience in her hometown, drawing on an indelible memory from her youth.
The animation, drawn entirely in pointillistic style, features various objects drawn from a child’s perspective—refreshing, wonderous, and sometimes odd. The colors beautifully draw you in, dancing like fragments of memories or particles of light that evoke the stirring of the heart. (WAKAMI Arisa)

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Title Looking for Magical Doremi
Featuring creators KAMATANI Haruka (Director / Storyboard Artist)
NAKAMURA Shoko(Animation Director / Costume Design Cooperation)
Reviews Set in modern-day Japan, three uniquely troubled girls in their twenties, born and raised in different places, are linked by a magical girl anime series they enjoyed in their youth. Sometimes intoxicated by scenery and delicious food and at other times quarrelling, this road movie details the girls’ pilgrimage as they learn compassion for others and affection for their families, and take a step closer to realizing their dreams. Haven’t you ever become friends with a stranger through a shared interest, such as a soccer team or musician?
This film is to help the “adult you” find your magic. (SEKI Hiromi)

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Title I’m Late
Featuring creators KABUKI Sawako (Animated Film Director / Illustrator)
Reviews This animation documentary comprises of interviews with various people about an event many women have experienced: a late menstrual period.
A swiftly drawn, metamorphosing rotoscoped animation about an everyday phenomenon that greatly impacts lives, it depicts people conflicted by a reality beyond romance and sexual desire. (WAKAMI Arisa)

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Title Blink in the Desert
Featuring creators SOEJIMA Shinobu (Animation Director / Sculptor)
Reviews A young hermit living alone in the desert kills a winged insect. From that moment on, he is followed by the shadows of winged insects as if tortured by a nightmare.
Emotions surrounding malice, guilt and prayer familiar to all of us, as well as a sense of breath, are palpable in this stop-motion animation film. Maximizing the potential of techniques including lighting and angles even appears to make the doll grow of its own volition, creating a subtle and unique world view. (WAKAMI Arisa)

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Title The Heike Story
Featuring creators YAMADA Naoko (Director)
YOSHIDA Reiko (Scriptwriter)
Reviews This film is based on the classic literary work The Tale of the Heike, written during a shift from aristocratic to samurai rule in 12th century Japan. The animation depicts “the impermanence of earthly things”: the Japanese view of life and death. It details a hidden Japan at a time of great transition, told through the left eye of a samurai who can see the dead and the right eye of a travelling storyteller’s daughter who can see the future.
Which would you choose—the left or right eye? Melding scenery from olden day Japan floating in the dark of night with Japanese views on life and death and the futility of war, this work will touch your heart like a tranquil Japanese painting. (SEKI Hiromi)

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Title Sonny Boy
Featuring creators FUJINO Mari (Art Director)
Reviews This animation tells the story of a group of students who are one day suddenly transported to another dimension; however, this is no conventional juvenile science fiction story. Philosophical rather than swashbuckling, this animation is filled with questions about people and the worlds that surround them. The simple characters and attention to artwork, reminiscent of brush-painted Poster Color works, truly encapsulate the world view that the director attempts to depict. This work will have you on the edge of your seat as you discover the profound mysteries that await the students, dealt blow after blow in this new world. (SEKI Hiromi)

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Title Anxious Body
Featuring creators MIZUSHIRI Yoriko (Film Director)
Reviews This film is a tactile and sensual depiction of the drama that occurs when different objects collide with one another. The objects are spun in distinctive colors, forms and tempos: soft, delicate and painful, yet soothing.
The sounds used amplify the senses and resonate with the animation, seemingly capturing and absorbing the audience into a sweet and foreign world from which there is no turning back. (WAKAMI Arisa)

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Title Pokémon Special Music Video 「GOTCHA!」
Featuring creators MATSUMOTO Rie (Film Director)
Reviews A quarter of a century since the franchise’s release, this Pokémon special music video is a collaborative work featuring successive generations of the Pokémon RPG series and song by rock band Bump of Chicken. Affection for these beloved creatures pours out from a screen that appears to pop; characters loved by the former children, alongside a montage of the same boys and girls growing up, make appearances amid the intricately layered background art. We invite you to take in director MATSUMOTO Rie’s sense of color, attention to cinematography and short yet rich narrative. (SEKI Hiromi)

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Title Yushi no Ko (“A Child of Yushi“)
Featuring creators ISSHIKI Azuru (Animation Artist / Animator)
Reviews This film is part of the omnibus Hole: The Ten Hole Stories by the self-proclaimed ‘world’s oldest animator group’ G9+1. The work features an adorable girl who emerges from a hole frolicking and carefree, occasionally giving the audience a glimpse of her adult form.
Comprising of simple, relaxed linework in colored pencil on paper, this short is graceful and full of a sense of joie de vivre, as though the girl’s playfulness breaks free from the frame that contains it. (WAKAMI Arisa)

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Market Screening at Mifa

JMAF screening “Inspired and Audacious: Women Creators in Japanese Animation”

The program showcases nine works, from distinctive short films, heartwarming feature films, and innovative TV animations to energetic music videos, all created by inspiring and audacious women creators in Japan. We have compiled their works into a single collection of female creators making waves in Japan, including Award-winning works at the Japan Media Arts Festival.
The Heike Story describes the glory and decline of a samurai clan. A Bite of Bone shares the ritual of biting bones after cremation. I’m Late, a piece showing how missing periods can bring out all sorts of emotions in people. Looking for Magical Doremi, a film based on the beloved girls’ anime series.
Enjoy the beautiful, adventurous, quirky, bold, relatable, and diverse world in their works.
Look forward to the Q&A session with the curators of this program after the screening.

Date and Time June 16th, 6pm-7:30pm
Venue Imperial Palace – Berlioz room
Moderator OKAMOTO Mitsuko (Director, Japan Media Arts Festival Overseas Promotion)

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Mifa Campus

Female Creators Thinking Outside the Box to Change the Future of Anime

SEKI Hiromi, producer of the Magical DoReMi and Pretty Cure series, and KAMATANI Haruka, director of the film Looking for Magical Doremi, will discuss how to embrace the diversity of creators. In recent years, an increasing number of female creators have been producing animated works in various genres with an emphasis on narrative. The two speakers will talk about how these creative works are made and the key aspects of women’s power in animation. The future of anime depends on the diversity of creators.
Don’t miss this Q&A session!

Date and Time June 17th, 10:45am-12pm
Venue Imperial Palace – Salon Imperial
Guest speakers SEKI Hiromi (Producer, Toei Animation Co., Ltd.)
KAMATANI Haruka (Director, Toei Animation Co., Ltd.)
Moderator OKAMOTO Mitsuko (Director, Japan Media Arts Festival Overseas Promotion)

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