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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