Over the month of June 2019, the 22nd Japan Media Arts Festival was held across various venues on Odaiba Island in Tokyo. The main venue for the show was at the Miraikan, a museum that hosts exhibits dealing with many aspects of natural history such as the past and humanity’s impact on the earth. From June 1st to June 16th, the museum hosted the Japan Media Arts Festival, an annual showcase of award-winning works in Art, Entertainment, Animation and Manga. Despite the location for this show being in Tokyo, Japan, the composition of the works showcased is decidedly international, with over 100 countries contributing over 4,000 submissions for selection. While many people might associate “Media Arts” with contemporary works such as manga and television animation, visitors to this show can observe a wide array of works that truly expose the full range of what is art.
Manga is an enormous industry, with many of the finalist entries for this category coming from obscure origin. Two rooms in the exhibition had a small library for visitors to read manga and their own and be introduced to their qualities. Every genre, from romance to health and horror could be found in the list of finalists, but the winning entry was a science-fiction manga Origin. This manga spanning many volumes is written and drawn by Boichi, a South Korean author who may be better known to international audiences as the artist of the Shonen Jump manga Dr. Stone. Pictured is an exhibit for one of the winners of the “New Face” award, Metamorphose no Engawa, a charming story of an old woman and a teenager sharing an interest in romance manga. After looking at the many entries on display, you’ll understand why manga has such a wide appeal in Japan and across the world.
Animation is a widely-understood medium, with many of the finalist entries in this category belonging to mainstream works such as Hisone&Masotan and Mirai. But a number of entries are smaller-scale independent works created by artists from lesser-known parts of the animation world such as Iran and France. Finalist works also had display areas where production materials from the show such as modelsheets, character designs, and coloring process were displayed for public viewing. The animation to which the grand prize was awarded to La Chute, depicting a story in which celestial contact with Earth results in its population descending into a parade of madness. The festival allows the audience to extensively experience this works by holding multiple screening rooms for which visitors to evaluate the films for themselves.
Modern art has the potential to be simple in presentation or a staggering complex display within the room. The finalist entries observed at the festival present the viewer with many different sensations and feelings. Visitors could examine some art being applied to some of the smallest objects with Culturing Papercut, in which bacteria was cultured around pieces of scrap paper, and watage, exquisitely delicate combinations of dandelion seeds which you need to hold your breath around. The winning entry was Pulses, an installation of LED lights and sound emitters which combine to create a pattern that sounds almost organic. The viewer is exposed to Pulses in a dark room observing how the installation moves and flashes. Art may sometimes be difficult to understand or see, but it’s easy to appreciate the work put in by the artists into creating such works.
The Entertainment category was perhaps the most diverse category, as the winning entries stemmed from a variety of mediums both visual and technical. Entries ranged from computer applications to music videos and live experiences, showing how differently we can interpret entertainment. Runner-ups for the grand prize included LINNÉ LENS, a video application which is capable of real-time identification of animal species, and the social media application TikTok, which the judges praised as expanding accessibility to recording by allowing users easy to use recording and editing software. The grand prize was awarded to Chiko-chan Will Scold You!, a comedy program centered around the title mascot character Chiko as she berates and questions various guests to the show. The prime attraction for the program was the use of computer editing software to enhance and animate Chiko’s expressions to underline the show’s comedy. After viewing this category, you’ll definitely have a new outlook on how you view media around you.
Are you interested in learning more about different types of manga, or how entertainment is viewed by people? If so, the Japan Media Arts Festival exhibition is sure to be an informative trip for individuals interested in the arts. This festival is held annually in the summer, and is free to enter for patrons. The large array of creative works on exhibit will open up your mind to the possibility of the human spirit.The 2019 festival was held from 6.1 to 6.16, but you can inquire about the 2020 schedule on the Miraikan website.You can also learn more about the Media Arts Festival on their website.