It was difficult for me to narrow this list down as I saw so many great animated shorts this year. Thanks to computer technology democratising animation production and the rise in animation courses at Japanese post-secondary institutions, there has been an explosion of new talent making waves in Japan.
Two trends in Japan that are apparent in my list are the growing numbers of women directing animation and overseas students coming to Japan to study and work. Women have long played an important role in animation as inbetweeners, writers, and film producers, but it is only in recent years that women have started to outnumber men in animation schools. Geidai (Tokyo University of the Arts) reports women outnumbering men in the two cohorts currently underway in their graduate programme. The minimal aesthetic of Yoriko Mizushiri has been a festival favourite in recent years and her latest film Snow Hut has been just as well received as Futon (2012, read review). Mari Miyazawa, of e-obento has brought her kawaii food aesthetic to stop motion animation in her delightful films Decorations and Twins in the Bakery.
Japanese animation schools have also been attracting students from overseas, particularly from China and South Korea. These young people grew up with Japanese animation on television and at the movies and see Japan as the ideal place to develop their skills as artists. Names to watch include Yangtong Zhu, Yewon Kim, and Hakhyun Kim.
The Portrait Studio (寫眞館, 2013)
Legend of the Forest, Part 2 (森の伝説 第二楽章, 2014)
My Milk Cup Cow (コップの中の子牛, 2014)
Kou Kou (こうこう, 2013)
Everyday Sins (日々の罪悪, 2014)
Fireworks * Beads (2013)
MAZE KING (2013)
It’s Time for Supper (夜ごはんの時刻, 2013)
Nara Arts Festival CM (奈良県大芸術祭プロモーション映像, 2014)
Snow Hut (かまくら, 2013)
The Hyuga episode of Kojiki (古事記 日向篇, 2013)
Rhizome (リゾーム, 2013)
Blue Eyes - in Harbor Tale – (2014)
Celebration and Chorale (祝典とコラール, 2013)
Decorations (デコレーションズ, 2014)
A Reflection of One’s Mind (2014)
Mirai Mizue and Yukie Nakauchi
Cathy Munroe Hotes 2014