At the end of the festival taking place from the 12th to the 17th June in the French alpine town, the jury gave the most coveted prize, the Crystal, to Masaaki Yuasa for his film Lu Over the Wall; just behind, Sunao Katabuchi’s In This Corner of the World obtained the Jury award.
This 2017 edition of this summit of international animation is a very success, for the selected Japanese movies: there were 3, and finally, 2 of them won a prize. The director and animator of Lu Over the Wall Masaaki Yuasa won the Holy Grail: the meeting of a taciturn adolescent composing electronic music and a marvellous creature in an explosion of music, colours and shapes seduced the jury presided by the French director Céline Sciamma.
During his prolific career, Yuasa had a large experience of animation, as he worked on several projects in the capacity of key animator, or character designer. Thus he acquired this very eccentric way of producing movements and smashing the academic lines. As evidenced by his first movie, the nutty and psychedelic Mind Game (2004), a brilliant and hilarious initiation story, and The Tatami Galaxy (2010), a beautiful anime series about the hikkomori way of life, that he directed. He was also the key animator of Isao Takahata’s My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999), associating his personal perception of animation to pure and naïve drawings.
The other crowned Japanese director is Sunao Katabuchi for a film more sober than Yuasa’s: In This Corner of the World obtains the Jury award, the second most prestigious prize of the festival. It takes place during the World War II, in Hiroshima, and relates the love story of two teenagers about to get married, in a context of scarcity and misery. Despite Masaaki Yuasa, Sunao Katabuchi has no experience of key animator or character designer, though he is a storyboard artist. He is mostly a storyteller, and in this work, he tried to show how poetry could embrace even the dullest everyday life.
A Silent Voice, the other Japanese movie competing in this category, does not get any award. But another work from Japan receives another kind of reward: the Jury award for end-of-studies project goes to Sawako Kabuki, holder of a master’s degree in graphic conception at Tama Art University, and her Natsu no gero wa huyu no sakana (Summer’s Puke Is Winter’s Delight), a strange, inspired and emetic metaphor of love. Another eccentric piece, which go still further in audacity than Lu Over the Wall…