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Curatorial Theme Expanded Animation

Advances in information and communications technology such as the internet and digital methods of creation continue to advance, and the ongoing pandemic continues to change our way of life and values. Meanwhile, the appearance of new platforms like VR, AR and their fusion with video games have led to a brand-new conceptions of what animation is.

The role and importance of animation continues to expand, and creators are bursting with diverse ideas and expressions. Animation has exploded into new frontiers, such as film, games, art and beyond, defying classification as it goes.

Meanwhile, the ongoing pandemic has changed our lifestyles, giving us new ways and places in which to consume movies under the new media environment. While trips to the cinema have decreased, viewers have embraced video consumption on devices like PCs and smartphones. The concepts of playing games and watching videos have also merged, and wearable devices that provide interactive experiences are also becoming an important part of video consumption.

In 2019, sales in Japan’s animation market surpassed those in 2018 and hit a record high: some 2.51 trillion yen, or over 23.2 billion USD. A look into those figures reveals that TV sales decreased, while sectors like streaming, theatrical, and live entertainment increased. Animation-based products like video games and live-action TV series were created abroad, and the global market itself increased. From an economic perspective, too, it is clear that Japanese animation is expanding.

In this year’s exhibition, we have chosen to showcase Japanese animation’s dynamic range of expression under the theme “Expanded Animation.” The exhibition, presented online due to the pandemic, will include a lineup of films by creators working in Japan as well as talks and panels taking a look at the ever-changing world of animation.

The Japan Media Arts Festival, run by Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan, is celebrating its 24th anniversary, and is Japan’s largest media arts festival. Despite the pandemic, it received 3,693 entries from 103 countries and regions: a vast lineup of ambitious and original works from around the world. We hope this site, curated from those entries, gives you a sense for animation’s energetic expansion and evolution.

Director, Japan Media Arts Festival Overseas Promotion Animation Division
June 2021

Director’s Profile


OKAMOTO Mitsuko portrait

Producer/Vice President, Tokyo University of the Arts; Professor, Department of Animation, Postgraduate School of Film and New Media; Director, SQUARE ENIX HOLDINGS CO., LTD.
Produces and curates numerous TV programs, visual works, and events. Notable produced programs include Digital Stadium (2000–2006), NHK Educational TV Monday-Friday broadcasting 2355, 0655 (2010 to present), and TECHNE: The Visual Workshop (2011 to present). Major production events include “Digital Art Festival Tokyo” (2003–2005), “Tokyo University of the Arts, Visual Department of Games” (2017), “Tokyo University of the Arts, Department of Games - Vertical Slice” (2018), “ART of 8K” exhibition (2018).
Judge for Mainichi Film Awards, Best Animation Film division (2019, 2020), and general director for the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in 2018, 2019 and 2020, heading the overseas exhibition of the Japan Media Arts Festival.