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Excellence Award

DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan


Animated feature film [Japan]

DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan is a 12-episode animated TV series about the adventures of Hisone Amakasu, a rookie in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force assigned for duty at Gifu Air Base, and Masotan, a dragon that transforms into a military plane. Hisone, Masotan, and their fellow troops, all characters of strong individuality, undergo ex- tremely harsh training to prepare for Matsurigoto, a major national ritual. It is a heartwarming experience to ob- serve the growing friendship between Hisone, who is conscious over the fact that her inability to lie often results in her hurting people, and Masotan, who is straightforward and honest but has a fear of strangers. The series is the result of the collaborative work of a creative team led by Director HIGUCHI Shinji of Shin Godzilla fame and OKADA Mari, who worked on the screenplay of Ano- hana: The Flower We Saw That Day. At first glance, the drawings appear to be composed of roundish simple lines, but in fact the animation features nu- merous fascinating details dispersed throughout the story. For instance, the interior of Gifu Air Base, where the story unfolds, is conveyed with great preci- sion based on information gathered at the actual base. Also, in the scenes in which the dragons transform into military planes, the gradual changes in their bodies are depicted with extreme attention to detail.24 min. × 12 episodes





Born in 1965 in Tokyo. Film and special effects director. Received a Japan Academy Film Prize for his effects work on the Heisei Gamera series. Directed Lorelei (2005), Sinking of Japan (2006), and The Floating Castle (2012).

( 2017 )

Award Reason

DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan is a 100% original animation series that is not based on a manga or a game. The quirky personality of the protago- nist strikes a nice balance with the somewhat plain character design. The animation-like dramatic develop- ment of the story blends well with the realistic depiction of the Self-Defense Force. The switch between reality and fantasy in the description of the flight scenes, including the switch from vir- tual reality to internal organs, is also successful. The structure of the plot, which makes the audience eagerly anticipate each coming episode, and the relationship between the anima- tion and the reality of TV broadcast- ing are unique characteristics of this work as an animation series. The creative team has successfully man- aged to complete the series while maintaining a certain standard from the beginning to the end, and this fact alone deserves admiration. Naturally, the audience is not really interested in the efforts that the creators put into their work, their struggles within a limited time frame, or their ability to produce great animation despite an insufficient budget. The audience bases their judgement on the finished product alone, and this is the way it should be. Yet, there must be a good reason that enabled the creative team to complete the entire series without losing speed. There must have been a certain something that inspired the staff to work so hard. I would like to praise everyone who worked on this animation series. (KIFUNE Tokumitsu)

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