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A short animated film created by students from three art universities in Japan, China and South Korea was shown at an online symposium recently held by Tokyo University of the Arts, one of the institutions involved in the project.

About 30 graduate students from Tokyo University of the Arts, Korea National University of Arts and Communication University of China collaborated on the animation project, production of which took place solely online last August due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to the art university in Tokyo.

The annual project called “Co-work,” launched in 2010 to build a network of young creators to lead the future of Asian animation culture, was in its 11th year in 2020. The project’s activities over the past years were discussed at the symposium held on Jan. 22, the university said.

The latest film shown at the symposium was created by the students from the three universities, who were mixed and divided into five groups. By discussing the content in numerous online meetings held last August, they completed a compilation of five short films titled “Five Elements Symphony.”

With the aim of providing an uplifting message to viewers amid the pandemic, each short animation film was created by incorporating one of the five natural elements in Chinese philosophy — wood, fire, earth, metal and water — as a theme, according to the website of the project, while some works also depicted cultural elements from the three Asian countries.

One film with wood as a theme features a girl wearing a mask who walks out of a hospital and follows a butterfly through barren land to a mysterious forest. Another film themed on fire describes a group of characters shaped in flames, which symbolize Japan, China and South Korea, traveling the world to bring light and encouragement.

The compilation of the films lasts a total six minutes and can be viewed here.

Speaking at the online symposium, Mitsuko Okamoto, vice president of Tokyo University of the Arts, stressed the importance of continuing international exchanges in the field of films, maintaining such exchanges will become increasingly easier in the near future as information and communications technologies develop.

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