15th Manga Division Critiques
A diverse collection of work and high hopes for those from overseas
With the addition of the New Face Award, the finalists were even more varied this year than in the past. Saturn Apartments, which reached its brilliant conclusion this year, and HIMITSU THE TOP SECRET, now fast approaching its climax -- each was often among the finalists in previous years -- garnered wide support and were finally honored with the Grand Prize and Excellence Award. On the other hand, new arrivals that made powerful entrances like I, Mamagoto and Sunny each had vocal advocates, but for now we must await future developments. How to determine when to evaluate story manga, which often become long-running serials, is a perpetual dilemma. Ano-hi kara no Manga (Manga after 3.11) -- which sublimates through idiosyncratic expression the artist's own anxiety about the impact of the nuclear power plant accident that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake -- expressed feelings that were shared by many manga artists but only glimpsed in other entries. That foreign works received the Excellence Award for the first time -- and not just one but two -- seems a symbolic result for a year that saw rapid growth in the publication of foreign manga in translation. Meanwhile, distinct from the high quality of the work itself, L'INCAL by Moebius, the master of the French comic BD, raised the question of what it might mean to honor it anew given that the original was completed in 1988 and already enjoys an established reputation. There are many fine works around the world that have yet to be translated. How the Japan Media Arts Festival should regard such works is surely an issue for the future.Among new artists, I pushed for Jigoku... Ochisomeshi Yarodomo, by fanzine artist Tsuchika Nishimura, WORKING KENTAUROS by EST EM, and Blood diver Ringo and Fishbowl head man by Yoichi Abe, all of which I found appealing for their newcomer brazenness.