14th Manga Division Critiques

Appealing works by female artists

The 14th Japan Media Arts Festival featured a lineup of uniformly splendid works, and those that failed to win any award lost by a very small margin. In that sense, the screening process was a tough battle that allowed for no room to consider gender balance. As a result, this year for the first time there were no awarded works by female manga artists. Screening from the progress of female artists in recent years, this outcome is somewhat baffling, but it was not intentional. This year, the jury gave the highest marks to historical manga and works with pronounced documentary quality, but manga, such as cocoon, which depicts the story of the Himeyuri Corps as a fantasy of a young girl, offer a slightly different perspective on history that makes them a mighty opponent to historical manga. WOMBS, a work that depicts with a great feeling of vitality the battles of a special corps composed entirely of pregnant women in a SF-like parallel universe, is another work that gives a foreboding glimpse into the "great fiction" typical for female artists. There were many other works by female artists that received support in the screening debate, such as Machi de Uwasa no Tengu no Ko, Fantasium, and Koukou Kyuuji ZAWA-san.

Professor, Kobe Shoin Women's University
Born in Hyogo, 1951. MURAKAMI Tomohiko graduated from the School of Sociology of Kwansei Gakuin University. He is a critic and editor. After spending years in the Cultural News Department at the Osaka Headquarters of Sports Nippon Newspapers, he served as the managing director at Channel Zero Company and the editor in chief at "Play Guide Journal", an information magazine. He is currently a professor of the General Literature, the major of Literature at Kobe Shoin Women's University. Currently he is on the selection committee for the TEZUKA Osamu Cultural Prize and is a board member of the Japan Society for Studies in Cartoons and Comics. His major works includes "It's Only Comics" (Kosaido Bunko) and "Manga Kaitai Shinsho" (Seikyusha).