21st Manga Division Critiques
Beyond the Ripped Canvas
This was my first experience as a juror. Honestly, at first I felt awkward about it, but the Excellence Award (now the New Face Award) I received for Tenken-sai created various possibilities for me, so I figured it was time to give something back.Once I started screening, I found the pressure to be tremendous in terms of both content and quantity. Every submission was dense, offering various types of appeal. I found myself stunned by manga the likes of which I'd never seen before and moved to tears by popular stories that I hadn't read earlier. Anyway, I came up with my own benchmark and strove to evaluate all the works fairly.Even so, once the five of us met and the screening process began progressing, a trend seemed to emerge in which the evaluations of several jurors came together. It was as if the world were a canvas, and these stories were cleanly ripping that canvas open to see what was behind it. Many things were visible behind that canvas, perhaps a blue sky, perhaps emptiness, but the stories seemed to tell me that they had to be uncovered and seen. It was both mysterious and satisfying for me to witness this gathering of such works.There are many excellent works among the Jury Selections, including the richly and colorfully depicted masterpiece Fuichin Zai jian! I have a pre-war publica- tion Manga Koza, in which the question of whether a woman can become a manga artist is posed. The book describes biased views such as "women don't under- stand humor" and "they don't have the discipline to last," and it concludes that women would be suitable for themes such as human drama, or love and beauty. Today, female manga artists create manga in all genres as a matter of course, but Fuichin Zai jian! Portrays, with conviction, women breaking through difficulties in an era when things were very different. Now the story has a conclusion, and I hope it is read widely.The readability of Ashiato-Tantei was a topic of dis- cussion. Many jurors recognized talent in the flowing sensibility of having to chase footprints. My experience on the jury made me newly aware of the inexhaustible potential of manga.