17th Manga Division Critiques

Diversification of Manga Representation

First of all, a pleasing aspect of this year's Manga Division is the increased number of submissions. Moreover, it is extremely satisfying that the range of submissions expanded widely to include everything from commercially successful major works to very personal works. In Japan, "manga" in recent times has generally referred to "story manga". In this field, it's common knowledge that a high quality of representation is consistent with commercial success. This indicates a confidence in the aesthetic assessment of good quality in the reader's judgement. This year's Grand Prize reflects this.
The "story manga" referred to here means a work for which an enormous amount of time is spent to create a large number of pages and, in many cases, results in the form of long serialization which conveys a complicated and elaborate story. Most submissions this year fit this category. I expect that those who are interested in the awards in the Manga Division also share the assumption that a manga refers to story manga. However, in the broad sense of the term, a manga representation is not exclusive to story manga, but inclusive of various forms. In this field, too, there were a wide variety of works in this year's submissions.

The abovementioned "major works" refer to story manga which assume a large circulation. On the other hand, the "personal works" include handmade-like works which their authors refuse to copy in quantity. The latter may bring the experience of reading itself to the fore. This can be considered a primary reason for the expansion of submissions. Many debates on whether a particular work should be categorized as manga were held during the screening process this year. This is also a concrete sign that the range of submissions widely expanded.
The notion that a manga refers to story manga is not absolute. Manga research in recent years has actively tried to dispel this assumption which had become mainstream in manga discourse. This year's submissions and screening process aligned with this most recent academic approach.

Manga Critic and Associate Professor, Tokyo Polytechnic University
Born 1967 in Aichi Prefecture. He graduated from the Nagoya University's School of Science. Since 2009, he has been an associate professor of the Department of Manga at Tokyo Polytechnic University. He is the author of Tezuka Is Dead: Postmodernist and Modernist Approaches to Japanese Comics (NTT publishing, 2005), which has been acclaimed as a groundbreaking work in manga critique and research. He specializes in manga representation theory and character culture theory. At university he teaches manga drawing as well as theoretical research. He is also a part-time instructor in the Department of Arts Policy and Management at Musashino Art University.