18th Manga Division Critiques

Even If There Are Harsh Times Ahead

Starting with the Grand Prize-winner Goshiki no fune, six of the award-winning works Harukaze no sunegurachika, Hitsuji no ki, Dobugawa, Chi-chan wa chotto tarinai, and Ai o kurae!! (A Chinese Life might also be included) depict people we feel pity for, or who are in positions very different from the norm. And yet, there was no prior intention to do this. Manga is a medium sensitive to the currents of the world. The selected works are no different, and so it is with a slight feeling of apprehension that I sense the manga artists preparing for tougher days ahead in the trial-and-error approach they take in their stories.
However, all the works truly try to show us means of living in the face of situations that would otherwise make one feel helpless. They make you feel from different angles that, even in what may at first seem to be a terrible disaster, new paths may reveal themselves provided there is a readiness to hold on and live with determination. I don't, of course, want to invite negative feelings about what lies ahead. However, if I were at the mercy of a situation in which I were helpless to do anything, would I be able to live as boldly as the characters in these stories? It is my hope that I would.
I am especially pleased that Goshiki no fune won the Grand Prize.
Even among KONDO's numerous masterpieces, it is a really wonderful work. Whenever you read Aoi honoo, your shoulders relax as you laugh at the intensely thoughtful main character "overdoing it". Through it, you feel the power for life that springs from laughter. The TV drama version, made by a director who loves the original, was also a success. Special Achievement Award-winner ONO Kosei, who for many years suppor ted the overseas comics that have been booming of late, is surely a man of special achievement.
This year again, starting with the works I have mentioned here, I have gained much from coming into contact with a great many works rich in content. I feel embarrassed that I still have no idea how to return it.

Manga Researcher
YAMADA made her debut as a manga writer in commercial publications in 1998 with her article *Who Does the 'Year 24 Group' Refer to?* in the *Comic Box* magazine. Starting with her earliest temp job at the Kawasaki City Museum, she has been involved for over 20 years in manga exhibition, acquisition and preservation. In 2008 she supervised the *Ballet Manga -Leap above the beauty-* exhibition at the Kyoto International Manga Museum. In recent years she has frequently interviewed or emceed roundtables of such prominent girls' manga artists as HAGIO Moto, YAMAGISHI Ryoko, and IKEDA Riyoko. Since 2009 she has been a director of the Japan Society for Studies in Cartoon and Comics. She is also on the staff of the Yoshihiro Yonezawa Memorial Library of Manga and Subcultures at Meiji University.