23rd Manga Division Critiques

From Pureness to Darkness

This is my second year on the jury, and the number of entries fell by over 200 from the previous year to a total of 666. The 126 works that cleared the preliminary selection by the Selection Members, however, were all of high quality. I faced my task of reading these works with delight, as well as a heavy sense of responsibility in evaluating them. Robo sapiensu zenshi (Prehistory of Robo Sapiens), which won the Grand Prize, presented a story evolving over a long period of time with intricate illustrations, resulting in a impressively high degree of perfection. Bikacho shinshi kaikoroku (Memoirs of Amorous Gentlemen) addresses the essence of sexual desire with a stylish layout that truly sparkles. DOUBLE, the story of two actors struggling to break their ties, has an impressive ability to draw the reader in, and even though this was the first in the series, it won the high praise of all jury members to earn the Excellence Award. The masterpiece The Arab of the Future A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984, an autobiographical manga written by a French manga artist, and Ashitashinuniwa, (To Die Tomorrow,), which sensitively depicts the turmoil of a woman in her 40s, fills out this group of works that won the Excellence Award, all being impressive manga boasting a variety of themes and expression. There is no other. combines exquisite drawing with a plot development that surprises its readers by being completely unexpected, which ends up making them laugh. The vibrant descriptions in hana to hoho (Flower and Cheek) cleverly depict emotional upheaval, and have the kind of freshness one would expect to see in the winner of the New Faces Award. If You Become an Adult is a highly sophisticated work that has been well thought-out. It is precisely this kind of work that the Japan Media Arts Festival, which welcomes self-published works and manga from dojinshi (self published comics), can duly recognize with an award. It is somewhat sad that we had entries like this amazing work, and yet the total number of entries in the Manga Division fell significantly from that of the previous year. I think we must do more to let people know about this valuable award. The new Social Impact Award was won by Yamikin Ushijimakun (Ushijima the Loan Shark), a long-running manga series that depicted the darkness of an era.

Manga Essayist
Born in 1968 in Hiroshima Prefecture and raised in Fukuoka Prefecture. KAWAHARA worked as a preschool teacher, in the PR department of anime studio Gainax, and at other jobs before turning freelance. Now, she writes essays and provides commentary about manga. She wrote Jinsei no taisetsu na koto ha omune, manga ga oshiete kureta (Everything I Know, I Learned from Manga) [NTT Publishing, 2009]. Her major columns include Ren'ai no otehon ha, itsumo shojo manga (Girls' Manga Was My Model for Love) for the women's website SmartWoman (currently Nikkei WOMAN [Nikkei Inc.]) in 2005, and the manga commentary columns Kore yomazu ni nani wo yomu? (Well, What Should I Read, Then?) [2007-2014] and Manga koso dokusho da! (Manga Is Reading!) [2015-2019] for the web magazine Webnttpub. [NTT Publishing]. KAWAHARA has contributed essays to publications such as Sotokushu MIHARA Jun (Full Review of Jun MIHARA) [Kawade Shobo Shinsha, 2015]. She was a contributing editor and writer for the book entitled IKEDA Riyoko no sekai (The Wonderful World of Riyoko IKEDA) [Asahi Shimbun Publications, 2012]. She was a symposium panelist at the 10th Conference of the Japan Society for Studies in Cartoons and Comics in 2010, and has served as a guest lecturer at Tokyo Polytechnic University and Tokyo University of the Arts.