16th Manga Division Critiques
Internationalization, Media Diversification, and the Power of Manga
While there was a plethora of excellent manga submitted this year, there was no one work that prompted a unanimous response. This led to a split jury and a string of works that failed to capture an Excellence Award by only one vote. I think some major reasons for this were marked increases in the internationalization of the entries, the diversification of media, and inter-generational value differences. Every time I read a work, I felt obliged to realign the coordinates in my brain before contending with the next one. Every work seemed to teem with a power that defied the usual judging criteria of visual impact, compositional excellence, and appealing characters.
The Grand Prize was selected with almost no dissent, and the Excellence and New Face Award recipients were all eminently deserving, but I was particularly impressed by three: RAGAWA Marimo's Mashiro no Oto, which made excellent use of the Tsugaru dialect; Emmanuel LEPAGE's Muchacho, which best satisfied the above three criteria; and OZAWA Yuki's Koori no Te, SiberiaYokuryuu-ki, for its wholehearted dedication on every level. There were also works such as Nico NICHOLSON's Nagasare-ru Ietate-ru, with its lifesize portrayal of the experiences of Tohoku earthquake victims; Hebizo and UMINO Nagiko's Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo, which made readers laugh while contributing to international understanding; ARAKAWA Hiromu's Hyakusho Kizoku, with its powerful depiction of indigenous culture; educational manga master ASARI Yoshitoh's MANGA SCIENCE; the overwhelming power of ASADA Jiro and NAGAYASU Takumi's Mibu Gishi Den; EGUCHI Natsumi's HOZUKI NO REITETSU, brimming with impudent ennui and youthful verve; MATSUDA Hiroko's Mamagoto, which could easily have won the Grand Prize; CHIKAZAWA Chuya's wholly unpredictable Yogensha PIPPI; Usa-kun's amusing Mako Chan Enikki, recommendation of which seemed to require strong theoretical arguments; and YAMAKAWA Naoto's Cho Ko Do Shujin, which broke new ground in the medium... But I should also mention YOSHIZAKI Seimu's Kingyoya Kosyoten, OKADAYA Tetsuzoh's Hirahira ~Kuniyoshi Ichimon Ukiyotan~, KONO Fumiyo's boorupen KOJIKI, MATSUMOTO Taiyo's Sunny... All the manga on this list amply deserve recognition by the Japan Media Arts Festival.