23rd Manga Division Critiques

Japan Media Arts Festival Continues to Change

If media arts are destined to continue changing their nature as media evolves, then the Japan Media Arts Festival must also regularly upgrade itself. The newly established Social Impact Award should be given to works that not only deserve to be widely read, but also have the kind of impact that can change manga and society from its foundation. After careful consideration, the judges' committee made the unanimous decision to give this award to MANABE Shohei's Yamikin Ushijimakun (Ushijima the Loan Shark). The author exposed the lurid realities of Japanese society through his exhaustive interviews to gather material, as well as the skilled narration that conveys a dry humor even while relating dark incidents, all of which is unprecedented. Reading it changes one's way of looking at the world, making it the perfect recipient for this award. The assumption that manga are for children belongs to the distant past, and for a long time now the majority of Japan's manga market has been made up of works aimed at adolescents and adults, and this is true whether the genre is targeted for men or women. We have also seen an increase in the number of manga that expose the dark side of society and life, and shake up the reader's sense of values. This might not always be comfortable, but it is first-class entertainment and precisely what gives manga such depth as a mode of expression. All of this is quite clear in the lineup of award-winning works this year. From among the jury's selections, I would particularly like to mention KISS - Kyojin sora wo tobu (KISS - A Madman Flies in the Sky). It was written by ARAI Hideki, whose Miyamoto kara kimi e (Miyamoto), a representative work from among his initial manga, has recently been made into a live-action film generating a great deal of excitement. ARAI's works always stomp on the more tender areas of readers' hearts and are quite challenging for this reason. It makes for an extremely uncomfortable reading experience, but the author's words and pictures are so beautiful that all one can do is sigh during the ordeal. In this work, ARAI uses pencils and pastels to dazzle the reader with a mix of reality and illusion. I highly recommend reading this.Manga awards have certainly increased since the Japan Media Arts Festival was first launched. So, then,

OMOTE Tomoyuki
Researcher, Kitakyushu Manga Museum
Born in 1969 in Osaka Prefecture. OMOTE earned a Ph.D. in literature from the Graduate School of Letters at Osaka University. He was involved in the opening of the Kyoto International Manga Museum at Kyoto Seika University and worked as a researcher of general arts before assuming his current position as manager of art-related affairs in 2011. He also works as the vice president of Kyushu Comitia Meeting, a voluntary group that puts on Kyushu Comitia, a fanzine exhibition and sale established in 2017. OMOTE also served as a director for the Japan Society for Studies in Cartoons and Comics from 2013 to 2017. His major works include Manga to museum ga deau toki (When Manga Meets Museums) [Rinsen Book Co., 2009; co-author with KANAZAWA Kodama and MURATA Mariko], Sabetsu to mukiau manga tachi (Mangas Who Face Discrimination) [Rinsen Book Co., 2007; co-author with YOSHIMURA Kazuma and TANAKA Satoshi], and Hadashi no Gen ga ita fukei: manga, senso, kioku (Contexts of Barefoot Gen: Manga, War, Memory) [Azusa Shuppansha, 2006; co-editor with YOSHIMURA Kazuma and FUKUMA Yoshiaki]. On many occasions, he has also provided commentary and chronological compilations of authors' bodies of work for special editions of books.