25th Manga Division Critiques

Japanese Manga Goes beyond Sturgeonʼs Law

Even as a manga freak, I braced myself for the pain
of reading so many entries for judging, but I ended up
being exhilarated like an ant that’s fallen into a sugar
pot. What surprised me was the high quality of the entries—every entry was excellent, including the almost
unknown ones. There were only three ratings based
on my criteria: “interesting,” “very interesting,” and
“extremely interesting.” Sturgeon’s law, stating “ninety
percent of everything is crap,” doesn’t seem to apply
to modern Japanese manga. I don’t mean that now is
the golden era, but rather, the evolution of manga will
continue. I was convinced of this when I saw the entries
this year.
The Grand Prize winner, Golden Raspberry by
MOCHIDA Aki, instantly carries away readers with
its particularly unique characters and powerful and
speedy story development. Maintaining the identity of
the girl’s manga genre, it also appeals to male readers.
The Excellence Award winner, The Concierge at
Hokkyoku Department Store by NISHIMURA Tsuchika,
consists of extremely fine drawings, comparable to
those by TAKANO Fumiko, with an eccentric story of
a department store where extinct animals come to
shop. Another Excellence Award winner, THE BEST
portrays the previously unrevealed postwar history of
Vietnamese refugees, along with the history of a family.
It illustrates a lower-case world of “family” that is often
hidden behind the capitalized term, “Refugee,” in a very
realistic manner. The Social Impact Award winner, ONNA NO SONO NO HOSHI by WAYAMA Yama, doesn’t
need much explanation. In a world of a women’s high
school, drawn in a style resembling that of ITO Junji,
peaceful days with only good girls unroll without bullying or teasing. But why does this work generate such
disturbing laughter? The impact of the appearance of
WAYAMA Yama will likely persist for a while.

SAITO Tamaki
Psychiatrist / Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tsukuba / Critic
Born in Iwate Prefecture, 1961. SAITO completed his Ph.D. in medicine at the University of Tsukuba, and currently serves as a professor of social psychiatry and mental health in the Faculty of Medicine at the university. He specializes in the psychopathology of puberty and adolescence, and the treatment of as well as support and education surrounding the hikikomori problem. He has extensive knowledge of manga, film, and general subcultures and has written a wide range of books ranging from paperbacks to full-blown art and literary criticism. His collaboration with contemporary artist KAIHATSU Yoshiaki, titled Otaku Room, was featured as part of the OTAKU: persona = space = city exhibition at the Japan Pavilion in the Venice Biennale: International Architecture Exhibition in 2004. His published works include Beautiful Fighting Girl (University of Minnesota Press, 2011), Sekai ga doyo no yoru no yume nara: Yanki to seishin bunseki (If the World Were a Saturday Night’s Dream: Yankees and Psychoanalysis, Kadokawa Shoten, 2012), which won the Kadokawa Foundation Art and Science Award, and Kokoro wo yandara ikenai no? Utsubyo shakai no shohosen (Is It Wrong to Be Mentally Ill? A Prescription for a Depressed Society, coauthored with YONAHA Jun, Shinchosha, 2020), which won the Kobayashi Hideo Prize.