17th Manga Division Critiques

Manga as Independent Expression

People are allowed to think or imagine anything. They are free to express what they think or imagine not only by means of words, but also using manga, paintings or films as their output. They can depict anything imaginable without hesitation. However, as the concept of freedom of expression penetrates deeply into society, disagreements arise. There exist conventions and laws to reconcile these conflicts. With regard to manga representation, the development of tools, software and the internet environment are certainly making a positive contribution to creativity, but there are also many aspects in today's manga environment which could lead to disincentives for artists to express themselves. However, if I express a simple principle of my own, a work of expression should, once expressed, not be subject to influences which attempt to limit expression.
Although there are many new face awards established by publishers in the manga industry, only a few awards are open to the general public. The Japan Media Arts Festival is a work-oriented award which is not decided by popularity polls and places no limitation on the form of submissions.
As a wide-open award, it will become more important in the industry. For the screening, I take the stance that the judging processes also generate an "expression", that of the jury.
This year again, the number of submissions increased compared to the previous year. For the Grand Prize, JOJOLION was selected after considering the influence of the series on manga culture and other artists' future work, as well as the achievement of it being translated into different languages. We have a lineup of marvelous new works for the Excellence and New Face Awards. We didn't discuss it during the screening process, but these eight award-winning works, with their different publication methods also originated from, such as serialized book publications and works released online. This makes evident the variety of interrelated media forms in the Japanese manga industry today. Although it's a pity that some very popular works were not submitted, I think all the award-winning works show powerful independent expression and are worthy representatives of the manga of 2013.

SAITO Nobuhiko
Editor and Manga Researcher
SAITO is the author of Manga no Idenshi (The Genetics of Manga) (Kodansha Gendai Shinsho, 2011), co-author of Manga no Yomikata (How to Read Manga (Takarajimasha, 1995), and has edited or contributed to numerous other books about manga. In 2000 he helped found the online bookstore bk1, for which he has served as editor in chief and director. Since 2004 he has been active in the editing and production of manga-related publications and events, including the editing of AOIKE Yasuko Collection (Booking), editorial supervision of Nippon no Manga (Manga of Japan) (Asahi Shimbunsha, 2006), and co-direction, with NATSUME Fusanosuke, of the DNA of "Sunday" and "Magazine" exhibition in 2009.