21st Manga Division Critiques
Manga Is Endless
It seems like we have been continuously told that manga is in a period of transition, but perhaps the current hot topic is reading manga for free on the Internet. It looks like the man- ga artists themselves will have to do something about the situation, but I think many manga artists wouldn't be manga artists in the rst place if they actually had legal negotiation skills or business management capabilities. I'm also one of them. The same is true for music, and as a result, the bookstores and record stores have disappeared from my neighborhood, and now drugstores and massage shops are excessively conspicuous. I guess everyone is struggling to maintain his or her own physical condition. I'm also one of them. Paper books and phonograph records are be- coming luxury items. In particular, I am hearing that, with scant hopes for short story sales, publishing companies are tending to avoid signing new titles. Like single songs that can change an era, I hear that there were many shocking manga short stories, but what now?The Grand Prize winner Nee, Mama (My dear, mom), the short story on mother-related themes, has a charm akin to hearing a classic concept album. It brings the ex- citement that results from a transition from calm daily life conversation to a wordless dramatic scene depicted on a two-page spread. It tells us how brilliant and lovely any moment in a person's life is. I don't want to let go of this luxury. I hope such brilliant short stories continue to be published and sold.Excellence Award winner UENO Kentaro is a gag artist who has long been known affectionately in the industry as someone who is a bit nuts. I hope this award will help his work sell like nuts, so that the light of his gags never goes out.I am joyful and grateful that tremendous young talents such as New Face Award recipient ITAGAKI Paru are still making their appearances in the manga world. I can't wait to give a copy of BEASTARS to all the pessimists saying that manga is dead, while tapping them on the shoulder and saying, "Wait until you read this before you say that."It has been three years since I became a juror, and shelved (deep in the back of the shelf) the question of whether I am even worthy to make judgments on other people's manga. Although there were copious failures, re- grets, soul searching, and embarrassments along the way, I'll shelve these, too, if there is any room left on the shelf.