19th Manga Division Critiques

Manga is Made by the ‘Body’

The "brain" alone cannot create manga. Even if a masterpiece is completed in one's "brain", it takes the "body" countless hours sitting and drawing by hand to bring the work into the world. Same goes for the digital production. I would like to remind this simple truth to all creators globally now that the medium of manga has reached its maturation; the selection of Kakukaku shikajika (So-and-so, Such-and-such) for the Grand Prize was also an indication of that personal feeling. This year's 948 manga category applicants were all propelled by this act of "drawing" and I express my respect for all of them. Particularly, the Excellence Award winner Non-working City is a tour-de-force borne from persistently pursuing the "drawing".
This was my first year as a jury member. The impassioned discussion there can be summated as being thoroughly fun.
Of course it is enjoyable to read manga, but it is even more enjoyable to seriously talk about them; more serious the better. Though contents may differ, I repeatedly experienced the special quality of manga as a medium empowered to pursue the meaning of "fun".
One thing that concerned me was how artists were unmindful about their mediums, notwithstanding that there were three meticulously separated categories: "Comics published in book form / comics published in a magazine"; "online manga"; and "self-published manga". I hope artists will emerge who are mindful about creating powerful works in search for unique expressions possible only to each medium, whether paper or web, that maintain its potency within the overarching framework of manga. Furthermore, I firmly believe this festival is the opportune platform to excavate those talents.
This year marks the 19th session, and there is an emerging sense of what is expected from both the judges' and applicants' sides. Though not necessarily a bad thing for awards to have certain tendencies, I have expectations for next year onward to encounter powerful works that will transcend our tendencies.

Manga Journalist
Born in 1970 in Kanagawa Prefecture. After working as an editor at Amazon Japan she became a freelance writer in 2003. Since then, she has planned and written articles related mainly to manga, such as interviews with manga artists and serial columns in magazines including Da Vinci, Morning, and Lettuce Club. Her books include Manga no no kitaekata (How to Train Manga Brains) [Shueisha, 2010], for which she conducted interviews with artists about their working techniques; We are uchu kyodai—Uchu hikoshi no sokojikara (We Are Space Brothers—The Strength of Astronauts), for which she interviewed astronauts and space development specialists; and We are uchu kyodai—Uchu wo butai ni katsuyaku suru hitotachi (We Are Space Brothers—People Active on the Stage of Space) [Morning Editorial Department, Kodansha, +a Shinsho, 2012]. She also edited a language studies book in France, Le Japonais du Manga, co-authored with Misato RAILLARD [Assimil, 2015], which features Japanese manga terms for French manga fans.