17th Manga Division Critiques
Manga Power Behind the Trend of Changes
It has been three years since I became a juror. In this short period of time many forms of manga other than printed paper, such as blogs and online comics distributed by mobile phones, have considerably increased in volume. These new forms also lead to diverse changes of ideas in manga every year. As a lot of debate occurred as to whether particular works should be considered as manga or animation, I was given the impression that a genre-crossing trend is gaining momentum. On the other hand, manga published on paper shows no sign of letting up and the number of such candidates for the awards also increased. Just before the final screening process this year, I spent three days at the secretariat of the festival to finish reading through all the candidates' works, which I finally managed. Reading all the works would be a demanding task. I think there is a limit to a screening process in which every single juror has to look through all works, and this needs to be addressed in the future.The enormous volume of submissions covers various themes in terms of characters' occupations or attributes. Traditionally, the theme of "school life manga" would be limited to a baseball club, but now even unpopular clubs are featured without a moment's thought. However, the stories themselves still remain more or less the same. Most of the main characters are a little unskillful, they have undeveloped talent, they grow after overcoming some challenge after which rivals appear, then there is some kind of big moment in the end.... Although recent stories have become more sophisticated, in most cases they are simply 21st-century versions of Kyojin no Hoshi (a famous Japanese baseball manga) with some new flavors being added, and I felt quite nostalgic as a result of reading these unexpectedly familiar plot structures.00Needless to say, there were also many works in new genres. The winning works with which I was particularly impressed are: Kokokyuji Zawa-san, a new type of baseball manga, ASTEROID Miners, a comical yet seriously educational manga, Henshin no Nyu-su, which may shock the literary world, and Torokeru Tekkoujo, which features characters' enthusiasm for work.