18th Manga Division Critiques
Manga with Editors, and Manga without
There was a readiness with which the Jury faced the review of entries this year. With a total number of 763 entries, it was anticipated that great effort would be required even to simply look through all works.
However, in comparison to last year it was easier in some respects. Thanks to the majority of manga issued in books or published in magazines being available also in e-book form, I was able to read submissions at places of my own choosing without having to walk carrying a large quantity of books. Manga viewable on a computer or a portable digital device were divided into two categories: Online comics, generally offered in the vertical scrolling format by emerging IT companies, and manga published on paper by manga publishers that have a proven track record.
Among the vertical scrolling manga, I remember the agony of having to read numerous works telling one-off stories with tedious plots. There were only a handful of works that exploited this format, and perhaps the day when they are abandoned by readers entirely is close at hand. Also characteristic of the genre is that, in simply arranging a large number of works in a line, the presence of the editors is not felt.
In contrast, among the digital manga released by manga publishers, of which ONE PUNCH-MAN is representative, whether or not due in part to the fact that they are also producing comics, one can still sense the involvement of the editor. In order that the new digital power can be ranked alongside the old power, surely there is an urgent need to nurture editors who are able to monitor the quality of work.
Both Grand Prize-winner Goshiki no fune and the New Face Award-winners Dobugawa and Chi-chan wa chotto tarinai, all published on paper, are works that would have been difficult to publish in magazines without the support of editors who understand the work, and there were many such entries among this year's selections. Here - and this is also applicable to manga artists - one can sense the readiness and dignity of the editors, and with it I felt their reliability.
That it was a lean year both for self-published comics and online comics may possibly be related to the presence, or absence of editors.