18th Manga Division Critiques

Manga Works Transmitted/Transmitting to the Next Generation

The format of the Japan Media Arts Festival consists, in the same manner as film festivals and other such events, of the screening of works submitted by the creators themselves. What differs greatly between the Manga Division and the aforementioned film festivals - and also the other divisions in this festival - is that many submitted works are incomplete. This means that, in the case of Japanese manga, there are (still) many works published in the form of books or series in magazines, and that there are (still) few submissions from overseas. This was my third and last year as a Jury member. The Jury have made great efforts to select works best representing 2014 that are worthy of being transmitted to the next generation. This is done with the consideration that applicants wish to create epoch-making works conveying a message to future generations. The total number of submissions this year exceeded 700. Even though I read regularly, I was hard-pushed to look through hundreds of works in nearly two months, and the threshold seems to be approaching in terms of submission numbers.
Firstly, the Grand Prize was decided by the unanimous agreement of all Jury members.
At the final curtain of Goshiki no fune, as the Fellini-esque trailing notes dye away, if we dare to cite its weaker aspects it would be that it wasn't able to go beyond what was called to mind at the outset. The Excellence Awards consisted of a line of works depicting chaos and confusion. As for the New Face Awards, there was a tendency for votes to be split between male and female Jury members, but decisions were reached after exhaustive discussion. I was left with the impression that, not only the award-winning works, but a number of other entries depicted mental or physical loss, and many would be worth reading as single volumes. Glancing over the Jury Selections, there were mainstream Japanese manga about school, sports, fighting, love, and fantasy, in addition to overseas entries, and online and self-published manga, these genres and forms diversifying in competition with one another. The image I retain of this year's festival is not of a sprinkling of small isolated peaks, but the formation of a serene mountain range. These works may appear to be suffused with the ambience of the era in which they were made, but is this the case? Let us bury the seeds of submissions not listed here, and see if they grow to connect with future generations. With expectations that the artists' seeds will germinate and thrive, I entrust future juries not to let them slip through their fingers.

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.