19th Manga Division Critiques
New Polemics of Digital Manga
948 entries applied to the manga category, the highest in its history. This impressive quantity of application also indicates the immensity of published works, but it is premature to become content. Presently, the sales of manga books are declining. As such, the publishers are increasing the number of publications to ensure revenue. However, the revenue from manga sales are said to be slightly increasing while the overall revenue from the publication business continues to slump. Reason being, the revenue from digital works sold as e-books are expanding its sales. To symbolize this fact, many of the manga published in a book or in magazine serializations are also sold in digital formats. Additionally, in comparison to last year that saw many applications of vertical scrolling manga, this year's majority was one or two page spread manga similar to analog works. This trend is definitely brought about by the increasing resolution of liquid crystal displays. When digital works are drawn on the same page composition as analog works, no cost is incurred when published in book form. Due to this trend, it is visibly evident that the refreshing novelty of digital works is decreasing. Not all, but many of the works also appeared to have similar patterns and line-weights as having used the same software and equipments. It can be said that this trend makes apparent the loss of uniqueness essential to manga. If one is to imagine that the increasing number of manga is linked to the rational evolution of digital animation technology, then I cannot rejoice honestly. In that respect, this year's award recipients were all full of personality. Inevitably, we are naturally drawn visually and emotionally to exemplar uniqueness after reading through so many works. Grand Prize winning Kakukaku shikajika (So-and-so, Such-and-such) by HIGASHIMURA Akiko is truly such work only possible by this artist. As someone teaching at an art university, I was intrigued by the concept of behaviorism, a form of repetitive-pattern training in psychology, similar to boot-camp training in military. However, I just wept as I completely forgot about my social position. Of the four Excellence Awards, I was attracted to Awajima hyakkei (A Hundred Scenes of AWAJIMA) by SHIMURA Takako. The composition is skillful and it is a work that does not cease to provide enjoyment. Otouto no otto (My Brother's Hus-band) by TAGAME Gengoroh surprised me slightly as someone who knew his previous works, for the transformation towards a warm and tender style influenced by the transition to a general manga magazine. GODA Yoshiie's Kikai jikake no ai (Machinework Love) is another acclaimed work, but I thoroughly admire the artist's determination to keep drawing high-quality short stories in the current manga industry with a strong tendency towards extra long serializations, much less on the exhausted theme of robots. I was initially worrisome about the rough drawing technique by markers in Non-working City but the author's (an architect from Macau) delineation of buildings especially was superb. Finally, I was overwhelmed by the sheer power of what those images were trying to convey.
Of the three New Face Awards, I was most drawn to Machida-kun no sekai (The World of Machida-kun) by ANDO Yuki. The carefree personality of the main character, MACHIDA-kun, is hard to dislike as it reminds us of the movie Forrest Gump. It is a new type of work that can be described as a psychological manga and its future development is promising. Many voiced their opinion that esoragoto (Absurd Ideas) by nerunodaisuki "looked like 'Garo' magazine". Self-published manga contains not only referenced works but also many unique works like this one, and it is regrettable other authors didn't apply. Tamashii Ippai (Lots of Life) by OKUYAMA Yuka first appears to be like a blog manga or self-published manga, but there is an uncanny quality as one reads on. Sannen-me (Third year) was particularly good since I love the classic Japanese comedy.