16th Manga Division Critiques
Shout-Out to Marvelous Manga from Around the World
Some people may be surprised that the Manga Division Grand Prize was awarded not to a just-published Japanese work but to Les Cités Obscures, which first appeared in France in the mid-1980s. They should be more surprised, however, that this series has not been available to Japanese readers until now. Another, newer bande dessinée (Francophone manga), Muchacho, also won an Excellence Award. Contributing largely to these choices is the gradual proliferation in Japan in recent years of overseas manga published in translation. In a sense, then, these awards are a shout-out to the people who have translated, published, distributed, and otherwise treasured these works in a country that has traditionally been unreceptive to foreign comics. Excellence Award winner Gaku, Minna no Yama is marvelous for its positive outlook on mountains, people, and life. Through the fabricated bodies of its characters, GUNSLINGER GIRL -- a tour-de-force of manga drawing -- compels us to contemplate the possibilities of the physical body as well as of fictional media. And I hope that Mashiro no Oto, which opens our eyes to the world of musical expression, continues its sprint to the serialization finish line in such splendid fashion. Koori no Te, Siberia Yokuryuu-ki conveys the horror and injustice of internment precisely because it is written and drawn in such a detached manner. Though OZAWA Yuki is not a newcomer, she truly merits the New Face Award for this groundbreaking work. Emerging artists TANAKA Ai and SINZO Keigo will surely break new ground, too, in manga and perhaps other media. It has been a great pleasure to be involved in giving awards to all these artists. I am especially happy to have been par t y to the choice of KONAGAI Nobumasa as recipient of the Special Achievement Award. He amply deserves this honor for his contributions of many years, not only to manga but to the publishing industry as a whole, through his work in girls' manga and his leadership at Hakusensha. If manga are themselves a world-class cultural asset, then he has contributed to world culture as well.