18th Manga Division Critiques
The Absence of Light -hearted Manga
In this year's screening, there was an overwhelming 700-plus works, and we had a hard time reading them all. The professional work was also generally of a high technical level. For one thing, there were greater opportunities to see the evolution of tools and overseas works, and games and drawings of a high standard. And now, as it becomes natural for children to read manga from an early age - as if receiving a special education for the gifted - it seems these developments are the result of "growing up". Since manga artists succeeded 50 years ago in drawing readers into the world of their narratives by continually studying the composition of panels over a two-page spread, thus allowing the story to flow or run, manga has come to be accepted as a medium that can be disseminated worldwide.
However, regrettably there is a feeling that the highest level of completion has been reached, and that we cannot expect any further progress in the world of books. In regard not only to technical aspects but also in terms of narrative, the division of genres has already been exhausted, and in many fields there are further subdivisions that become nothing more than esoteric.
A characteristic of works this year, whether due to the strong academic background of the creators or greater reader numbers, was a marked increase in works with a literary flavor, and works not simply about sex, disability and other taboos, but which depicted something with a particular sensitivity. The high level of perfection is welcome, but for some reason I am also conscious of a feeling of loneliness. It is also important to have a sensibility whereby one unreservedly senses the "attraction" of a work. While adults frown and retort at its inevitability, I feel the end has come for the manga that emerged from this wellspring. If so, what then remains are simply the trends riding the current of the age and relying on individual sensibilities, and yet we can say that individual sensibilities already exist as "serious manga for adults", inclusive of self-published comics. I have tried to convince myself that this year's entries do not account for all the manga in the world, and that it may be a trait of this festival. What I had most wanted to see - a manga work that connects to the future - was not selected for an award this year, but I have expectations for the future of online comics.