18th Manga Division Critiques

The Difficulty of a Rich Torrent of Diverse Works

What was noticeable this year was the big disparity between the state of submissions in the categories within the Manga Division. The number of entries classified as manga published in books and magazines increased, but while more than 500 titles were received in total, there was a real drop in the number of independently produced manga, such as self-published comics. Not simply limited to the difference in submission numbers, the dullness of paper-based self-published comics also contrasted with the richness of manga published in books. On the other hand, during the screening of the works in the book category, I could truly experience the sheer quantity of manga currently in distribution. Not only great in number, there were also many works with interesting, substantial content. However, while there are many magazines published, and a great many books released in succession, there is a limit to the number of works a reader can encounter. In short, the situation is such that, until the starting line at which the work reaches the hands of the reader, there are many difficulties.
When examining submissions, it was noticeable how a number of works were taking advantage of "sample comics" offered online by publishers.
Many of these samples only offer the beginning of the story, and it would be difficult to say they fulfill a function similar to that of film trailers. With the opening section of entertainment-style serialized works, there is a similarity of structure that fulfils the function of making the characters appealing and explaining the story, paradoxically preventing the strength of the work being properly conveyed. I was somewhat disappointed that, in accordance with the future increase in sales of e-books, it can also be expected that only online samples will become important.
Speaking of the Internet, it is also worthy of mention that there were many submissions in the format of what are called "webtoons", cartoon strips originating from South Korea. The format involves the use of a single page that scrolls vertically, allowing you to read the panels extending in one direction. Unfortunately, none of these works were given awards, but while it might be assumed a handicap that devices providing complex visual guidance cannot be employed in the paper medium, we should look out for the possibilities for this new form in the future.

Manga Critic and Associate Professor, Tokyo Polytechnic University
Born 1967 in Aichi Prefecture. He graduated from the Nagoya University's School of Science. Since 2009, he has been an associate professor of the Department of Manga at Tokyo Polytechnic University. He is the author of Tezuka Is Dead: Postmodernist and Modernist Approaches to Japanese Comics (NTT publishing, 2005), which has been acclaimed as a groundbreaking work in manga critique and research. He specializes in manga representation theory and character culture theory. At university he teaches manga drawing as well as theoretical research. He is also a part-time instructor in the Department of Arts Policy and Management at Musashino Art University.