24th Manga Division Critiques
The End of Adolescence for Japanese Manga
Japan's manga now has the ancien régime in its rearview mirror. With the inexorable shift to the digital market, manga need not count on only magazines for their platform, and genre boundaries like manga aimed at shojo (girls), shonen (boys), and the general public are dissolving. That intrigued readers can now access works more easily than by picking up print media is a blessing for manga. In the midst of such changes, I wonder if the proverbial "bestseller rules" are less of a sure thing. I believe only artists with truly intriguing things to illustrate will survive into the future. Further, artists native to digital media are steadily becoming mainstream players. In the past three years on this jury, I've felt acutely the tide turning. No longer are known names or lists of achievements required. I imagine it's the artists who can see this as an opportunity who will craft in the coming times. The Japan Media Arts Festival does not consider sales the only measure of a work. Submissions are truly diverse, and through them we can sense the present state of manga. What is current in creative works, especially those as affordable and accessible as Japanese manga, is in fact a reflection of the situations people find themselves in. What I felt in this year's submissions was, for better or worse, a grounded and earnest attitude toward reality. They have not become, for lack of a better phrase, carried away. That manga have expanded their readership means they have captured the thoughts of a greater number of people in the real world. This can be reframed as maturation. Manga is leaving behind the days of its adolescence. It has shed its old framework to hold different values and meanings instead. This is the sense reinforced by the submissions we received and awarded in the Manga Division of 2020.