22nd Manga Division Critiques

The Joys of Manga and of Talking about Manga

I served as a jury member for the first time this year. The selection members with expert knowledge narrowed the selection from the 878 submissions down to 234. From these, it was our job to pick the award winners. I stretched myself to face the challenge. In the two meet- ings we had, I felt very impressed by the others' incisive comments and agonized over how best to communi- cate my thoughts on the merits of certain pieces. It was an experience that gave me a fresh reminder of how fascinating manga is--as is talking about it. The selec- tion that we made through such a process, I believe, demonstrates the diversity of today's manga.ORIGIN won high praises across the board. To dusk portrays the pathos of life with rich affect. Nagi's Long Vacation uses adorable images to offer a keen depiction of todays' 30-ish woman. Spacebattleship Tiramisu, which has a serious drawing style but ridiculously comi- cal stories, helped relax our tension-filled discussions. The Invisible Difference is brilliant in its use of stylish drawings and its color schemes matching the charac- ter's inner world. The intensity of KIIROI ENBAN (Yellow Disk) blew me away.In MOMO & MANJI, a rich knowledge about the Edo culture is elevated through the artist's drawings into a form of entertainment in the genre of boys' love (BL), which has had a rich history of being cherished by (mostly) women readers. I feel it profoundly moving to be able to recognize this work that has blossomed greatly within this genre. And it is through BL comics that a 75-year-old woman and a high school girl develop a friendship in metamorphose no engawa. I was deeply touched by the portrayal of subtle struggles and joys of having something in common to share with somebody.I also want to mention MADGERMANES, which eas- ily drew me in despite my original expectation of it being a difficult read, and Warera Contactee, about a group of individuals in a small corner of the world struggling to launch a rocket. These did not win but were in a close competition for the awards.

Manga Essayist
Born in 1968 in Hiroshima Prefecture and raised in Fukuoka Prefecture. KAWAHARA worked as a preschool teacher, in the PR department of anime studio Gainax, and at other jobs before turning freelance. Now, she writes essays and provides commentary about manga. She wrote Jinsei no taisetsu na koto ha omune, manga ga oshiete kureta (Everything I Know, I Learned from Manga) [NTT Publishing, 2009]. Her major columns include Ren'ai no otehon ha, itsumo shojo manga (Girls' Manga Was My Model for Love) for the women's website SmartWoman (currently Nikkei WOMAN [Nikkei Inc.]) in 2005, and the manga commentary columns Kore yomazu ni nani wo yomu? (Well, What Should I Read, Then?) [2007-2014] and Manga koso dokusho da! (Manga Is Reading!) [2015-2019] for the web magazine Webnttpub. [NTT Publishing]. KAWAHARA has contributed essays to publications such as Sotokushu MIHARA Jun (Full Review of Jun MIHARA) [Kawade Shobo Shinsha, 2015]. She was a contributing editor and writer for the book entitled IKEDA Riyoko no sekai (The Wonderful World of Riyoko IKEDA) [Asahi Shimbun Publications, 2012]. She was a symposium panelist at the 10th Conference of the Japan Society for Studies in Cartoons and Comics in 2010, and has served as a guest lecturer at Tokyo Polytechnic University and Tokyo University of the Arts.