19th Manga Division Critiques
This Year’s Characteristics and the Future Prospects
It is a very joyous thing to see that the number of applications is increasing every year. This year, close to 1000 applied, and I looked forward to reading all of them. However, I was worried evaluations would be inconsistent as there were many pieces comprised of multiple volumes to go through the vast quantity of works under constrained time. I believe the jury members were able to help each other as we thoroughly exchanged opinions and referenced each other's impressions.
Alas, it is human who decides after all. Our preferences are very divisive. Though some works had to be dropped regrettably under one's assessment of the situation, it was interesting to see how one can observe this year's increasingly elucidated characteristic. First of all, the number of online manga and self-published manga decreased dramatically. Perhaps this decrease was due to the fact that last year had multiple works submitted by the same artist. Even as the applications from self-published manga decreased, the quality was extremely high and excited us the jurors. This year, self-published manga were no longer a collection made by those who couldn't be professionals, but a gathering of artistic and literary works that commercial publications would have difficulties handling! I read them with great affection, as I was overwhelmed by their liberated imagination and creativity. On the other hand, the direction of online manga has a tumultuous road ahead. I have high hopes for online manga as the new media of the future, but also recognize the problem with judging the hardcopy manga and online manga together under the same scale. As many professional works begin as a book, which then gets converted to digital versions, there are no reasons to differentiate between paper and digital. Some works were indiscernible if done by a professional or an amateur, and contributed to the overall low quality of online manga. Having said that, there were certainly some works that would not have been possible on paper. It is the reality, however, that there are very little leeway to consider the future prospects manifested in prototypes that may be experimental or in research phase, since some jurors demand high quality only from paper manga. Though I may be a juror, I have not forgotten my soul as a manga artist; I dream the possible futures and jump onto works if they are simply interesting, not just because of narrative construction or technical levels. I have greater anticipations for manga that will surpass the paper version.