21st Manga Division Critiques
Virtually as Good as a Bouquet of 100 Flowers
Simple life forms come into being on Earth. They under- go tremendous evolution, progress, and transformation, until all of a sudden there is an enormous number of living things on this planet that seem totally different, and you are shocked to think that these life forms at some point shared the same ancestor. We members of the Manga Division jury got a taste of a very similar experience to this sense of confusion that the scholars of the theory of evolution might have felt. I was deeply impressed by the over 1,000 submissions that crossed my desk.Each year brings groups of manga offering new ideas in new genres. This year in particular I was seized by feelings of doubt--can we really call all of these submis- sions "manga"? Around two years ago, I felt that paper manga evaluation criteria had broken down and the border between manga and animation was becoming obscure. On the other hand, old-school works depicted with simple lines will never die out. Today, with anyone being able to use a computer to draw and publish their own work on the Internet, we are in an era where the line between professional and amateur has become meaningless. Where will manga go from here? At the very least, I myself am at a loss to predict anything. That being said, the works that caught the jury members' at- tention (from out of the chaos) floated up magnificently, and were worthy of being selected for the 21st Japan Media Arts Festival. I am confident and greatly pleased that the manga submissions selected after surviving the screening process are outstanding works indeed.IKEBE Aoi's elite abilities as a manga artist were dis- played as she won the Grand Prize for Nee, Mama (My dear, mom), and another of her works, Zassoutachi yo taishi wo idake (Ambitious Ordinary Girls), was a Jury Selection. The calm sensations produced somewhat "Japanese" illustration style set her ahead of the rest of the pack. IZU Toru, author of Excellence Award win- ner Ulna at the Emplacement is another capable artist who had been an award candidate many times in the past. This feature-length story always keeps the reader guessing as to where it is leading; it is science fiction, and yet it has an oddly realistic quality. The tale earned its award by grandly pumping up the jury's expecta- tions.