24th Manga Division Critiques
Works Brimming with Confidence Resonate with the Soul
Manga and comics are methods of expression with a high degree of freedom. Equipped with the content needing expressing and the skills (and tools) to illustrate it, an artist may draw up new modes of expression previously not considered. As a fellow artist in the manga industry, I've learned much from evaluating such works. All of the submissions that made it to the lists are bubbling over with confidence and get to the core of their content from surprising angles. Some of these submissions have long been serialized and familiarized to the public, a train I'm embarrassed to say I seem to have missed. Each one takes the shape of its creator's mind and carries a message. Those I appreciate the most, I appreciate not only as finished pieces but as explorations of new horizons. I'm awestruck when I encounter methods of expression I, given the same blank sheet of paper (or digital document), had never thought to employ. Manga is mostly a lonely endeavor (and the artist's thoughts are reflected in the work more directly than in other genres), so nothing comes out perfectly, but the labor is intensive and draining, and artists cannot craft their works without chipping away at hours of their lives. And whether the completed work will resonate with readers is up to the readers. A number of this year's submissions used this same theme as a motif, but incoherently hurling diatribes onto the page does not make a refined work. Because the conflict with the theme is a personal endeavor, what stands apart (especially with numerous works with the same theme on the lineup) is how the artists confront their problems, how they overcome what needed overcoming. The production time of manga as a medium, hours of the artist's life, is astounding, but hours spent on the craft increasingly refine the craft itself (although there is something to be said for the charm of a newcomer's frayed edges). I hope artists continue to hone their skills, explore still uncharted frontiers, and discover new stories. I get the feeling, after 2020, there will be more themes to explore.