Award-winning Works
Manga Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

Social Impact Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • SHIMAMOTO Kazuhiko
    Manga Artist and CEO, Aibic Co., Ltd.
    Excellent, Attractive Perspective in the Present Era
    The expansion of the base of manga seems apparent. The techniques of manga, as well as of many
    other forms of expression and arts, always continue
    to evolve with the times. Some entries seemed to me
    that they were aiming for the height of expression, while
    many others surprised me by using familiar subjects as
    a theme.
    About 50 years ago, weekly magazines were exclusively occupied by big-name manga artists, and
    I hopelessly thought “I have no talent or ability good
    enough to join them,” feeling hard-pressed because
    “one can’t be a professional without drawing skills like
    them.” Today, with more flexible approaches available
    in terms of theme and expression, the times are more
    kind to artists aspiring to publish their works. Numerous works, almost too many to search, are available for
    reference. There are endless past bestsellers to read.
    In fact, we live in a world where “we already have a lifelong manga supply without getting new ones.” Even so,
    we still need “new manga reflecting this era.” Being
    up-to-date is extremely important for the manga genre—
    the work quality depends on how well it depicts the
    current time.
    The entries of the Japan Media Arts Festival are hard
    to evaluate since their target readership and age group
    are unclear, but this in turn makes the themes of the
    entries diverse far beyond what one can imagine. Some
    works overwhelm readers with their powerful drawings,
    some are impressively well researched even though demand for such works is doubtful, some simply depict a
    melancholic reality, and some are lighthearted fictions
    that readers wish to become true. In all of these works, a
    fresh perspective of the “current” time is important, and
    I saw a variety of such standpoints this time. In order to
    present an excellent perspective, I think accumulated
    skills, momentary determination, and of course, “generosity to harness people power” are essential.
  • SAITO Tamaki
    Psychiatrist / Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tsukuba / Critic
    Japanese Manga Goes beyond Sturgeonʼs Law
    Even as a manga freak, I braced myself for the pain
    of reading so many entries for judging, but I ended up
    being exhilarated like an ant that’s fallen into a sugar
    pot. What surprised me was the high quality of the entries—every entry was excellent, including the almost
    unknown ones. There were only three ratings based
    on my criteria: “interesting,” “very interesting,” and
    “extremely interesting.” Sturgeon’s law, stating “ninety
    percent of everything is crap,” doesn’t seem to apply
    to modern Japanese manga. I don’t mean that now is
    the golden era, but rather, the evolution of manga will
    continue. I was convinced of this when I saw the entries
    this year.
    The Grand Prize winner, Golden Raspberry by
    MOCHIDA Aki, instantly carries away readers with
    its particularly unique characters and powerful and
    speedy story development. Maintaining the identity of
    the girl’s manga genre, it also appeals to male readers. The Excellence Award winner, The Concierge at
    Hokkyoku Department Store by NISHIMURA Tsuchika,
    consists of extremely fine drawings, comparable to
    those by TAKANO Fumiko, with an eccentric story of
    a department store where extinct animals come to
    shop. Another Excellence Award winner, THE BEST
    portrays the previously unrevealed postwar history of
    Vietnamese refugees, along with the history of a family.
    It illustrates a lower-case world of “family” that is often
    hidden behind the capitalized term, “Refugee,” in a very
    realistic manner. The Social Impact Award winner, ONNA NO SONO NO HOSHI by WAYAMA Yama, doesn’t
    need much explanation. In a world of a women’s high
    school, drawn in a style resembling that of ITO Junji,
    peaceful days with only good girls unroll without bullying or teasing. But why does this work generate such
    disturbing laughter? The impact of the appearance of
    WAYAMA Yama will likely persist for a while.
  • OZAWA Yuki
    Manga Artist
    Power to Sense, Take in, and Amplify Changes
    Manga is entertainment that mirrors social conditions.
    Participating in judging for the first time, I was surprised
    anew by how many works are sensitively and flexibly
    integrating the social conditions, and how the creators
    keep their eyes open.
    Gender-related works have remarkably evolved over
    the past few years, and stories that are more open to
    diverse genders and different forms of love are shaped
    into a form of drama. The homosexuality-themed Jury
    Selections—HEARTSTOPPER, depicting the exhilaration of love, and Kaijuni natta gei (A gay man who turned
    into a monster) in which aggravated mental trauma goes
    out of control—appeal to everyone with common emotions and win the readers’ hearts.
    The Grand Prize winner, Golden Raspberry, exquisitely crafted a delightful story about the changing
    positions of men and women. The Social Impact Award
    winner, ONNA NO SONO NO HOSHI, presents a unique
    sense of high school girls who stay away from romance
    yet maintain glamour, striking a chord for many readers.
    Portraying the evanescence of “extinct” animal characters, The Concierge at Hokkyoku Department Store
    produces an uplift feeling with a lovely taste as if opening a beautiful wrapping paper. THE BEST WE COULD
    DO: AN ILLUSTRATED MEMOIR, a record of exile from
    Vietnam, vividly reveals the psychological changes of a
    family. DEAD DEAD DEMON’S DEDEDEDE DESTRUCTION appears as if it is placed at the tip of the sharpest
    antenna. It is realized with almost obsession-like drawings, from the vastness of the overlooking world to the
    slight changes within mankind.
    The New Face Award winner, Rolling Siblings,
    comically and splendidly depicts the fact that human
    relationships are established based on affinity, on the
    premise that they don’t mesh. Manga offers a clear answer to a complex problem that arises in life. Manga
    culture is said to be declining, yet new buds of comic
    culture are sprouting in response to the ever-changing
    world. I am certain of its strong vitality and potential.
  • KURATA Yoshimi
    Manga Artist and Professor, Otemae University
    Manga Reflecting the Times
    My first thought when I saw the entries was that this
    year’s judging was going to be tough. It was like when
    all the 100m-sprint runners cross the finish line within
    0.1 second. All entries were of such high quality that
    it made the selection extremely hard. With a coffee
    mug on my desk, I started reading through the entries
    in order.
    After reading for a while, I wondered, “Are there
    more analog works this year? No, this one appears to
    be analog but it’s actually digital, isn’t it?” Distinguishing analog and digital works had been easy until last
    year, but this year, it was hard to tell the difference. Why
    is that? I halted reading to solve this mystery. By comparing several works, I figured it out. Most of the digital
    works were processed to resemble an analog style.
    Do readers of Japanese manga prefer analog, handdrawn looking pictures? I continued thinking about
    that in the midst of the judging process. In Japan, a
    great number of manga has been placed on the market over a long period of time, through rental manga at
    first, then serial publication in monthly magazines and
    in weekly magazines. These manga manuscripts were
    hand-drawn, before the prevalence of digital devices
    for facilitating drawing. Therefore, long-time readers of
    hand-drawn manga might feel more comfortable reading hand-drawn ones. Manga artists might have thought
    the same and employed the analog style, in order to
    convey their messages in a more readable manner.
    When looking at the entries again, it seemed to me
    that there were more analog-style manga, with less of a
    digital look, than there used to be. As I resumed reading, I began to think that this may be associated with
    the storylines. The number of fantasy or otherworldly
    stories was clearly smaller than before, and manga
    stories taking place in a real or realistic world were
    dominant. Analog and digital, and the real world and
    another world—there might be some kind of relationship
    between them. Different drawing techniques might be
    suitable for portraying different worlds, such as analog
    drawing for the real world and digital drawing for another world. Soft lines of analog drawing surely enhance
    a realistic feel, while digital processing adds unrealistic effects. Analog and digital techniques are perhaps
    effective in guiding readers into different worlds. One
    possibility from the viewpoint of a manga artist is that
    manga artists are often artistically inclined, so they tend
    to challenge themselves to draw analog-looking pictures by using digital tools. Anyway, manga artists are
    doing their best to usher readers into their world.
    Meanwhile, there are changes in manga storylines
    as well. The story structure itself remains mostly the
    same, but it seems to me that characters are becoming genderless. They are not male or female, or even
    human, but just one character acting in a magazine or
    on screen. This may be another reason for readers to
    feel comfortable reading. I think the social situation may
    have contributed to this.
    Thus, the entries this year became different from
    those in the previous years, not majorly but surely.
    Manga artists are going through changes and new artists are emerging rapidly. In addition to printed media,
    manga works are published online, and some are only
    digitally distributed. Manga will continue to evolve by
    repeatedly going through various changes. The world is
    also changing. No one knows how manga will change
    while responding to the times ahead of us. Nevertheless, I hope we will see many works that will contribute
    to a better future and a brighter world.
    Associate Professor, Department of Intercultural Communication, Faculty of International Studies, Ryukoku University
    Infinite Diversity of Manga Expressions
    During the unfortunate year of the COVID-19 pandemic,
    I read more manga than usual due to several stay-athome orders. However, what I read was certainly limited
    to those that suit my own tastes, range of interests, and
    research areas. Serving on the jury this time was a great
    opportunity for me to reset my rather stiffened “view of
    manga,” thanks to the applicants. I am honored to see
    so many excellent works from Japan and abroad.
    Diverse story settings and storylines, a wide range
    of drawing styles, and high artistic quality—I was excited that so many engrossing works exist. After reading
    the entries, however, this in turn caused serious distress
    in the judging process when I had to select only a few
    from such a wide variety of works. The entries were
    carefully evaluated through consultation with the other
    four jury members. I am fully convinced by the results,
    even though opinions were somewhat divided.
    I hope many people will read the Award-winning
    Works and the Jury Selections, and discover new manga. The Jury Selections are all interesting and drawn
    in unique styles, including those with a completely fictional theme, and those addressing social issues such
    as the pandemic, solitary death, sexual harassment,
    child abuse, and hoarder houses. Even though social
    issues are covered, the works are not preachy but enlightening, and can be enjoyed in many different ways,
    as documentaries or entertainment. As an educator, I
    would like to read some of them with my students.