Award-winning Works
Manga Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • MURAKAMI Tomohiko
    Professor, Kobe Shoin Women's University
    A diverse collection of work and high hopes for those from overseas
    With the addition of the New Face Award, the finalists were even more varied this year than in the past. Saturn Apartments, which reached its brilliant conclusion this year, and HIMITSU THE TOP SECRET, now fast approaching its climax -- each was often among the finalists in previous years -- garnered wide support and were finally honored with the Grand Prize and Excellence Award. On the other hand, new arrivals that made powerful entrances like I, Mamagoto and Sunny each had vocal advocates, but for now we must await future developments. How to determine when to evaluate story manga, which often become long-running serials, is a perpetual dilemma. Ano-hi kara no Manga (Manga after 3.11) -- which sublimates through idiosyncratic expression the artist's own anxiety about the impact of the nuclear power plant accident that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake -- expressed feelings that were shared by many manga artists but only glimpsed in other entries. That foreign works received the Excellence Award for the first time -- and not just one but two -- seems a symbolic result for a year that saw rapid growth in the publication of foreign manga in translation. Meanwhile, distinct from the high quality of the work itself, L'INCAL by Moebius, the master of the French comic BD, raised the question of what it might mean to honor it anew given that the original was completed in 1988 and already enjoys an established reputation. There are many fine works around the world that have yet to be translated. How the Japan Media Arts Festival should regard such works is surely an issue for the future.Among new artists, I pushed for Jigoku... Ochisomeshi Yarodomo, by fanzine artist Tsuchika Nishimura, WORKING KENTAUROS by EST EM, and Blood diver Ringo and Fishbowl head man by Yoichi Abe, all of which I found appealing for their newcomer brazenness.
    Manga Artist and Manga Researcher
    The difficulty of choosing from among works of uniformly high quality
    This was my first experience being on the side of the jury. I am certain I was a burden to my fellow jury members and the staff, and wish first to offer them my apologies.
    As one would expect, the works that remained for the final screening were all outstanding. To tell the truth there were none that I wanted to drop. It was difficult to bid farewell to works like MOON, perhaps the most highly evolved ballet manga ever written by a male author; Space Brothers, with its superbly timed humor; the majestic epic Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin; and Shingeki no Kyojin, which exuded the greatest sense of mystery among the monster manga in spite of its somewhat crude touch. But the work I pushed for the hardest was Mamagoto. I've had my eye on the author since she debuted with Kaoru no Hiwa and although it pained me much to think she would go uncrowned, her work's true power is hard to see in a single volume and so leaves me looking forward to next year and beyond.
    Meanwhile, Excellence Award-winner HIMITSU THE TOP SEACRET was flawless and garnered nearly unanimous support as a candidate to receive the Grand Prize. That the author is already so famous, however, may have inspired a root-for-the-underdog sympathy that tilted the scales in favor of the lesser-known Saturn Apartments, the upset winner of the Grand Prize. As a member of the jury I am ashamed to admit that I had neglected to read Saturn Apartments prior to its candidacy, but I found it to be a fine piece of work full of clever ideas.
    I am also deeply moved that two works from overseas have received awards. Fun Home -A Family Tragicomic-, in particular, made me think again about where comics began and how they have evolved. Among the New Face Award-winners, THE ADVENTURES OF NAKAYOSHI CREW drew broad support while the others were all bunched up a step back. In the end it was Magemon., whose author is relatively established for a newcomer, took the day. There is more I'd like to write but I'm all out of space....
  • HOSOGAYA Atsushi
    Associate Professor, Tokyo Polytechnic University
    A collection of works that invites reflection on humanity’s direction
    The historical epics that had jockeyed for top position the last few years disappeared this time to reveal a new trend. Grand Prize-winner Saturn Apartments is science fiction, but its ultra-analog depiction of the texture of everyday life in a space colony and the warm bonds between the people there seem to show a solid, if futuristic, step forward for humankind. Together with Excellence Award-winner Anohi kara no Manga (Manga after 3.11), which directly confronts the recent earthquake and nuclear power plant accident, it also makes us think again about the nearly inseparable relationship between people and place. HIMITSU THE TOP SECRET also addresses the issue of people and memory, and in this sense those three works inspired a serious meditation on how we humans will live in the future.
    Yet perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this year's awards was the inclusion among the finalists of so many foreign mangas in translation. Many tackled topics also addressed in Japanese manga -- aging in Arrugas / el Faro and gender in Fun Home -A Family Tragicomic--- but from a distinctly Western perspective rarely adopted by Japanese artists. There were many discoveries, and I hope publishers persevere in digging up excellent works from around the world. It is interesting that the newly inaugurated New Face Award went to three works with such distinct and individual styles: traditional stories of human nature set in Edo, the experimental approach of a dojinshi artist, and a surprisingly simple yet evocative work created for the web.
    With regard to digital manga published in media other than paper, there still appears to be no flood of distinctive new works. People like city councilor and graphic designers who are not manga professional are putting up a good fight, however, which suggests a breadth of amateur talent.
  • TAKEMIYA Keiko
    Manga Artist / Professor, Kyoto Seika University
    Expressions that transcend boundaries with other fields
    I also served on the jury for editions 6, 7, 8, and 9 of the Japan Media Arts Festival. Things have changed completely since then and I was taken aback by the tremendous diversity. The development of new media has led to a growing number of web-based manga that cover a broad spectrum of publication styles and expressive methods.
    There was quite a bit of unevenness in the initial screening after value judgments made by selection committee members, but a thorough review of individual criteria during the course of jury meetings ultimately led, through a series of votes, to a final selection. L'INCAL by Mœbius (completed in 1988) has already earned a certain measure of acclaim; given that its submission this year was occasioned by the much-delayed publication of the entire story in Japan, it was dropped from the list of finalists during the selection process.
    The Grand Prize-winning Saturn Apartments picked up votes from the very beginning.The near-future premise of the work seems plausible, and the creativity and persuasiveness with which it connects to people's everyday consciousness deserves applause. The author's ability to spin together a truly realistic tale of small-bore emotion in a science fiction setting without becoming overbearing suggests a bright future. Two entries from overseas---Fun Home -A Family Tragicomic- and Arrugas / el Faro---were selected for the Excellence Award. Fun Home, in particular, has a literary power that transcends comics, and in adopting the comics format has blurred its boundaries with other genres. HIMITSU THE TOP SECRET, the work of a highly regarded veteran, maintained a firm hold on its position all the way through to the final selection. Among New Face Award winners, the web-based Mustard-Chocolate has created something convincing in the smooth process of clicking through frames one-by-one.
  • SAITO Chiho
    Manga Artist
    The latest in manga and the future of the ever-changing Japan Media Arts Festival
    What perspective did the manga division adopt toward the screening process?
    In the last few years, manga have become a means of expression no longer constrained by a given media format.In addition to serialized works in commercial magazines, this year's entries covered a wide range of other formats. Some could be read only on mobile phones or the web, while others were published in fanzines. The environment for manga has been changing at a dizzying pace. I try to take this as a given when screening works.

    What trends did you see in the content of the works?
    During the initial selection of candidate works I could feel the enormous influence of the Great East Japan Earthquake.With such an abrupt change in the mood of the world it is only natural that people would seek something different in manga,but immediately after the earthquake many manga artists--myself included --shrank back and struggled to find the motivation to draw anything. In this sense, Kotobuki Shiriagari's Ano-hi kara no Manga (Manga after 3.11) was really something else in the way it immediately tackled the earthquake head-on. Although we do have editors and assistants, manga--unlike animation and entertainment projects--are at root a form of expression undertaken alone. Changes in the artist's mentality and environment over time are directly reflected in the work. Many of the works selected this year were written prior to the earthquake so the impact is not so conspicuous, but if the way artists look at life has really changed I would expect to see this reflected in their work going forward.

    Which award - winning work sparticularly drew your interest?
    Grand Prize-winner Saturn Apartments, of course, but I also think Fun Home -A Family Tragicomic- is worth mentioning. Although taking the format of an autobiography, the work is extraordinarily realistic, packed with pedantic sections not directly related to the story and other information about the American social context. At first glance much of this may seem out of place for manga, but it simply represents a novelistic approach that differs from the cinematic approach still dominant in Japan. In terms of readability it takes a little getting used to, but creates a truly one-of-a-kind manga space.
    I was also surprised by Tomoko Fuyukawa's Mustard -Chocolate, the first web manga to win an award at the Japan Media Arts Festival. Conventional manga have been defined by a panel layout optimized for magazines, but this work has a completely different feel and presumes that the reader will scroll through one panel at a time. Nevertheless, this does nothing to diminish its dramatic effect. This work really embodies the potential for creating manga without being bound to conventional panel layouts. Mobile phones and manga, as tools, share an element of portability that I suppose makes them a good match.
    Mustard-Chocolate was the only web manga to win an award, but every year brings more and more web and fanzine manga entries. Unbound by the limitations of paper and print, full-color presentation is the norm and some works even incorporate sound and other interactive elements. I suppose it will be important to figure out how to evaluate such works going forward.

    What do you think sets the Japan Media Arts Festival Awards apart?
    In terms of the manga division, I think a lot of it is about giving a shout out to the award-winners. There are numerous manga awards--the major publishers sponsor many of the largest--and a lot of manga artists win awards. But the Japan Media Arts Festival Awards are different in that they step away from the manga industry establishment to offer something with more freedom, an important opportunity, for example, to shine a spotlight on works that aren't carried in the major manga magazines, or on artists who have not yet been honored with awards.
    The character of the festival today, however, will surely change over time because the composition of the jury will gradually shift as each member serves out his or her three-year term. One thing that is certain, however, is that the festival offers a chance to regular people as well as professional manga artists. The festival covers fanzines and web-based works, and there are no publisher-based boundaries. No other manga award is this all-encompassing. At the same time, it may be too diverse--those of us on the jury have to struggle each year just to keep up (laughs).

    In closing, is there anything you'd like to say to those who visit the exhibition?
    For Japan, the field of media arts has become a huge industry, one in which Japan can lead the world, as well as a huge cultural domain. For manga and animation, in particular, Japan has consistently been at the forefront. The Japan Media Arts Festival exhibition stands at the front lines of this exciting creative force that reaches all corners of the world. I hope those who visit the exhibition will be able to experience that momentum and power for themselves. It is a whirling vortex in which art, manga, animation, and entertainment all influence each other and develop into something new.