Award-winning Works
Manga Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • YAMADA Tomoko
    Manga Researcher
    Shout-Out to Marvelous Manga from Around the World
    Some people may be surprised that the Manga Division Grand Prize was awarded not to a just-published Japanese work but to Les Cités Obscures, which first appeared in France in the mid-1980s. They should be more surprised, however, that this series has not been available to Japanese readers until now. Another, newer bande dessinée (Francophone manga), Muchacho, also won an Excellence Award. Contributing largely to these choices is the gradual proliferation in Japan in recent years of overseas manga published in translation. In a sense, then, these awards are a shout-out to the people who have translated, published, distributed, and otherwise treasured these works in a country that has traditionally been unreceptive to foreign comics. Excellence Award winner Gaku, Minna no Yama is marvelous for its positive outlook on mountains, people, and life. Through the fabricated bodies of its characters, GUNSLINGER GIRL -- a tour-de-force of manga drawing -- compels us to contemplate the possibilities of the physical body as well as of fictional media. And I hope that Mashiro no Oto, which opens our eyes to the world of musical expression, continues its sprint to the serialization finish line in such splendid fashion.  Koori no Te, Siberia Yokuryuu-ki conveys the horror and injustice of internment precisely because it is written and drawn in such a detached manner. Though OZAWA Yuki is not a newcomer, she truly merits the New Face Award for this groundbreaking work. Emerging artists TANAKA Ai and SINZO Keigo will surely break new ground, too, in manga and perhaps other media. It has been a great pleasure to be involved in giving awards to all these artists.  I am especially happy to have been par t y to the choice of KONAGAI Nobumasa as recipient of the Special Achievement Award. He amply deserves this honor for his contributions of many years, not only to manga but to the publishing industry as a whole, through his work in girls' manga and his leadership at Hakusensha. If manga are themselves a world-class cultural asset, then he has contributed to world culture as well.
    Manga Artist and Manga Researcher
    Internationalization, Media Diversification, and the Power of Manga
    While there was a plethora of excellent manga submitted this year, there was no one work that prompted a unanimous response. This led to a split jury and a string of works that failed to capture an Excellence Award by only one vote. I think some major reasons for this were marked increases in the internationalization of the entries, the diversification of media, and inter-generational value differences. Every time I read a work, I felt obliged to realign the coordinates in my brain before contending with the next one. Every work seemed to teem with a power that defied the usual judging criteria of visual impact, compositional excellence, and appealing characters.
    The Grand Prize was selected with almost no dissent, and the Excellence and New Face Award recipients were all eminently deserving, but I was particularly impressed by three: RAGAWA Marimo's Mashiro no Oto, which made excellent use of the Tsugaru dialect; Emmanuel LEPAGE's Muchacho, which best satisfied the above three criteria; and OZAWA Yuki's Koori no Te, SiberiaYokuryuu-ki, for its wholehearted dedication on every level. There were also works such as Nico NICHOLSON's Nagasare-ru Ietate-ru, with its lifesize portrayal of the experiences of Tohoku earthquake victims; Hebizo and UMINO Nagiko's Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo, which made readers laugh while contributing to international understanding; ARAKAWA Hiromu's Hyakusho Kizoku, with its powerful depiction of indigenous culture; educational manga master ASARI Yoshitoh's MANGA SCIENCE; the overwhelming power of ASADA Jiro and NAGAYASU Takumi's Mibu Gishi Den; EGUCHI Natsumi's HOZUKI NO REITETSU, brimming with impudent ennui and youthful verve; MATSUDA Hiroko's Mamagoto, which could easily have won the Grand Prize; CHIKAZAWA Chuya's wholly unpredictable Yogensha PIPPI; Usa-kun's amusing Mako Chan Enikki, recommendation of which seemed to require strong theoretical arguments; and YAMAKAWA Naoto's Cho Ko Do Shujin, which broke new ground in the medium... But I should also mention YOSHIZAKI Seimu's Kingyoya Kosyoten, OKADAYA Tetsuzoh's Hirahira ~Kuniyoshi Ichimon Ukiyotan~, KONO Fumiyo's boorupen KOJIKI, MATSUMOTO Taiyo's Sunny... All the manga on this list amply deserve recognition by the Japan Media Arts Festival.
  • TAKEMIYA Keiko
    Manga Artist / Professor, Kyoto Seika University
    Japanese Submissions: Somewhat Disappointing
    There was a dearth of outstanding manga from Japan in this year's screenings, making selection a difficult task. One reason may be that many manga publishers try to conserve their artists' best work and avoid participation in such competitions. On the other hand, entries from Europe, America, and other parts of the world continue to grow, as do submissions of web-based manga. I am all for seeing more unorthodox or daringly ambitious manga; besides, even if the number of Japanese entries declines, the stated purview of our manga awards is "manga from around the world," and that in itself makes these awards significant. Even with differences in the conditions for manga in every country -- the evolution of the genre, the fertility of the environment, and so on -- we should be able to compare them on the level of their inherent meaning.
    From that perspective it is fitting that we pay our respects to a masterpiece from overseas by awarding this year's Grand Prize to Benoît PEETERS and François SCHUITEN's Les Cités Obscures, a bande dessinée that was translated into Japanese. Indeed, we could hardly not give this great work a prize.In the process of selecting the Excellence Award recipients, jurors inevitably nominated different candidates, which we then sought to justify through detailed arguments, leading to repeated votes before we reached a final consensus. The difficulty lay not with the choices, but the competing wills of the jurors. It was the same with the New Face Awards, but in any event we were able to talk things out until everyone was satisfied with each choice. The resulting selection is, I think, a well-rounded one. A work that stands out for me is Emmanuel LEPAGE's Muchacho, with a handling of picture frames and a velocity that may herald a new style for BDs. SINZO Keigo's Bokura no FUNKA-sai (Our "Eruption" Festival) offered a back-to-manga-basics kind of pleasure, while RAGAWA Marimo's Mashi ro no Oto (Sound of Snow White) evinced a spiritual approach to the depth and power of sounds as only a manga devoid of actual sound can do. Finally, the charming viewpoint of AIDA Yu's GUNSLINGER GIRL was an example of what makes Japanese manga at once powerful and risky: the appeal of the ambiguous.
  • SAITO Nobuhiko
    Editor and Manga Researcher
    The Fascination of Manga – Generated Time and Space
    This is my first year as a Manga Division juror. As someone who has never given or received a prize in his life, I hesitated to accept the appointment, but hearing that I would be the first editor to serve on the jury, I vowed to give it my best shot. The final screening was the scene of fierce and lengthy debates over the best of the works selected in the first screening. I found this a bit unnerving, but was also impressed by the organic dynamism of this process by which various unrelated individuals pass judgment on the works of artists.
    The award-winning Mashiro no Oto is a story of emerging talent (as is, in part, Muchacho). Many manga of this genre follow the template set by spo-kon, the "sports-spirit" manga epitomized by KAJIWARA Ikki and KAWASAKI Noboru's Star of the Giants, in which a hidden talent is born, revealed, and challenged by rivals, struggles and setbacks. The present work follows this format, but in a very sophisticated way (the "Shamisen Koshien" tournament being a good example).
    Four works -- Muchacho, Gaku, Minna no Yama, GUNSLINGER GIRL, and Koori no Te, Siberia Yokuryuu-ki -- are tales of life on the edge, but their variegated approaches to handling time and space are cause for surprise. Sennen Mannen Ringo no Ko depicts the wonderment and preciousness of a limited space, and Bokura no FUNKA-sai those of a limited time (the period until high-school graduation). While working within the manga-magazine framework and its insistence on pushing characters (their actions and appeal) to the forefront, these works present an enchanting space-time continuum with their intense yet free approach to both story and frame layout.
    An enchanting space-time is also a major virtue of the internationally-renowned Les Cités Obscures, the first entry that received a prize by unanimous consensus of the jury. The journey of the series itself has a romantic appeal: an epic that has spent years constructing imaginary cities and countries is finally translated into Japanese and compiled into a hardcover volume with its own special aura. Though my priority was to evaluate the content of the works, I also thought, that it would be nice if the 40-odd winners (including the Jury Selections) proved to represent the full breadth of manga in Japan today. I believe this has turned out to be the case.
  • ITO Go
    Manga Critic and Associate Professor, Tokyo Polytechnic University
    Awards for the First Two Decades of 21st-Century Manga
    Two works that won the Excellence Award -- AIDA Yu's GUNSLINGER GIRL and ISHIZUKA Shinichi's Peaks, Everyone's Mountains -- made their debut in the first decade of the 2000s and took about ten years to complete. I was very happy about these choices because I thought they reflected a proper appreciation of two works that represent the best of Japanese manga of that decade in the way they inherited the mantle of postwar story manga while at the same time critiquing the genre.
    The awarding of prizes to two works from overseas will no doubt attract notice. In particular, the Grand Prize for Benoît PEETERS and François SCHUITEN's Les Cités Obscures, a work that has already enjoyed worldwide acclaim, may well provoke reactions like "Why now?" On the other hand, we should not forget that until recently, there was a strong tendency to treat "manga" as a peculiarly Japanese phenomenon, and the Franco-Belgian bande dessinée as something different from the domestic product. That bias, however, has rapidly waned of late, indicative perhaps of a change in how the Japanese market and readers themselves define manga. The award selections this time clearly reflect this trend.
    With regard to domestic manga, meanwhile, the jury tried very hard to avoid any bias toward specific formats. This should be clear from the lineup of the Jury Selections, which may be seen as a response to the diversification of manga publishing formats. But I would also like to point out that the jurors shared a determination not to overlook such genres as educational manga and gag manga, which tended to get short shrift in the past.
    Another factor was the ongoing shift in format from magazines to electronic media. It is worth noting that one of the Jury Selections, YAMAUCHI Yasunobu's Daily Lives of High School Boys, was submitted in the category of "web-published manga that can be read on computers or mobile devices." Having gone on to sell 100,000 copies and spin off an animated TV series, this work is a successful example of the model by which a serial manga is posted for free viewing on the web, then monetized through compilation into printed books. It certainly epitomizes a business model for Japanese manga in the digital era.