Award-winning Works
Manga Division

Grand Prize

Excellence Award

Social Impact Award

New Face Award

Jury Selections


  • OMOTE Tomoyuki
    Researcher, Kitakyushu Manga Museum
    Japan Media Arts Festival Continues to Change
    If media arts are destined to continue changing their nature as media evolves, then the Japan Media Arts Festival must also regularly upgrade itself. The newly established Social Impact Award should be given to works that not only deserve to be widely read, but also have the kind of impact that can change manga and society from its foundation. After careful consideration, the judges' committee made the unanimous decision to give this award to MANABE Shohei's Yamikin Ushijimakun (Ushijima the Loan Shark). The author exposed the lurid realities of Japanese society through his exhaustive interviews to gather material, as well as the skilled narration that conveys a dry humor even while relating dark incidents, all of which is unprecedented. Reading it changes one's way of looking at the world, making it the perfect recipient for this award. The assumption that manga are for children belongs to the distant past, and for a long time now the majority of Japan's manga market has been made up of works aimed at adolescents and adults, and this is true whether the genre is targeted for men or women. We have also seen an increase in the number of manga that expose the dark side of society and life, and shake up the reader's sense of values. This might not always be comfortable, but it is first-class entertainment and precisely what gives manga such depth as a mode of expression. All of this is quite clear in the lineup of award-winning works this year. From among the jury's selections, I would particularly like to mention KISS - Kyojin sora wo tobu (KISS - A Madman Flies in the Sky). It was written by ARAI Hideki, whose Miyamoto kara kimi e (Miyamoto), a representative work from among his initial manga, has recently been made into a live-action film generating a great deal of excitement. ARAI's works always stomp on the more tender areas of readers' hearts and are quite challenging for this reason. It makes for an extremely uncomfortable reading experience, but the author's words and pictures are so beautiful that all one can do is sigh during the ordeal. In this work, ARAI uses pencils and pastels to dazzle the reader with a mix of reality and illusion. I highly recommend reading this.Manga awards have certainly increased since the Japan Media Arts Festival was first launched. So, then,
  • KAWAHARA Kazuko
    Manga Essayist
    From Pureness to Darkness
    This is my second year on the jury, and the number of entries fell by over 200 from the previous year to a total of 666. The 126 works that cleared the preliminary selection by the Selection Members, however, were all of high quality. I faced my task of reading these works with delight, as well as a heavy sense of responsibility in evaluating them. Robo sapiensu zenshi (Prehistory of Robo Sapiens), which won the Grand Prize, presented a story evolving over a long period of time with intricate illustrations, resulting in a impressively high degree of perfection. Bikacho shinshi kaikoroku (Memoirs of Amorous Gentlemen) addresses the essence of sexual desire with a stylish layout that truly sparkles. DOUBLE, the story of two actors struggling to break their ties, has an impressive ability to draw the reader in, and even though this was the first in the series, it won the high praise of all jury members to earn the Excellence Award. The masterpiece The Arab of the Future A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984, an autobiographical manga written by a French manga artist, and Ashitashinuniwa, (To Die Tomorrow,), which sensitively depicts the turmoil of a woman in her 40s, fills out this group of works that won the Excellence Award, all being impressive manga boasting a variety of themes and expression. There is no other. combines exquisite drawing with a plot development that surprises its readers by being completely unexpected, which ends up making them laugh. The vibrant descriptions in hana to hoho (Flower and Cheek) cleverly depict emotional upheaval, and have the kind of freshness one would expect to see in the winner of the New Faces Award. If You Become an Adult is a highly sophisticated work that has been well thought-out. It is precisely this kind of work that the Japan Media Arts Festival, which welcomes self-published works and manga from dojinshi (self published comics), can duly recognize with an award. It is somewhat sad that we had entries like this amazing work, and yet the total number of entries in the Manga Division fell significantly from that of the previous year. I think we must do more to let people know about this valuable award. The new Social Impact Award was won by Yamikin Ushijimakun (Ushijima the Loan Shark), a long-running manga series that depicted the darkness of an era.
  • KURATA Yoshimi
    Manga Artist and Professor, Otemae University
    The Big Bang Comes to the World of Manga!!
    All of these manga entries were quite intriguing. It was particularly difficult to select the most successful works from the pool of manga that had already been chosen. I read the prize candidates thinking to myself, "Good art is just plain good!" After I finished reading them, I realized that I have been reading manga continuously for nearly 60 years, and they have never stopped changing. In particular I want to mention Vincent. This work's interplay between the deformed character and van Gogh's paintings was amazing. We cannot overlook the skillfulness in the translation, either. I think that it is largely due to the translator that Van Gogh's pleasures as well as his struggles are both conveyed to the reader, through a very smooth reading. It made me want to visit the museum again so that I could enjoy another viewing of van Gogh paintings. I referred to the way manga are changing, rather than evolving, because there are so many of them that were written 10, 20 and even 50 years ago but remain interesting when read today. Manga from the past normally become obsolete, but some of the earlier works continue to inform those of present-day in terms of story construction, division of frames, the design of their composition, and the shape of their speech balloons. The elements that compose manga have changed in so many ways over the long stretch of years. I particularly sensed changes in setting when I read the current entries for these awards. These works were set in a wide range of settings that transcended time, where its distance couldn't even be measured. Among these works of such diverse settings, I was particularly drawn to those that I could easily relate to, and that pulled me into their worlds. The authors of such works exercised their great ingenuity to draw in the reader. All of the works that made it through the final screening brought the reader into their world through innovative techniques. The differences between the manga that won the Grand Prize and the Excellence Award, or between those that won the Excellence Award and the Jury's Selections, were remarkably minimal; none of the selections was made by unanimous decision. The jury members gave their opinions on each work and their final decisions were made based on consensus among the members. Listening to the opinions of the other members during the jury session, I agreed with some of what they said, and also gained new insight thanks to the views of members whose different perspectives led to contrasting interpretations. The works that I read for this competition all had unique pen strokes and stories. This is natural, and one of the features of manga. Judging works that manga artists put all of their passion into creating was difficult but also very enjoyable. Manga are truly captivating works of art.
  • SHIRAI Yumiko
    Manga Artist
    “Now,” and on to New Frontiers
    A striking number of manga dealing with artificial intelligence and robots have won awards many times now. I think the reason for this is that, with so many of them winning awards, manga concerning these topics are able to directly engage with universal dilemmas such as "What are humans?" and "How should humans conduct their lives." That said, these manga are all surprisingly different from one another. They each take a theme to its extreme through different approaches. For example, AI no idennshi (Gene of AI) by YAMADA Kyuri, winner of the 21st Excellence Award, creates a detailed simulation of a very real near-future society. ORIGIN by Boichi, winner of the 22nd Grand Prize, is also a manga squarely in the entertainment genre but underpinned by philosophical questions and scientific issues. This year's winner as well, Robo sapiensu zenshi (Prehistory of Robo Sapiens), depicts robots as a new human species in an allegorical style. There is a good chance that technology for AI and robots will be updated on a nearly daily basis, and that our common assumptions will be constantly overturned. However, together with the famous works that started with Astro Boy, those celebrated as manga document our present and, at the same time, are remembered as works with deep messages that resonate in all eras. Manga that confront issues in women's lives, such as Ashitashinuniwa, (To Die Tomorrow,), which realistically depicts the subtleties of aging, and Bikacho shinshi kaikoroku (Memoirs of Amorous Gentlemen), the story of a prostitute who faces herself and gains independence by writing, also really stood out for me. If You Become an Adult, which was published at the author's own expense, is not only an interesting story, but is also very much of its time in that it attracted attention through social media, rather than in the dojinshi comic market. The elaborate design for the paper used in this book also makes this manga unique. It gave me an impression of the unique nature of the present moment, while providing what I see as a legacy of manga in book form at the same time. This year the Japan Media Arts Festival added a Social Impact Award to its roster of prizes. This means that we can now recognize works effecting broad repercussions that result in a major impact on society, that awards up until now have not been able to identify. The fact that the first work to receive this award was Yamikin Ushijima-kun (Ushijima the Loan Shark), which addresses the illegal business of collecting on loans made by black-market lenders, really demonstrates the clout of manga. The Japan Media Arts Festival increased the number of winners of the U-18 Award, but unfortunately there were no works suitable for this prize in the Manga Division. I think that young people are working particularly hard in the manga genre, and I hope they will begin to pursue this award going forward. As in the past two years, several works among the Jury's Selections were in deep contention for the prizes. Once the mangas reach this level, all of them are without question highly original and it is difficult to say which is better. In the end, the jury's decision was based on very meager considerations. I highly recommend that readers explore any manga that appeals to them. I have served on the jury committee three times now, and this will be the last year for me. This opportunity has given me the chance to experience the wide world of manga that I would not normally have explored, and I learned so much as a manga artist myself. The authors came from a variety of countries and employed a wide range of media. Some entries dealt perceptively with social issues, others with a light touch that made my heart want to dance, and then there were also those that sank deep into my heart. Manga are wide-ranging, however, and the experience of reading one differs for each individual, all of which adds up to its unique value in each respective reading. That sense of excitement one has when reading a vertically scrolling manga in an app, waiting for the next episode to be uploaded, feeling the warmth that emanates from the delightful images--especially when contrasted with the serious comments on one's social media timelines--all have an appeal that cannot be fully recognized when reading them in book form. At this very moment, manga in a wide range of formats that we may not even be aware of are probably being created in places we are unfamiliar with, and read in surroundings we can't even imagine. I believe that these extraordinary manga that are opening up new possibilities are due to be recognized at this Japan Media Arts Festival.
  • NISHI Keiko
    Manga Artist
    The End of a Long Distrust
    I was particularly struck by three works: Robo sapiensu zenshi (Prehistory of Robo Sapiens) by SHIMADA Toranosuke, which won the Grand Prize; hana to hoho (Flower and Cheek) by ITOI Kei, for which I wrote the critique when it won a New Faces Award; and WAYAMA Yama's There is no other. also a New Faces Award winner. These works made me sense the possible demise of strategic design, but they also conveyed an elementary trust between people - in this case between author and reader. I am not sure if they were written without any strategic design, but the works that I wanted to recommend were those that held something different from just a "wellconstructed" one. I believe what I was feeling was plain joy in the realization that the artist trusted me, the reader. I am a working manga artist, and yet I had lost sight of this very issue. Being a commercial author for a long time can incur a lack of faith in the reader at the basis of our work in some way. While this can lead to innovation and variation, after reading the works I just mentioned it really made me sense that this distrust ends up being a dead-end for us. The way in which works written with trust in the reader can effortlessly exceed any strategic design fills me with pure delight. Advances in communication can facilitate our living in an isolated state where we can nevertheless remain connected, and I think that this trust is what we truly desire at our innermost core--the subtlety of a handshake rather than routing applause. Works like this show us what we've really always wanted. I have a feeling that when we look back at this year, we'll realize that this was a turning point