18th Manga Division Excellence Award
A Chinese Life
LI Kunwu / Philippe ÔTIÉ / Translation: NOJIMA Tsuyoshi [China / France / Japan]
This is a work in which a manga artist born and raised in China has returned to the frenzied and tumultuous age through which he has lived. LI grew up in the middle of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. The figure of an “ordinary” young patriot charging onward, and the enthusiasm of China at the time are conveyed with a sense of realism. What impression did the sudden changes brought on by phenomenal economic growth have on the young LI? He survived through an age in which being alive itself was already dramatic. In this work, which invites empathy in the reader for LI as a living human being, we see a different side to China, more commonly known for its achievement of rapid development, in the portrayal of a country that has been through confusion and anguish. In coming to know the age in which they lived, we are brought to feel a greater familiarity with the country of China, and the Chinese people.
Reason for Award
Reading this work, I was reminded of the time I joined the First China-Japan Comic Exchange Convention in 2000. Regulations regarding expression were strict, weapons or blood that appeared in works were whitened out, and it was not with the Chinese manga artists that exchange occurred but rather the painters. There were many films taking the theme of people’s liberation movements or the Great Cultural Revolution, but the content of this work, told from the viewpoint of an individual, was of great interest. The story and the structure of the pages have been perfected, and even among the overseas entries it is very easy to read, allowing one to gently slip into the story. The drawing technique also employs pens not used by Japanese manga artists. Drawn using a brush or a bamboo pen similar to those used by manga artists in the past, the artwork amply conveys strength and at the same time a remote feeling of warmth and nostalgia. I was strongly drawn to this work for its depiction, with a high quality composition and technique, of the lives of ordinary Chinese people about which little can be known. (INUKI Kanako)