19th Manga Division Excellence Award
Awajima hyakkei (A Hundred Scenes of AWAJIMA)
SHIMURA Takako [Japan]
This omnibus adolescent drama is about a group of young girls who all attend a “girls-only musical school”, recounting the formidable years they shared, at times shifting between different characters’ viewpoints and time. Awajima Musical School Training Camp, dubbed the “boarding house”, is where young girls gather from all over Japan to perform on stage: TABATA Wakana aspires to be a musical star; housemaster TAKEHARA Kinue attends to carry on her best friend’s wishes; beautiful OKABE Emi is a scholarship student always at the center of attention; and IBUKI Katsurako who became a teacher at the school though originally from a family of actresses. The unique environment of the musical school is simultaneously a respite space for these aspiring girls and also a harsh battleground that pits young students against each other. It is a place where perseverance can lead to blossoming talents, but also to a cruel reality at times. The clarity of depiction and psychological portrayal allows the subtle inner workings of each character to come through.
Reason for Award
SHIMURA Takako is the “artist of our time”. Her other works were also considered during the judging process, and votes were often split as all were high in quality. Consequently, Awajima hyakkei (A Hundred Scenes of AWAJIMA) was selected for the tranquil beauty of its drawings and intricacies of the literary composition.
Different narrators comprise this omnibus of short stories, situated in a musical school modeled after Takarazuka. This work transcends time and the so-called “ensemble cast” in cinema whereby multiple narratives intermingle in a scene. There are bold abbreviations between frames and scenes, and readers are forced to decipher what happens in the gaps. Perhaps, this is why we are left with impressions as if reading literature. I look forward to the day the totality and history of the musical school, arguably the real main subject, is unveiled as the short stories continue. (SUGAYA Mitsuru)