16th Manga Division Excellence Award
Gaku, Minnna no Yama (Peaks, Everyone’s Mountains)
ISHIZUKA Shinnichi [Japan]
As a mountain-rescue volunteer, SHIMAZAKI Sanpo is a man who has scaled the world’s peaks and is well acquainted wi th the rigors, joys, and splendor of mountains. Many alpinists make their way up mountain trails in the hope of reaching a summit in Japan’s Northern Alps, where Sanpo lives. With comments like “You really hung in there!” and “Make sure you come again!”, he cheers up the climbers as they head back to everyday life. And by helping them renew their love of the mountains, Sanpo inspires them to return. Spending his days with others who have fallen under the mountains’ spell, he lives his life among his beloved peaks. To ensure that those who love the mountains don’t succumb to some unfortunate mishap there, Sanpo dashes back and forth across the ridges day after day. Depicting the ultimate mountaineer, this story marks a new peak in the alpine manga genre.
Reason for Award
This mountain-rescue story centers on a young man named Shimazaki Sanpo, an experienced alpinist who has scaled peaks all over the world. It depicts the anguish and joy of climbing a steep slope, and the breathtaking views and sense of liberation one experiences upon reaching the summit. Conveying the splendor and rigor of mountain climbing is difficult in a manga. It requires the technical ability to portray nature, and realistic depictions of physical movement are a daunting challenge. This work was quickly recognized as part of a long lineage of monumental mountain-climbing tales that includes MURAKAMI Motoka’s Climber’s Saga, and Summit of the Gods, written by YUMEMAKURA Baku and drawn by TANIGUCHI Jiro. As suggested by the line “You really hung in there!”, which Sanpo often says to the victims of an accident, he affectionately embraces each climber’s way of dealing with the mountains (whether under tragic circumstances, or those that end happily with a rescue). The work leaves us with the feeling that we are being fondly embraced by the mountains themselves. In awarding this prize, the jury singled out the work’s comprehensive power in consistently maintaining a high standard as it leads to a satisfactory conclusion.