18th Manga Division Grand Prize
Goshiki no fune (The Five-colored Boat)
KONDO Youko / Original author: TSUHARA Yasumi [Japan]
TSUHARA Yasumi’s fantasy masterpiece has been turned into a dreamlike, but vivid manga at the hands of KONDO Youko. Set to the backdrop of the last years of the Pacific War, at a time when the future is uncertain, it depicts the wistful fate of a troupe of deformed performers who make their living by a freak show. The five main characters consist of Yukinosuke, a former itinerant performer who lost his legs to gangrene, Shosuke, a dwarf who possesses Herculean strength, Sakura, once a conjoined twin who has lived as a “snake woman” since her operation, Kiyoko, whose twisted knees resulting from a joint disorder led her to become a “cow woman”, and Kazuo, a young boy without arms. Inhabiting an old boat, they live together as if a family. One day, Yukinosuke hears rumors of a monster named Kudan who can predict the future, and so, intending to take it in as one of their own, they trip to Iwakuni. Kudan is already requisitioned by the army, but Kazuo’s eyes meet with the monster’s, and he begins to see a recurring dream of the troupe’s union and separation. Kazuo is convinced it is the work of Kudan… KONDO has even tried to create a manga of TSUHARA’s original story already considered difficult at the time of its publication, and complete the miraculous work.
Reason for Award
KONDO Youko, who has steadily continued to publish wonderful works over a number of years, has again brought into the world whatcan confidently be called an “extraordinary manga adaption”. A group of five, including a former star actor who played female roles but whose legs were amputated due to illness, a girl who was once a conjoined twin, and a young boy with no arms and so on, form a freak show troupe. Amid the confusion of wartime, they take a trail to purchase a cow with a human face called Kudan. The story is set in Hiroshima, in a science fiction-like parallel world… That this work, which form only this simple explanation makes one sense the difficulty of its publication, has been brought into the world is an achievement of TSUHARA Yasumi, its original author. And it is KONDO Youko’s achievement to have taken on the challenge of visualizing a story, whose author had already prepared for its rejection at the time of publication. We cannot help but admire KONDO’s sincerity and creativity when she addressed issues. This masterpiece, praised unanimously by its readers for its beauty in staunchly portraying the cruelty concealed in the world while at the same time providing the humor and courage to live, compels us to give something back. (YAMADA Tomoko)