23rd Manga Division New Face Award
If You Become an Adult
ITO Atsushi [Japan]
The author, ITO Atsushi, is a graphic designer who spent five years, during intervals of his regular job, working on this manga as a birthday present for his children. His manga is a rather unusual, yet heartwarming work about what it means to become an adult. On a winter day in 1988, a man suddenly happens upon a hole that has opened up in the air. After a series of twists and turns, he flies up to this space and there sees the whole world of 2020 spread out before him. The hole links the worlds of the past and future. Ito mixes in a homage to the movies, novels, music, design, art, and manga that have influenced him thus far and scatters them throughout the background of the entire story. The gentle tempo created by a certain touch reminiscent of the early days of manga is soothing.
The drawings are somewhat stoic, formed by a minimum number of lines that remind the reader of a pictogram. Ito does not restrict himself to Japanese manga norms, which dictate that the reader proceed from the top right to the bottom left of the page. Instead, he has created a tricky structure that depicts several interchanging timeframes that play with the reader’s gaze by jumping around. Together with a well-crafted format and binding, the style evinces that of some ingenious artistry that one expects to find in a foreign market. Recalling that Ito works as a graphic designer and wrote this manga as a gift for his son and daughter, I am led to wonder why it is that people write stories and create books. This manga is a breath of fresh air that makes me contemplate book origins, and would be a wonderful gift for anyone who loves books. (OMOTE Tomoyuki)