19th Manga Division Excellence Award
Kikai jikake no ai (Machinework Love)
GODA Yoshiie [Japan]
An omnibus of various fables that unfolds all over the near-future world with robots having an emotive function similar to a “soul”. The stories develop around robots that serve humans, such as: Petrobo, a girl abandoned by her master, decides to go find her “mother” as she traces the memories of love she once felt; Kaigo-robo Hirosawa-san (Nurse Robot Hirosawasan) depicts the anguish of a nurse robot that gains freedom according to the will left by the deceased owner. Rick no omoide (Rick’s Memory) follows a butler robot that ventures out to fulfill a promise with his master who entrusted him with a memory.
These robots are programmed to perform simple tasks, such as vending machine robots all over the city or a detective robot that loves reading, and speak to humans through their pure “function”. The artist, known for working with the themes of “meaning of life” and “eternality of human thoughts”, questions “what is human?” and “what is the ‘soul’?” through these robots.
Reason for Award
Although there have been many manga about robots, most of them were for children. Typically, robots do not possess souls. We arbitrarily project diverse emotions onto robots even though they have no feelings. This work seems orthodox at first in terms of the depiction and story. An easy to read as it ably adheres to the fundamentals of manga through its composition and structure. Additionally, the flawless drawing technique is telling of the artist’s professional skills.
Each story tells us about a robot with certain destiny and the eventual fate of waiting for someone to become its master. We learn through this work that the real miracle occurs when these emotionless robots gain their souls, when we are able to love them in return.
This is a superb masterpiece for grown-ups. A gentle, moving story with the elements of sorrow, love, and darkness expressed through robots without resorting to eccentricities. (INUKI Kanako)