16th Manga Division Excellence Award

Mashiro no Oto (Sound of Snow White)

RAGAWA Marimo [Japan]


SAWAMURA Setsu is a Tsugarujamisen player who travels from Aomori to Tokyo with the threestringed instrument on his back. After the death of his grandfather, who was also his teacher, Setsu is unsure what sor t of sound to pursue on his own. This leads him to embark on a journey in search of musical direction, during which he encounters a variety of people. With this work RAGAWA Marimo, a driving force in the world of girls’ manga, has made her f i rst big splash in boys’ comics. Having declared that she always wanted to explore the world of the Tsugaru-jamisen.

Reason for Award

This work is a fully realized portrait of the Tsugaru-jamisen (a three-stringed musical instrument from the Aomori region) via the soundless medium of manga. It not only displays a highly accomplished technique and inventive style of expression, but also seems to succeed precisely because of its silent form. Rather than sound, the work conveys the impressions and emotions that arise out of music. Thus it is a moving experience to read the work itself as it strives to approach the experience of listening to an actual performance. Moreover, while making use of the clichéd “competition” motif that is prevalent in boys’ comics, the story’s portrayal of characters struggling to attain higher levels of musical prowess resonates with the work’s own attempts to achieve a high level of expression in the manga genre.