16th Manga Division Excellence Award
Translation: OONISHI Aiko [France / Japan]
This work is set in 1976 in the Central American nation of Nicaragua, which is ruled at the time by a dictatorial regime. Gabriel, a young monk who is in charge of painting frescos in a church, discovers the hidden beauty that lies beneath the surface of things, and after coming into contact with poor villagers and antigovernment guerrillas, he decides to devote his life to the revolution. The story chronicles the coming of age of a young man who is struggling to survive in troubled times. With its themes of art, love, and revolution, Muchacho is a tale of passion depicted through the complex and checkered fate of a young monk. The artist, Emmanuel LEPAGE, has created a work about universal themes that he imbues with intense, honest emotions by drawing on his gifts as an artist and his rich sense of humanity. Not only is the work deeply moving, it urges us to give more thought to subjects like love and political participation.
Reason for Award
Together with the freshness and excellence of its pictures, this work imbues the manga format with a narrative approach and speedy pace that are well suited to contemporary life. Along with the urgency of its revolutionary theme, the work leaves the reader with a desolate feeling as time seems to flow in another dimension even after the manga is over. A subtext is the growth process through which a boy becomes a man. The work deals in a natural way with homosexuality in the context of war (a state of emergency), and successfully instills in the reader a sense of how human emotions change in extreme situations. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that this signals a new direction in European manga. With two European works receiving prizes in this year’s competition, it is a pleasure to see how expansive and interconnected the manga world has become.