16th Manga Division New Face Award
Sennen Mannen Ringo no Ko (Apple Children of Aeon)
TANAKA Ai [Japan]
This work is set in the Showa era during the mid-1960s and early ’70s. Yukinojo, the protagonist, was abandoned on the grounds of a Tokyo temple soon after his birth. He meets and mar r ies Asahi , the daughter of an Aomori apple farmer, and after being adopted into her family, moves to the deep, snowcovered apple country of northern Japan. Far from the social turmoil of the period, Yukinojo lives a quiet family life that warms his heart and fills the void of never having known his parents. But one winter everything changes when he brings his wife, who has fallen ill, a forbidden apple. Reviving a rite that should have died out some 60 years earlier, Asahi becomes the consort of a local deity known as Obosuna-sama. Delicately yet boldly, with richly expressive touches, this continuing series depicts villagers who hold fast to the traditional customs they have inherited, and the natural environment of a bygone Japan.
Reason for Award
The stories in TANAKA Ai’s 2011 book-length manga debut, Chijo wa Pocket no Naka no Niwa (The Land Is a Garden in Your Pocket), gave vivid form to the interconnectedness of life. In this first volume of her new novel-length series, the setting is an apple-growing village in the snowy north. Even as she depicts a healthy world of apple trees and glorious blossoms, she skillfully interweaves a tale of forbidden fruit when the husband and wife at the center of the story violate a local taboo. In this insular village environment newcomers are greeted with consternation, yet people are also capable of accepting taboos as a natural part of their world. Such mysteries of the human heart fill the entire work with the bright tones of a “hymn to life” that makes the reader look forward to the sequel. The author’s sure hand and powerful voice in this, her first full-length work, merit the highest praise.