24th Manga Division New Face Award
SORATOBU KUJIRA (A Flying Whale): SUZUKI, Suzuhiro Works
A collection of the artist’s six commercially published works. “KIMURA sensei” depicts the back-and-forth between an easygoing teacher and a high school girl concerned about her path after graduation. “TRAINSPOTTING” follows a cracker-barrel high school train nerd to Tokyo. “KIDS RETURN” spins a tale about a little girl going home after class and embarking on a little adventure instead. The titular “SORATOBU KUJIRA” (A Flying Whale) portrays two families: a university professor who ensnares others in a plan to bring a beloved daughter’s dream to life, and a married couple who see each other anew through their work. In each story, characters of varying ages and genders meet and experience subtle shifts in feeling or action. A unique touch emphasizes the details in the lines and weaves delicate stories.
The collection is composed of charming illustrations and short stories with various premises. At different times heartwarming and unnerving, the stories illustrate a page from the lives of characters experiencing unforgettable encounters. Each character has their life and own way of living, and it helps that their lovable, unique characteristics are appropriately expressed. There are no earth-shattering inciting incidents here, but the realistic depiction of the characters makes their encounters feel critical. I hope the artist continues to put those plentiful life experiences and warmhearted people-watching skills to use in future projects. (SHIMAMOTO Kazuhiko)