24th Manga Division New Face Award
Swingin’ Dragon Tiger Boogie
One night in Fukui during an air raid in WW2, young SUWA Oto sees her jazz-loving older sister, Ineko, dance to bassist ODAJIMA Tatsuji’s music. Ineko later attempts suicide by drowning, and though rescued, is by war’s end a shell of the sister who taught Oto to sing, and ODAJIMA disappears. To reunite the two, Oto, now a student, carries her sister’s bass across her back to Tokyo. When Oto’s singing catches the attention of a troupe, she plays on a US military base and learns the troupe’s bassist is ODAJIMA himself, but without his memories. The artist passionately illustrates the fears, ambitions, and relationships of Japanese and American characters navigating postwar Japan, where a young girl bursts onto the entertainment scene at the dawn of a new era.
The art style is not particularly fresh and the story is conventional, but Swingin’ Dragon Tiger Boogie was the only work among those listed that I purchased after the committee review. Why? This manga makes sound. I physically feel it, and I wanted more. The setting and characters are well-crafted, but more than anything, the artist’s hand has served as a conduit for the sound traveling from the heart and body to the reader. A masterwork where readers can feel the depth of manga’s expression. (NISHI Keiko)