11th Manga Division Encouragement Prize
SHIRAI Yumiko [Japan]
An independent manga set in a certain time which depicts an exchange between a lieutenant of steeplejacks and a girl. Lieutenant MANAKA employed a girl, KIJIMA Saki, who has no family she can depend on. After having learned a trade, some change occurred to her. What is the reality concealed in a festival? And the fate of the two?
Reason for Award
One day, the nation was stricken by a “dirty war;” a toxic agent called “Fukashi” was scattered all over the country and remained even after the war ended. This is a story about people who try to cleanse the toxin through the use of young bamboo sprouts, which absorb it. They have an indigenous traditional festival based on a myth, where a girl has to be sacrificed as “Kushinada-hime” (whom “Yamatano-orochi,” the mythical eight headed serpent, fell in love with at first sight). The short-lived, but intense, love story between a girl who has been chosen as a sacrifice and a young steeplejack master, who tries to prevent the girl from being sacrificed, has a good old black and white film like atmosphere, which was a thrill for me after such a long time. We can see the artist’s keen talent in his depiction of the serpent slowly emerging from the midst of an assembled bamboo structure, or from a cleft in the earth; we can see it in the presentation of each character, their original composition, and the calm expressions in their eyes. As this work was created by a minor self-publisher, I hope that awarding it this prize will encourage other young manga artists who are in a similar situation.