25th Manga Division Excellence Award
The Concierge at Hokkyoku Department Store
“All kinds of animals, including ones that are a bit unfamiliar, visit the department store where I work.” Akino is a new concierge at the Hokkyoku Department Store, where all customers are animals. This is a series of short stories, portraying Akino’s growth as she learns about the mentality of being a concierge through her job. At this unusual department store with human clerks and animal customers, extinct animals come to consult with the concierges about items they are looking for or problems they have. As Akino tactfully solves the problems of the customers with a smile, her sincerity gradually softens difficult customers. Combining a job-themed genre with an animal manga element, this work features beautiful graphics. Its artistic details are also attractive, including the customers’ outfits in the glamorous department store and the Art Deco style interior of the store. Behind the story lies a critical eye toward issues such as our mass consumption society and environmental destruction, and the work stimulates the readers’ thoughts.
Reason for Award
This humorous story with a unique taste is drawn according to a fantastic worldview. Animals (some extinct ones) visit the department store—a symbol of arrogant overconsumption of humans—as customers. The enchanting drawing style appears to pay homage to picture book author Edward GOREY. His line drawing style is fascinating. The strength of artist NISHIMURA Tuchika is that he doesn’t draw an animal to only have a cute appearance, but gives each animal a strong identity, presenting a personality as unique as that of a human. Such animals remain in the reader’s memory, and reading the entire story is strangely comforting. It is a heartwarming but also sometimes heartbreaking experience. By empathizing with the animal characters when reading this work, readers will be aware of the environmental destruction caused by overconsumption. (Jessica BAUWENS-SUGIMOTO)