All the works that were short-listed for this year's prizes were excellent and rich in content, through which I reconfirmed my belief that manga culture had taken root in Japan. The works encompassed a wide range of genres, and there was a full array of themes and expression forms. Witnessing "from instantaneous artwork to philosophy," my favorite phrase I use whenever I talk about manga, and looking back on the history of manga in Japan, my heart was filled with deep emotion. However, at the same time, the enormous variety of these works added to my worries about on what criteria to evaluate and select them. Probably, I think other jury members had the same concerns. However, at the final selection meeting, I remember that all members said in chorus that every work was interesting to read. After all, we had no other choice but to select on the following criteria: "How much we could empathize with the content;" "which one was most convincing;" and "which one was most interesting."
The Grand Prize winner Kajimunugatai -Battle of Okinawa- contained something substantially interesting as a drama despite its heavy and gloomy theme. Picture expressions also conformed to the theme. The Prize for Excellence winner Helter Skelter well conveys hard-pressed feelings of heroines. I wish the author to quickly restore her health. Among excellent works with doctor theme, Tenjin-san, a well-balanced work without one-sided use of medical terms, stood out as a solid work worth seeing as a drama. "Mushishi" produces a world where we can listen to music that enables us to appreciate profundity of space and time. Baka Shitei (Stupid Sister And Brother) impressed me with the author's versatile expression skills. At first sight, it looks like one of popular character series, but actually, I think it contains universality. I have a hunch that Junkissa Nokoribi will establish a new genre of manga on current events.
Team Medical Dragon, Battlefield G Heaven's Door, Chabudai Kenta, and Encounter that fell just one step short of the prize, as well as a submitted work of "TSUMEKIRI -MONOGATARI" all were hard to give up. I strongly recommend that you read them when you have a chance to.
Born in Osaka. She received the first Kodansha Award for New Manga Artist with PIA NO SHOZO when she was still in high school. In 1974, she was presented a Kodansha Shuppan-Bunka-Sho for ASHITA KAGAYAKU and HIMEGA IKU! Major works: ASUNAROZAKA; AIJINTACHI; ARIES NO OTOMETACHI; GIRISHA SHINWA; and many others. Currently working on an illustrated book, TENJO NO NIJI, which depicts the world of MANYOSYU. Professor of the Character Creative Arts Department at OsakaUniversity of Arts, and Executive Director of Manga Japan.
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