Some people may be surprised that the Manga Division Grand Prize was awarded not to a just-published Japanese work but to Les Cités Obscures, which first appeared in France in the mid-1980s. They should be more surprised, however, that this series has not been available to Japanese readers until now. Another, newer bande dessinée (Francophone manga), Muchacho, also won an Excellence Award. Contributing largely to these choices is the gradual proliferation in Japan in recent years of overseas manga published in translation. In a sense, then, these awards are a shout-out to the people who have translated, published, distributed, and otherwise treasured these works in a country that has traditionally been unreceptive to foreign comics. Excellence Award winner Gaku, Minna no Yama is marvelous for its positive outlook on mountains, people, and life. Through the fabricated bodies of its characters, GUNSLINGER GIRL -- a tour-de-force of manga drawing -- compels us to contemplate the possibilities of the physical body as well as of fictional media. And I hope that Mashiro no Oto, which opens our eyes to the world of musical expression, continues its sprint to the serialization finish line in such splendid fashion. Koori no Te, Siberia Yokuryuu-ki conveys the horror and injustice of internment precisely because it is written and drawn in such a detached manner. Though OZAWA Yuki is not a newcomer, she truly merits the New Face Award for this groundbreaking work. Emerging artists TANAKA Ai and SINZO Keigo will surely break new ground, too, in manga and perhaps other media. It has been a great pleasure to be involved in giving awards to all these artists. I am especially happy to have been par t y to the choice of KONAGAI Nobumasa as recipient of the Special Achievement Award. He amply deserves this honor for his contributions of many years, not only to manga but to the publishing industry as a whole, through his work in girls' manga and his leadership at Hakusensha. If manga are themselves a world-class cultural asset, then he has contributed to world culture as well.
YAMADA made her debut as a manga writer in commercial publications in 1998 with her article "Who Does the 'Year 24 Group' Refer to?" in Comic Box magazine. Starting with her earliest temp job at the Kawasaki City Museum, she has been involved for over 20 years in manga exhibition, acquisition and preservation. In 2008 she directed the Japanese adaptation of the exhibition *Shojo Manga! Girl Power! *, which had toured nine venues in North America. In recent years she has frequently interviewed or emceed roundtables of such prominent shojo-manga artists as HAGIO Moto, YAMAGISHI Ryoko, and IKEDA Riyoko. Since 2009 she has been a director of the Japan Society for Studies in Cartoon and Comics. She is also on the staff of the Yoshihiro Yonezawa Memorial Library of Manga and Subcultures at Meiji University.
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