Starting with the Grand Prize-winner Goshiki no fune, six of the award-winning works Harukaze no sunegurachika, Hitsuji no ki, Dobugawa, Chi-chan wa chotto tarinai, and Ai o kurae!! (A Chinese Life might also be included) depict people we feel pity for, or who are in positions very different from the norm. And yet, there was no prior intention to do this. Manga is a medium sensitive to the currents of the world. The selected works are no different, and so it is with a slight feeling of apprehension that I sense the manga artists preparing for tougher days ahead in the trial-and-error approach they take in their stories.
However, all the works truly try to show us means of living in the face of situations that would otherwise make one feel helpless. They make you feel from different angles that, even in what may at first seem to be a terrible disaster, new paths may reveal themselves provided there is a readiness to hold on and live with determination. I don't, of course, want to invite negative feelings about what lies ahead. However, if I were at the mercy of a situation in which I were helpless to do anything, would I be able to live as boldly as the characters in these stories? It is my hope that I would.
I am especially pleased that Goshiki no fune won the Grand Prize. Even among KONDO's numerous masterpieces, it is a really wonderful work. Whenever you read Aoi honoo, your shoulders relax as you laugh at the intensely thoughtful main character "overdoing it". Through it, you feel the power for life that springs from laughter. The TV drama version, made by a director who loves the original, was also a success. Special Achievement Award-winner ONO Kosei, who for many years suppor ted the overseas comics that have been booming of late, is surely a man of special achievement.
This year again, starting with the works I have mentioned here, I have gained much from coming into contact with a great many works rich in content. I feel embarrassed that I still have no idea how to return it.
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