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Manga Division

Excellence Award


KUMOTA Haruko(Japan)


Set in the Showa-era, this manga splendidly depicts adorable rakugo storytellers together with compli- cated human relationships. The story begins with the start of a bi- zarre and funny cohabitation in the house of a solitary rakugo master, Yurakutei-Yakumo. Yotaroh, who was released from jail, begs Yaku- mo to accept him as his pupil and moves into his house. Konatsu, the daughter of the late Yakumo’s great friend, Sukeroku (who used to be called the “greatest master” in the rakugo world) also lives there. She has been raised by Ya- kumo since her father’s death. Interesting points of this work are the reason why Yakumo suddenly accepted Yotaroh as his very first apprentice, a mysterious story be- hind Konatsu’s bitter hatred for Yakumo and the flashback scenes in which Yakumo and Sukeroku had been steeping themselves in rakugo. In addition to an amazing depiction of each character, the highest point of this work is the rakugo scenes which give you such a sense of being there that you feel tingles up your spine.

Reason for Award

Very few manga works about raku- go have succeeded so far. If you explain each rakugo story by means of pictures, it just seems old-fashioned, while conveying the rakugo world is senseless and awkward. It is extremely difficult to depict rakugo, the art of storytell- ing, by manga, which is another art of storytelling. However, I had a gut feeling that perhaps this work would be successful..., as soon as I saw the cover of the first volume – an elderly storyteller with a brooding look against a plain black background. There is a candle next to the quiet, unattractive man, which is modestly painted with a vermillion color typical of Japanese candles. I think this reflects his austere elegance, coolness, sexual charms, and even the path he would had taken in the past. I also think that’s exactly what other “rakugo mangas” have failed to depict.
Although KUMOTA’s specialty genre is “Boys’ Love”, I’m sure that SHOUWA GENROKU RAKUGO SHINJU will become one of her best-known works. The reserved character, Yakumo, modeled on Sanyutei-Ensho VI (a renowned rakugo storyteller), is brilliant. (MINAMOTO Taro)


Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru

ISHIGURO Masakazu(Japan)


Hotori Arashiyama is a high school girl living in the Maruko shopping area, a working-class district in To- kyo. The work depicts the everyday life of the residents of that area, who seem ordinary at first – but on closer inspection, reveal their oddi- ties. Hotori, a well-known girl in the Maruko area, she plays many roles in her life: a slightly unreliable sister, a maid at a local coffee shop called “Seaside” and a high-school girl who wants to be a detective. The latter helps her to figure out diffi- cult-to-solve incidents during her part-time job. Along with these slapstick stories, this work features various comedies, including a strange story told by Kon-senpai who is Hotori’s older best friend, and an episode about Hotori’s younger brother, Takeru, and his girlfriend Ebi-chan. The series is published in the form of standalone episodes with more than a hundred installments being published in magazines and twelve comic books. Readers can enjoy a wide range of styles from an SF-like story to a tear-jerker drama which depicts old-fashioned “duty and sentiment”.

Reason for Award

ISHIGURO places a high value on a sense of wonder. He has por- trayed various “wonders”, – the frustrations and outbursts of youth in Nemuru Baka (Sleeping Idiot), the interests in investigation and construction shown in Gaitenrou, and the subtleties of family and human interactions depicted in KyokoandHerDad.Inadditionto these, his other works such as SF short stories filled with mind- boggling ideas and the bitingly humorous Mokuyoubi no Frutto (Frutto on Thursday) have been highly rated, but Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru (The Town Keeps Moving) which has been serialized since 2005 displays all of ISHIGU- RO’s strengths and is definitely his masterpiece. This work has proven that a manga can convey drama, happy daily lives and connection with people without depicting any dramatic or personal traumatic in- cidents. All jury members highly valued this work’s realization of the “pursuit of cheerfulness”, which I would describe as “heliotropism” (meaning flowers which turn towards the sun), also seen in the works of FUJIKO F. Fujio and CHIBA Tetsuya, and provides entertaining episodes with high level contents every in- stallment. (SAITO Nobuhiko)



MOCHIZUKI Minetaro / Original author: YAMAMOTO Shugoro(Japan)


MOCHIZUKI presents a new inter- pretation of YAMAMOTO Shuguro’s period novel Chiisakobe, trans- planting the Edo era in the original with a modern setting. A young carpenter, Shigeji, who lost his par- ents and his father’s building companycalledDaitomeinafire, swears to himself he will rebuild the company according to the words of his father, Tomezoh, “What is im- portant for people throughout the ages is humanity and strength of will”. He hires Ritsu, who has no place to go, as an assistant at Daitome. Some children from an orphanage, who lost their home, also show up at Daitome. the beaded young car- penter’s decision to take over his family’s business. It’s a drama filled with the milk of human kindness.

Reason for Award

TheoriginalnovelChiisakobeby YAMAMOTO Shugoro is a 70-page story, one of his major works which has since been made into a movie, a stage drama and a TV drama. A young carpenter, Shigeji, who lost his parents in a fire braces himself up to rebuild his family’s business, but he doesn’t ask for help from people around him. Why is he so stubborn?Whatwillhappenwith the love triangle among his child- hood friends? Although you can find out these answers in the origi- nal novel, you will still feel great anticipation with the approach tak- en in this manga version.
The story is told in a quiet manner. Some distinctive expressions with MOCHIZUKI’s own dramatic inter- pretation stand out in this manga version such as inserting a sudden close-up panel and depicting char- acters’ behavior in a strange way. His previous work Tokyo Kaidoh (Tokyo Suspicious Kids) was full of young kids with a strange presence. In this work the kids adopted by Rit- su also have something mysterious about them and the entanglement between the main characters and the kids (which is not clearly de- picted until the end in the original novel) reflects their “humanity and strength of will” and disconsolate feelings, and is a big part of this fascinating work.
All jury members were in agree- ment that this work is superb in depicting “the joys and sorrows of ordinary citizens” in modern times. (SAITO Nobuhiko)



KUI Ryoko(Japan)


After the serialization in the web literary magazine, this comic, a col- lection of very short one-act stories (shortest; two pages, longest; eleven pages) is KUI’s third comic antholo- gy. It includes 33 stories: Ryu no Gekirin, about people eating dragon cuisine in a village which has a cus- tom of hunting dragons once a year, Kotei no Haru, which features a young man who lives in a village with long winters walking through a forest searching for spring, Kigo wo Tabe- ru, describing the process of cooking and eating “round”, “triangle” and “square”, Short Short no Shujinkou, about a world in which every person lives as the main character of a dif- ferent story, Tooki Risoukyo, a discussion between junior high- school students about a fictional country, Ikinokoru tame, in which the evolution process of a certain crea- ture is described, and many other stories. This is an ever-changing col- lection of short stories featuring a variety of ideas from comedy, folk tales and fables to SF, with a mixture of graphic forms such as girls’ man- ga and gekiga-styles.

Reason for Award

Two collections of short stories, Ryu no Gakkou wa Yama no Ue (Dragon’s School on the Top of the Mountain) and Ryu no Kawaii Nanatsu no Ko (Seven Lovely Children of a Dragon), were published in 2011 and 2012, through which the author surprised readers with her technique to bring fantasy to reality and the ever- changing location and time in her scenes. Her third comic book, Hiki- dashi ni Terrarium (TERRARIUM IN DRAWER), which includes 33 short stories was published in 2013. In this work, she gave readers a pleasant surprise with very short but incredibly rich and creative contents as well as flexibly chang- ing styles of picture according to the theme of each story, answering questions such as “What if symbols such as were food?” or “What if one draws an essay manga in two different styles, where the author’s perspective is depicted with hu- morous pictures and the reality is depicted with serious pictures?”. Readers can get delightful excite- ment from such stories. Although KUI had been engaged in her cre- ative activities before her debut in doujinshi (self-published manga), on her own website and the draw- ing SNS, “pixiv”, she deserved the New Face Award given her stellar career with three commercial books being published. However, the very “excellence” of all three books pub- lished in sequence was judged as a reason for instead awarding her the Excellence Award. (YAMADA Tomoko)

KUI Ryoko