[From April Issue 2015]
In February 2015, the awards ceremony for the Eighth International Manga Awards was held in Minato City, Tokyo Prefecture. It’s an open contest for manga created outside Japan. It’s organized by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan Foundation – a cultural organization specializing in international cultural exchanges and Japanese language education. The Japan Cartoonists’ Association and publishers of manga magazines are also involved. This time, 317 works from 46 countries/regions were submitted and 15 of them won awards. The award winning works from Asia, the West, the Middle East and Africa reflected the continuing expansion and development of manga culture.
Gold and Silver Award winners are invited to Japan to meet Japanese cartoonists and to visit publishers and other manga-related sites. This year’s Gold Award was given to Nambaral ERDENEBAYAR from Mongolia. Luo mu from China, Ben WONG from Malaysia, and 61Chi from Taiwan were selected for the Silver Award. Though 61Chi had a prior engagement, the other three winners came to Japan.
“Bumbardai,” Erdenebayar’s award winning work, depicts the close relationship of a nomadic mother and child. “I want to continue depicting the traditional life of nomads. I’d also like to explore the subject of Mongolian folklore,” says Erdenebayar. “I loved Doraemon as a child. I went to the Fujiko・F・Fujio Museum during this stay in Japan and it was like a dream come true.”
Luo mu, who won her award for “Mr. Bear,” a story about a boy in a bear costume, has been drawing manga for only a year or two. “I’m still quite inexperienced when it comes to drawing manga and constructing stories, so I was both surprised and delighted when I learned about the award,” she says. “I’ll continue to do my best now that I’ve been commissioned to do a series. I’d like to create heart-warming works in the future.”
Ben Wong who won his award for “Atan,” a story about a boy and a water buffalo, is a talented cartoonist who’d already won an award at the first International Manga Awards. “I became a manga writer because I thought it was a good business opportunity. My entrepreneurial spirit was stimulated by the possibility of success and by the risks involved,” he says. “From now on, I’d like to expand into educational manga,” he said about his ambitions for the future.
“There was a time when it was said that Japanese manga wasn’t up to world standards. Japanese cartoonists, however, instead of trying to adapt to this, only depicted what would please readers,” said cartoonist SATONAKA Machiko, chief judge. “In whichever country manga is drawn, readers will welcome it as long as it’s fun. And by sharing stories, we get to know about each other’s cultures,” she said, giving words of encouragement to the winners.
“The level of the art work was so high and the stories were so well constructed that these works might as well have been published in Japan,” says SAITO Yuko from the Cultural Affairs and Overseas Public Relations Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “I hope these awards will one day be loved by cartoonists and readers throughout the whole world.” The application period for the next International Manga Award is expected to be from mid-April to late May.
Text: SAZAKI Ryo