Trends in Japan > Pop Culture > Honoring The World's Manga Artists
First International Manga Awards Presented
(August 9, 2007)

Manga is now a global phenomenon that stands alongside anime as a contemporary art form born in Japan and then exported around the globe. The International MANGA Award was established to further promote manga worldwide and to reward outstanding works produced by manga creators from outside Japan. The first holding of this event attracted a large number of works from a range of countries, confirming the widespread influence of this genre.


Foreign Minister Aso with award winner Lee Chi Ching (©The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan)

From Japan to the World
The International MANGA Award was established following a proposal by Aso Taro, Japan's minister for foreign affairs and a renowned manga aficionado, who said, "Japan is the birthplace of manga, and I would like to give young manga creators from around the world a prestigious award from Japan." The result was an international competition drawing entries from all over Asia and beyond. Some 146 works were received from professional and amateur manga artists in 26 countries and regions, some nominated by the artists themselves and others by overseas publishers. As well as Asian countries including China, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines, entries were also received from the United States, Britain, Spain, and other Western nations where comics and cartoons are the dominant genres in this field.

The judges of the award included famous manga artists, such as Satonaka Machiko, creator of Tenjo no Niji (Rainbow in the Sky); Yanase Takashi, creator of the Anpanman manga and anime series; and Chiba Tetsuya, who authored Ashita no Joe (Tomorrow's Joe). This gave the award added weight and ensured that the winners could be truly proud of their achievements.


Sun Zi's Tactics, the winning manga (©Culturecom Limited)

Hong Kong Artist Wins Inaugural Award
The judges faced a tough challenge in selecting winners from among the numerous high-quality entries, but they eventually chose 19 works to go through to the final round of selection. From these, they awarded the International MANGA Award to Sun Zi's Tactics by Lee Chi Ching, a professional manga artist from Hong Kong; the work has already been translated into Japanese and sold in Japan. Foreign Minister Aso praised Lee's drawing style, commenting, "It resembles the style of Ikegami Ryoichi [a manga artist whose work includes Crying Freeman]." Sun Zi's Tactics hints at the influence of Japanese manga on Chinese drawing techniques. Based on an ancient classic, the plot was bound to be gripping. But it was the power of Lee's artwork that most impressed the judges. "The pictures make you want to read the story," commented one judge, while another declared, "Sun Zi's Tactics unquestionably deserves the top prize."


The prize-giving ceremony for the International MANGA Awards (©The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan)

Three runners-up from Malaysia, Australia, and Hong Kong were honored with the "Shorei" Award for excellence. The winners were invited to Japan to receive their awards, which consisted of trophies modeled on the speech bubbles found in manga.

The award winners visited Japan for a 10-day itinerary that included visits to Akihabara, the Kyoto International Manga Museum, and the Ghibli Museum, Mitaka, as well as interaction with Japanese manga creators. They reported being especially inspired by their contact with fellow artists, which gave them a chance to discuss work styles, drafting techniques, and drawing styles with people engaged in the same profession.

A Foreign Ministry official expressed satisfaction with the inaugural event, saying, "We received a lot of entries even though the application period was short, which testifies to the influence of manga and the passion that it arouses in people. We are keen to hold the event every year."

The works submitted for the award showed that an art form born in Japan is evolving in different directions in different countries, reflecting each country's culture. As manga spreads further, the International MANGA Award will provide opportunities for the growing number of manga artists worldwide.

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