On Friday, July 10, 2015, the Wil Eisner Comic Industry Awards were announced during San Diego Comic Con. Five titles and six volumes were announced in the Best US Edition of International Material – Asia, essentially the manga category, but only one title could win. The award went to Drawn and Quarterly’s release of Showa 1939-1944 A History of Japan and Showa 1945-1953: A History of Japan by Shigeru Mizuki.
The title faced some tough competition as it went up against Viz Media’s All You Need is Kill, One-Punch Man, and Master Keaton, Vertical’s In Clothes Called Fat, and Yen Press’ Wolf Children: Ame and Yuki. The volumes of Showa that were nominated and won covered Japan’s history from World War II to the aftermath and Occupation. The series was nominated last year for both an Eisner and a Harvey, for the first volume, 1926-1939.
I haven’t had a chance to read any of these volumes yet. My love of history has them on my want list, but my wallet has told me to wait. I must admit I was hoping Master Keaton would win. I do love that series so much, and the first volume was a great showcase for who Keaton is and what he does. But I certainly can’t fault the awards committee for picking not just the title, but both volumes. It portrays a dramatic time in Japan’s history and shows that history doesn’t have to be boring.
Back in March, the winner of the 8th annual Manga Taisho award was announced. Of the 14 titles nominated, Kakukaku Shikajika by Akiko Higashimura was chosen to take the prize this year. Higashimura is mostly a josei artist, so her work isn’t widely known in the US, but she does have one that his constantly being requested in publisher surveys; the josei Kuragehime–Jellyfish Princess.
Kakukaku Shikajika, which can be translated as Such and Such, is a semi-autobiographical series about Higashimura when she was in her third year in high school. Through a friend, she starts going to an art class where the art teacher, Kenzo Hidaka, who intimidates his students by yelling at them and using a bamboo sword to force them to focus on their art work. The series is complete in 5 volumes, and was published in Shueisha’s women’s magazine, Chorus.
Manga about manga titles have been doing pretty well in the west, so I think this one would too. It’s a short series, only 5 volumes, and since Viz Media has been experimenting with josei-as-shojo titles, I think this series would really do well. The subject is something both men and women would be interested in reading, and the setting makes it more fitting for the 16+ shojo age range. I hope Viz Media takes a serious look at this series, especially now that it has won an award. Maybe if it does well enough, we could be one step closer to Jellyfish Princess.