The comics industry in Japan is not only linked to the economy of the country but also influences pop culture all over the world. In Japan, thousands of new comic books on all kinds of topics are published every year, making it difficult to choose when visiting the bookstore. Luckily, an annual Japanese comics (manga) award called the “Cartoon Grand Prize (マンガ大賞)” can be a good reference for readers. The list of nominees for 2018 has been announced, let’s see how interesting they are!
— 三省堂書店海老名店 (@ebina_sanseido) 2018年1月31日
The Cartoon Grand Prize has been held since 2008; 2018 being its 11th year. Its purpose is to promote comic books worth the attention and recognition to the public. It is a non-commercial activity organized by volunteers, and the judges are people working in a field related to comics (e.g. bookstore staff) but are not writers or publishers.
Every year, 100 judges select five interesting comics published in the previous year with less than eight volumes. The 12 comics that get the most number of votes are nominated and the number one wins the grand prize.
Here are the 12 comics nominated for 2018:
- BEASTARS (ビースターズ)
- Warera Contactee (我らコンタクティ)
- Nagi no Ohima (凪のお暇)
- Dungeon Meshi (ダンジョン飯)
- Fumetsu no Anata e (不滅のあなたへ)
- Runway de Waratte (ランウェイで笑って)
- Tongari Booshi no Atelier (とんがり帽子のアトリエ)
- Made in Abyss (メイドインアビス)
- Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! (映像研には手を出すな！)
- Eiga Daisuki Ponpo-san (映画大好きポンポさん)
- The Promised Neverland (約束のネバーランド)
- Golden Gold (ゴールデンゴールド)
— ぶぎ＠A3十座と丞推しの秋組推し (@haru4na28) 2018年1月30日
The comic that won the Cartoon Grand Prize for 2018 is BEASTARS! This comic’s story is a bit similar to the Pixar movie Zootopia but is not for children readers. It talks about a story of youthfulness with animals as characters. The drawing style is also special and sketch-like, different from other Japanese comics that use a lot of dots and patterns.
The following 3 out of the 12 comics were actually nominated both in 2017 and 2018:
The Promised Neverland or Yakusoku no Neverland is one of the most popular comics in recent years, ranking 11th in the Cartoon Grand Prize 2018 and 6th in the Cartoon Grand Prize 2017. It also won a lot of prizes in other comics competitions.
This comic is drawn delicately, and the background of the story is like a fantasy version of “Never Let Me Go,” a famous novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.
It talks about three children, namely Emma, Norman, and Ray, who have been living a happy life in an orphanage until they unexpectedly find out that the place is actually a children farm for “ghosts.” As they plan to help all the children in the orphanage escape, they encounter numerous difficulties. The exciting plots will make it hard to stop once you start reading it.
Dungeon Meshi ranked 4th in the Cartoon Grand Prize 2018 and 3rd in the Cartoon Grand Prize 2017. It also topped the Amazon Ranking of Comics on Kindle in 2016, which has a high reputation.
Do you think you can survive if you get into the world of video games? The story of this comic is based on the virtual world of video games, wherein the characters use the cooking method in the real world to cook “strange creatures.” For instance, in the first episode, they make a hot pot with slime and mushrooms that can walk.
It is a new style of “food comic” – the food in the comics might look very delicious but you will not want to try them knowing what they are made of. If you love to play video games, you will surely love Dungeon Meshi.
21日(土)発売のモーツー3号、堀尾省太『ゴールデンゴールド』。事件をきっかけに、島の中に「島の外の人」の目が入る。そして、フクノカミは完全体に!? 「このマンガがすごい！」2017オトコ編第5位の注目作、最新発売中！ pic.twitter.com/oBk4m56OWI
— モーニング・ツー (@morningtwo) 2017年1月29日
Golden Gold ranked 12th in the Cartoon Grand Prize 2018 and 7th in the Cartoon Grand Prize 2017. The drawing style and setting of the story are a bit weird and not everyone will like it, especially the main character, Fukunokami (god of fortune in Japanese), who looks scary for someone who is supposed to bring good fortune.
This comic talks about the relationship between money and humans. Even though the appearance of Fukunokami is not so attractive, you will get used to the world of the story immediately.
Golden Gold Website *Japanese only
Although the Cartoon Grand Prize is a voluntary event, all of the judges really love comics and are familiar with them, so the ranking is very credible. The nominated comics are promoted by many bookstores to let more people know about them, which is exactly the purpose of this event.
It’s a pity that we can’t introduce all 12 comics in this article, but we believe that they are interesting so do take a look at the rest of them if you can!
Cartoon Grand Prize Website *Japanese only