The Manga Awards were announced in March 2021. The nominations started in 2008, and this year marks the 14th anniversary. In this article, we will introduce some of the “works that have been made into anime” among the many popular works that have been nominated for the Grand Prize.
■2009 Winner “Chihayafuru”
This is a work about “Hyakunin Isshu competitive karuta” (karuta is a Japanese card game) by Suetsugu Suetsugu, serialized in “BE-LOVE” (Kodansha) since 2008. At first glance, karuta may seem unremarkable, but the story is not a cultural story, but rather a sporty and passionate battle. In addition to the competition, the characters’ growth, friendship, and romance are also carefully depicted, making the readers’ hearts beat faster with anticipation.
Originally, the target audience of the magazine was mainly women in their 20s and 30s, but the readership has expanded to include elementary, junior high, and high school students, as well as male readers. It also contributed to the karuta boom by increasing the number of spectators at competitive karuta tournaments and the number of people who started attending karuta classes.
The anime started in 2011 and up to the 3rd season has been aired as of 2021. It was directed by Asaka Morio and produced by Madhouse. The voice actors include Seto Asami, Miyano Mamoru, and Hosoya Yoshimasa.
■2011 Award “March comes in like a Lion”
This is a “Shogi” (Japanese chess) manga serialized in “Young Animal” (Hakusensha) since 2007. The author is Umino Chika, the author of “Honey and Clover” which has been adapted into many media.
The main character, Kiriyama Rei, is a 17-year-old young professional shogi player, and the three sisters who are kind to him, as well as the psychological descriptions of the players with rich personalities, are all expressed with great precision.
The anime ran for a second cour over the course of 2016-2018. The role of Rei was played by Kawanishi Kengo. The cast also includes Kayano Ai, Hanazawa Kana, Kuno Misakio, and Okamoto Nobuhiko.
Directed by Shinbo Akiyuki and produced by Shaft. It is also worth noting that popular artists such as BUMP OF CHICKEN, YUKI, UNISON SQUARE GARDEN, and Yonezu Kenshi were in charge of the theme song.
In 2017, a live-action movie starring Kamiki Ryunosuke was also released. It was a hot topic with a gorgeous cast including Sometani Shouta, Takahashi Issei, Nakamura Tomoya, and Sasaki Kuranosuke as the professionals that Rei plays against.
■2012 Award “Silver Spoon”
This is a manga set in an agricultural high school by Arakawa Hiromu, known for “Fullmetal Alchemist” and “The Heroic Legend of Arslan “, serialized in “Weekly Shonen Sunday” (Shogakukan) from 2011 to 2019, and made into an anime and a live-action movie.
Due to his rebellion against his father, Hachigen Yuugon enters an agricultural high school without a purpose or a dream for the future. There, he meets a group of unique friends who have entered the school with their own visions for the future. Hachigen struggles with the unfamiliarity of farming and experiences “growing,” “eating,” and “living” with them, despite worrying all the time.
While this is a coming-of-age story with comedy elements, it is also a work that will make you realize the “reality” of the agricultural industry and think again about “taking life”.
The anime aired its second season from 2013 to 2014. It was directed by Ito Tomohiko Ito (1st season) and Deai Kotomi (2nd season), and produced by A-1 Pictures.
The main character, Hachigen, was played by Kimura Ryohei in the anime version, and by Nakajima Kento of Sexy Zone in the movie version released in 2014.
■2016 Award “Golden Kamuy”
This work is an adventure drama set in Hokkaido at the end of the Meiji era, written by Noda Satoru.
It has been serialized in Weekly Young Jump (Shueisha) since 2014, with 25 volumes already published and a total circulation of over 15 million copies (as of March 2021).
The story follows Sugimoto Saichi, a former army soldier known as the “Immortal Man,” and Asirpa, an Ainu girl, as they battle various forces over a gold bar.
The key to the location of the gold is the prisoners who escaped from Abashiri Prison. You might think that they are diabolical people ……, they are all people with dangerous sexual habits relative to their cruelty. Their stories of hedonistic killers, cannibalism, and bestiality …… leave a vivid impression on the reader, never to be forgotten again.
The tense life-and-death battles with the perverts are exciting, but the Ainu culture, which has been meticulously covered, is another highlight. The hunting, dismantling, and eating, including the cooking scenes in the magnificent nature of Hokkaido, looks delicious and makes you realize the “providence of the natural world.
The anime began airing in 2018, and a third series was produced in 2020. The voice cast includes Kobayashi Chikahiro, Shiraishi Haruka, Ito Kentaro, Tsuda Kenjiro, and Hosoya Yoshimasa. Directed by Namba Hitoshi and produced by Geno Studio.
■2018 Award “BEASTARS”
This is an “animal” anthropomorphic work by Itagaki Paru, serialized in “Weekly Shonen Champion” (Akita Shoten) from 2016 to 2020.
The story takes place in a world where carnivores and herbivores coexist. However, in the school where the main character, a boy named Legoshi, is a gray wolf, there is an “eating incident”. In addition, despite being a carnivore, he falls in love with a herbivore rabbit girl.
The illustrations are slightly deformed, and the animals, which look almost real, speak, giving the story a unique atmosphere. However, the worries, conflicts, and struggles of the animals in the story resonate with the audience in a way that is no different from our own.
In addition, the story, which is based on the biggest “rule” in the animal world, “eat or be eaten,” is filled with raw “life”.
It will be adapted into an anime in 2019, directed by Matsumi Shinichi and produced by Orange. The cast includes Kobayashi Tomohiro, Ono Yuuki, and Senbongi Sayaka, and a second season was broadcast from January to March 2021.
■2019 Award for “Astra Lost in Space”
This is a science fiction story by Shinohara Kenta that was published on the website “Shonen Jump +” from 2016 to 2017.
In the near future, a high school student on a camping trip to a planet is lost in space due to an accident. How long will the energy and food in the spaceship last, and who is the culprit who intentionally caused the accident? …… Many readers were surprised to learn that this is a full-fledged science fiction story that includes survival and mystery, written by Shinohara-san, known for his school comedy “SKET DANCE”.
It’s a short story with only five volumes, but there are many foreshadowing lines scattered throughout, and the truth that leads to the conclusion will leave you feeling refreshed after reading it. Of course, it is also packed with gags.
The anime was directed by Ando Masaomi, produced by Lerche, and aired in 2019.
The voice cast includes Hosoya Yoshimasa, Minase Inori, Shimazaki Nobunaga, Kurosawa Tomoyo,
In addition to this, the 2020 Grand Prize winner “Blue Period” (written by Yamaguchi Tsubasa) will also be animated in 2021. Masunari Koji will be the general director, Asano Katsuya will direct, Yoshida Reiko will write the series composition and script, Shitaya Tomoyuki will design the characters, and Seven Arcs will produce the animation.
There are also a number of nominated works in this season’s spring anime.
2011 9th “Mashiro no oto” (Author: Ragawa Marimo)
2015 8th “My Hero Academia (5th season)” (Author: Horikoshi Kohei)
2018 5th “To the Immortal You” (Author: Ooima Yoshitoki)
And the 2021 Grand Prize went to “Sousou no Frieren” (original work: Yamada Kanehito, art: Abetsukasa). After the announcement, the response was huge, and SNS was filled with readers’ joyful voices. The fourth volume of the comics has just been released (as of March 2021), and expectations are high for the future development of the story.
These are the works that won the “Manga Grand Prize”.
If you are interested in any of these works, please check them out.