Hi again everyone! It’s Joe Pascullo here, penning another guest blog post on my friend Tabrizia’s site here! And this time the focus is on manga that have taken home awards for their awesomeness. Japan has tons of awards that are given out annually to manga worthy of such prestige. And when a publishing company here in North America acquires the licensing rights to release said book in English, it’s typically a title that’s well worth checking out. Today I’d like to focus our attention on some award winners that you are able to to check out in English here the States. Let’s dive in!
Blue Period – I think it’s only appropriate that we lead things off with one of the biggest award winners making their way to America this year, and that would be Tsubasa Yamaguchi’s Blue Period. It is not only the winner of the Manga Taishō (a very notable prize overseas, whose committee consists of bookstore employees), but it also took home the 44th Kodansha Manga Award in the Best General Manga category. Also earning a spot on the New York Public Library’s 2020 Best Books for Teens list, it stars teenage boy Yatora, as he sort of floats through life, thinking he knows exactly what he wants to do when he graduates both high school & college. And that would be, just get a job that guarantees him lots of money. But when the vast world of art starts to pervade every thought Yatora has, he has to figure out whether or not to take a chance with his college selection, as opposed to taking the sure shot. A great read for all ages.
Blue Giant – Hey it was a pretty blue (not in a sad sense though!) year as far as manga releases went! We had the aforementioned Blue Period, Blue Flag, The Sky is Blue with a Single Cloud, and now, Blue Giant by Shinichi Ishizuka! And like Blue Period, Blue Giant is also a 2-time manga award winner debuting in English in 2020. It won the Best General Manga Award in 2016, as part of Japan’s Shogakukan Manga Awards, as well as the grand prize in manga at the 2016 Japan Media Arts Festival. Another solid coming of age tale, this time we’re introduced to a teenage boy named Dai. And Dai is another teen who is sort of floating through life here. He works a little, plays some basketball, and really that’s about it. His final year of high school is about to end, and he’s not quite sure what he’s going to do when it’s over. That is, until he discovers the world of jazz. Can Dai not only enter the world of jazz, but dominate it too? You’ll have to read to find out!
Spy x Family – Another fantastic title debuting in 2020, that just oozes excellence. A new entry by VIZ Media, (serialized by Shueisha in Japan since 2019), it would not shock me at all to see this receive an anime adaptation sooner rather than later. It is truly that much fun. Tatsuya Endo’s Spy x Family earned the 1st place spot in the 2019 Tsugi ni Kuru Manga Awards (roughly translated to Next Manga Awards), and was also the winner of the 4th Tsutaya Comic Taishō award in 2020. And with a plot of fun as this one, it’s not hard to see why. We’re introduced to a spy named Twilight, who is so married to his job, there is no length he won’t go to in order to complete his assignment to the letter. Well, he’s about to embark upon his toughest one yet. When he’s tasked at getting close to a threat to world peace, part of his assignment consists of him cobbling a family together a family. He finds a faux-wife (who’s secretly an assassin) and a faux-child (who’s secretly an esper), and the fun is on in this one! Completely unpredictable and hilarious, you’ll have a blast reading this title!
My Senpai Is Annoying – Shiromanta’s My Senpai is Annoying started off as a webcomic, before making it’s way to the bound volume medium. And it’s totally in color too, which is always a nice touch. Starting its run off in 2017 online in Ichijinsha’s Comic POOL digital manga magazine, it took home some hardware the following year. At the Tsugi ni Kuru Manga Awards in 2018, My Senpai Is Annoying took home the award for best web manga. In this slice of life comedy, we’re introduced to two office workers in Japan. One is our male lead Harumi, who has a boisterous personality, booming voice, and an everpresent smile. Our lead female is Futaba, a super short, and therefore super young-looking, sparkplug of a girl who thinks the boisterous Harumi is annoying! Or…does she? She’d never admit it, but she may have other thoughts in the back of her mind when it comes to how she really feels about her senpai. Do I detect some romance on the horizon?
5. Daily Lives of High School Boys – Let’s stick with the slice of life genre for just a bit more! This work by Yasunobu Yamauchi is his debut work in the manga industry. He states in the book he submitted it as an entrant in a Square Enix manga contest, and it was the victor of the Judge’s Choice Award. Though the title is only making its English language debut as a manga here in 2020, Daily Lives of High School Boys did have an anime adaptation that aired back in winter 2012. And the title is exactly what you would expect out of this series. We have 3 main character high school boys, Tadakuni, Yoshitake, and Hidenori. And their book is a collection of slice of life chapters, showing the sometimes mundane, sometimes eccentric things that they do in order to whittle away their time as high school students. Some examples of things shown in this comedy about daily life include the guys larping, complaining to the principal about how they have too many community service hours to complete at their all boys school, and we even see what happens as one of the teens works as a pizza delivery boy. Leisurely read for slice of life fans!
6. Witch Hat Atelier – All right so my final title mayyyyy be me cheating just a bit, since this title did not debut in English in 2020. Kamome Shirhama’s Witch Hat Atelier debuted stateside in 2019, and even earned a spot on that year’s New York Public Library Best Books for Teens list! But in 2020, it won two of manga’s biggest awards not over in Japan, but here in the US! At this year’s Eisner Awards, Witch Hat Atelier tied with Taiyō Matsumoto’s Cats of the Louvre in the Best U.S. Edition of International Material — Asia category. Then later this fall, it took home the Harvey Award for best manga. 2020 saw volumes 5, 6, and soon 7 come out in America, continuing Coco’s quest to become a witch! And after accidently turning her mother into crystal, she’s more determined than ever to learn all she can, and revive her to her previous state. Check this one out! And here’s to a great 2021 in not only manga, but the world in general! 皆さん, ありがとうございます!