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Taiwan's manga artists win top prizes at the 14th Japan International Manga Award

  • Date:2020-12-19
Taiwan's manga artists win top prizes at the 14th Japan International Manga Award

Taiwanese manga artists won top prizes of the 14th Japan International Manga Award announced on Dec. 16. Manga artists Rumui (韋蘺若明) received Gold Award for "Funeral Director (送葬協奏曲)," Ruan Guang-min (阮光民) received Silver Award for "The Illusionist on the Skywalk and Other Stories by Wu Ming-Yi (天橋上的魔術師圖像版:阮光民卷)," and D.S. received Bronze Award for "Blossom (百花百色)."

Rumui and D.S. received acclaim also for the themes they picked reflect the tolerance for diverse subject matters in Taiwan's manga scene as well as Taiwan's unique cultural landscape. Rumui's work depicts the life of a funeral director, and D.S. explores gender issues in traditional religion.

"Funeral Director" depicts the life of a top student, who ran away from home to pursue his dream and accidentally stepped into the funeral business, becoming a mortician.

Rumui noted that she spent a lot of time collecting information and actually interviewed a mortician prior to producing the manga. She pointed out that, "Like my protagonist, the mortician I interviewed is an inexperienced newcomer to the business." The interview helped her in developing the psychology of the character, she said, adding that she chose this subject because it is rare to find works of similar subjects in Taiwan, coupled with her interest in life-and-death issues.

Rumui voiced her disappointment at an interview for not being able to participate in the award ceremony in Japan which was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, adding that she was nevertheless pleased to receive the award since she has been reading Japanese manga ever since childhood and the recognition of Japan’s international award meant a lot to her.

Bronze prize winner D.S. was awarded for her work "Blossom," which revolves around the issues of gender and family. Introducing Taiwan's traditional religious ritual to change the sex of a girl to a boy in the womb, she has imbued the story with a unique local touch.

D.S. remarked that winning the award and her work's positive reception surprised her, in light that other works in competition are more mature as she considers. She explained that "Blossom" has its origins in a discussion with the editor where she discovered to her surprise that the "sex-change ritual" still exists and is conducted systematically.

D.S. disclosed that she met many challenges in the process of creating this work since it is a sensitive subject for many, not only in terms of gender, but also as it relates to family and the restraints that religion places on people. In completing the work, she not only drew on instances from friends around her, but also from her own experience.

Established in 2007 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the International Manga Award seeks "to honor manga artists who contribute to the promotion of manga overseas." A total of 383 entries from 61 countries and regions were received for the 14th Japan International Manga Award.

Photo courtesy of ©Gaea Books, Co., Ltd.