And the award goes to…

And the award goes to…

I’ve noticed that many of the manga series I’ve read have won awards in Japan. For some reason, I have a habit of picking up award-winning manga, and in most cases I didn’t find out these series had won awards until after I had already read and enjoyed them. There are a few series I got interested in because I had read positive reviews (particularly for Kimi ni Todoke), but that’s different because I purposely sought to find out if these series had critical acclaim before I tried them out for myself.  Of the awards given to manga in Japan, the two I’m most familiar with are the Kodansha and Shogagukan manga awards. Here’s a list of series I’ve read that have won either of these prizes in the shojo category:

Kodansha Manga Award winners:

  • Sailor Moon (1993)
  • Kodocha (1998)
  • Peach Girl (1999)
  • Fruits Basket (2001)
  • Honey and Clover (2003)
  • Nodame Cantabile (2004)
  • Kimi ni Todoke (2008)

Shogakukan Manga Award winners:

  • Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers) (1995)
  • Nana (2002)
  • Love*Com (2003)
  • Sand Chronicles (2004)
  • We Were There (2004)
  • Black Bird(2008)

    The fact that the series has won the Kodansha Manga Award has been mentioned on every cover of Nodame Cantabile released so far.

Many of my favorite series are on these lists, including Kodocha, Boys Over Flowers, Nana, and We Were There. But I don’t think it’s just coincidence that many of the series I’ve read and consider my favorites are award winners. After all, these series were obviously popular and acclaimed enough to be honored in Japan, which means that they’re more likely to be licensed in America in the hopes of replicating that success. However, I don’t usually see manga publishers advertise series’ awards as a selling point – the only manga I can think of where the fact that the series won an award was mentioned on the book itself is Nodame Cantabile. I also think it’s interesting to look at the list of award-winners in comparison to the bestsellers lists in America. Although there is definitely some overlap (Fruits Basket, Sailor Moon and Black Bird have frequently made it onto the Top 10 Bestsellers for manga), many of these award winners haven’t done particulary well sales-wise in the U.S. Meanwhile, many of the most popular series here in America haven’t won any awards in Japan, such as Vampire Knight and Skip Beat! And just winning an award doesn’t automatically mean a series is great; I still wonder how Black Bird managed to steal a win when it’s a pure smut-fest. Still, I can’t help but think that since I’ve just happened to stumble upon award-winning series by accident, I must just have good taste. 😛


9 thoughts on “And the award goes to…

  1. I’m surprised to see that Black Bird got the Shogakukan Manga Award in 2008. Like you said, its basically just smut. I still need to start reading “We were there” and I concur with you about other manga like Skip-Beat.

    1. It’s funny that I question Black Bird‘s popularity even though I continue to read it as well, but I would never seriously nominate it for an award. I definitely recommend We Were There – even though the series has a lot of drama, it’s very realistic and moving.

    2. Yeah, I third this sentiment. Although, I think it’s important to point out that sales of said series also play a big role in the selection, so that would explain a few of these choices.

  2. I can understand the majority of the manga selected as award winners since I have read most and agree with the selection. But Black Bird? I haven’t read it yet, but based on your review from before there isn’t much story to enjoy unless you want a manga version of a Harlequin novel of course. 😛

    1. And the thing is is that there are plenty of smutty series out there so there’s nothing that unique about it that can justify it’s popularity either! I’m personally going with the theory that the judges were bribed. 😛

  3. Basara also won the Shogakukan award in shoujo (so did 7 SEEDS). 😀 I’m happy that at least in Japan, Ms. Tamura gets the recognition she deserves. It really breaks my heart that some of these award winning series that are also really good, don’t get the recognition they deserve outside Japan. 😦

    I’m surprised about Skip Beat as last I heard it was also extremely popular in Japan. Perhaps that publisher doesn’t do awards? Please Save My Earth was also published in Hana to Yume and it also didn’t get any awards, but it is insanely popular in Japan (so much so that there is an ongoing sequel to the manga in Japan).

    1. Actually from a quick glance at that list, wasn’t Yumi Tamura the only shojo manga author to win more than once? That makes me want to read Basara even more. 🙂

      Skip Beat! is popular, but I guess not every popular series can win an award. It’s possible Skip Beat! and PSME just faced tough competition. Several of the series that won awards are published by companies that don’t do awards (I believe Kodocha is one of them).

      1. It looks like Chie Shinohara (author of Red River) also won twice, although the space between her two wins in pretty big. Speaking of Red River that’s another series I’ve heard good things about. But, yeah I don’t think you will be disappointed with Basara or 7SEEDS. The latter I haven’t even started reading but I can already tell it’s going to be good based on the description and the talent of the writer. 😀

        I didn’t know that. I thought the manga were exclusively chosen from the same publishing house. Hm, that makes it weirder that those two didn’t win considering something like Black Bird has managed to win. :/ Now I’m curious what sort of requirements are necessary other than selling well.

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