SUGOI JAPAN Award2016 ceremony report

‘One Punch-Man’ finishes 1st in nationwide manga vote

Hisanori Yoshida

“One Punch-Man,” “Your Lie in April,” “Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?” and “The Empire of Corpses” are the manga, anime, ranobe (light novel) and entame shosetsu (entertainment novel) titles, respectively, that have won the 2016 edition of the SUGOI JAPAN Award, an online vote to choose the Japanese pop culture works most deserving to be shared with people in the rest of the world.
A total of 65,294 ballots were cast in the second annual poll, organized by the SUGOI JAPAN Committee and The Yomiuri Shimbun and held from Nov. 16, 2015, to Jan. 3, 2016, with more than 27,000 messages carrying words of enthusiastic support for voters’ favorite titles and authors. “Sugoi” is the Japanese word meaning amazing, great or wonderful.
On March 22, an award ceremony was held in Tokyo, with Nippon Broadcasting System announcer Hisanori Yoshida unveiling the names of the top five nominees in the manga, anime, ranobe and entame shosetsu categories, along with a selection of comments from voters. Prior to the vote, he served as a member for the panel of the awards, responsible for choosing anime titles to be nominated for the vote.

Manga category

One, right, receives the prize from Yozo Matsuda, executive chairman of the SUGOI JAPAN Committee.

SYusuke Murata and Yozo Matsudaayawaka

Yoshida, acknowledging that he is a J-pop culture otaku (geek), first welcomed writer ONE and illustrator Yusuke Murata to the stage to receive the top award for the manga category. Together, they produce “One Punch-Man,” featuring a hero, named Saitama, who needs no more than one punch to overpower any enemy.
ONE originally uploaded “One Punch-Man” onto the web. When he saw it, Murata was so enchanted that he immediately contacted ONE on Twitter. ONE said at the ceremony that he could not initially believe he was talking with the illustrator he enthusiastically admired. With the help of Murata, the work then made its commercial debut.
Murata recalled that he phoned ONE from time to time to enhance the charm of “One Punch-Man” further. ONE and Murata thanked each other and readers for receiving the SUGOI JAPAN Award. ONE said: “I’m really pleased that so many people are enjoying our work. I’d like to devote myself further to it from now on.” Murata commented, “I’d also like to make further efforts to convey the allure of Saitama as drawn by ONE-sensei.”

※Interview with One and Yuske Murata is Here

Representing the manga jury, writer and critic Sayawaka said of the award-winning title: “‘One Punch-Man’ is very symbolic of the times in that what looks like an old-fashioned hero is depicted in a present-day way and that it originally debuted as a web manga and, moreover, is increasingly appreciated abroad. Thus, this work is perfectly entitled to receive the top prize in the manga category of the SUGOI JAPAN Award.


“The first runner-up and all other works nominated for the award are without equal. In fact, it was a very challenging mission for us first to select a group of 20 nominees for the 2016 award in terms of both popularity and diversity — one of the outstanding properties of these manga — out of so many works released in the past three years. We now recommend with confidence the top five finalists as the manga titles to be shared with people abroad.”

Anime category

Kyouhei Ishiguro

Kyouhei Ishiguro, Yuichi Fukushima, the producer of A-1 Pictures (middle) and Shunsuke Saito, the producer of Aniplex Inc.(right)

Aniplex Inc. which helped produce the 2015 grand prizewinning anime series “Puella Magi Madoka Magica,” was awarded the 2016 top prize in the anime category for “Your Lie in April.”
Yoshida said he was fascinated by the exquisite musical performance scenes in the award-winning anime. Especially when he watched the last episode of the series, he said, “I couldn’t hold back tears.” As such, he said, “I’m sure this work can be palpable to people abroad even without seeing subtitles.”
Appearing on the stage together with producers from Aniplex and A-1 Pictures, which was also involved in the production of “Your Lie in April,” Kyohei Ishiguro, the director of the work, expressed his gratitude to Naoshi Arakawa, who wrote and illustrated it, and Kodansha Ltd. and all the other entities and people involved in the production of the anime. He also said, “I’ll make all-out efforts to create one anime after another that will be more excellent than this work, with which I debuted as an anime director.” In his speech, he revealed many behind-the-scenes episodes on the production side, such as tireless joint efforts to bring both the anime series and its origin — a manga version — to an almost simultaneous end and find ideal locations for those highly acclaimed music performance scenes in the anime.

※Interview with Kyouhei Ishiguro is Here

Representing the anime jury, Kaichiro Morikawa, an associate professor at Meiji University, commented: “It is my impression that there emerged a new trend in the Japanese anime industry as a whole in 2014 and 2015 — the period we looked back at for selecting anime works of excellence — to challenge new projects, which might have hardly been approved at planning stages a while ago. They broke with the general trend to produce ‘easy-to-understand’ works and instead sought to create such works with such quality contents that ‘make audiences believe those works truly deserve watching only after doing so.’

Kaichiro Morikawa

“This change in the attitudes on the part of the production side undoubtedly reflects the extent to which the discernment of audiences has matured. Indeed, producers and investors who support the production of each anime work now give a lot more consideration to audiences. I think this kind of observation has been proven by the results of the 2016 poll. In this regard, I expect the organizers of the SUGOI JAPAN Award to make efforts on their part to convince anime audiences abroad to share the new way of appreciating anime among their Japanese counterparts.”

Ranobe category

Kentaro Kodaki, an editor at SB Creative Corp., receives the award on behalf of author Fujino Omori.

As the award ceremony went on to name the winner in the ranobe category, they mentioned a Spanish person who had read an English version of the ranobe work “Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?” One of the editors working with its author Fujino Omori said proudly that it was their “mission to let as many people as possible in the world read works like this one.”
For Omori, the award-winning work was virtually his first novel — he originally wrote it as if “giving it a shot” to take part in an online novel contest. This work became so popular that he immediately chose to start his new career as a ranobe author. Looking excited yet nervous on the stage, Omori said: “Since my debut thanks to this work, my circumstances have kept changing turbulently. But today I am full of happiness and gratitude, though I still feel very surprised. While I wish I could congratulate myself in a loud voice, I think this award gives me a reason to write new works that will make readers in Japan and foreign countries feel interested in reading more works of mine. To do so, I’ll go back to the basics.”

※Interview with Fujino Omori is Here

Writer and critic Satoshi Maejima, representing the ranobe jury, commented

Satoshi Maejima

“The award-winning work and ‘OVERLORD,’ which finished fourth, emerged from the world of the Internet. I’m interested to know how and to what extent those online ranobe works will eventually change the ranobe world. Such a trend is not limited to Japan. The Hollywood movie ‘Odyssey’ — the title in Japan for ‘The Martian’ — is a screenplay based on Andy Weir’s 2011 web novel ‘The Martian.’ I hope Japanese web novels will be adapted into screenplays in Hollywood in the near future.”

Novels category

Toh EnJoe

Toh EnJoe and the parents of Project Itoh

In the entame shosetsu category, “The Empire of Corpses” is the award-winning work Project Itoh originally began writing without completing it as he died two years after his debut as an author on March 20, 2009, at the age of 34. The rest of the novel was then completed by author Toh EnJoe, who is a friend of Itoh’s and winner of the prestigious Akutagawa literature prize. Itoh’s parents were invited to the award ceremony.
EnJoe said it was regrettable that Itoh was not at the ceremony to receive the top prize. “I am here today thanks entirely to him. Even today, I continue to ask myself if there wasn’t an alternative way (rather than completing the novel) to leave his manuscript in a much better way. March 20 marked the seventh anniversary of his death. I even now feel overwhelmed by his greatness. I hope I will be able to eventually go one better than him as an author.”

Representing the entame shosetsu jury was critic Makoto Ichikawa, who also teaches at Waseda University as an associate professor, commented:

Makoto Ichikawa

“In recent years, an increasing number of university students have chosen Project Itoh’s novels as the theme of their graduation or research theses in part of their common pursuit of the possibility of literature in the 21st century. Now it is particularly noteworthy that the joint work of Mr. Itoh and Mr. EnJoe, who debuted as an author in both serious literature and science-fiction genres, has won the SUGOI JAPAN Award, coinciding with the release of a movie based on their joint novel. This is a good example, which manifests both the possibility and the actual state of affairs pertaining to media-entertainment symbiosis.”

Written By Momo Tachibana
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