For the nineteenth year in a row, Japan seeks to recognize the excellence of manga creators through the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize. Osamu is known the world over as the mangaka behind Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Phoenix, and Black Jack. The award picks a manga that best follows his tradition of pioneering the world of manga and bringing into a better future.
This year’s nominees are:
Aisawa Riku by Yoiko Hoshi – Riku is a 14-year-old middle school student who can turn on fake tears like a faucet.
Aoi Hono by Kazuhiku Shimamoto – Honō is a first-year student in a certain major university of the fine arts in Osaka. Full of passion and ambition, he vows to become a manga creator while also being interested in becoming an animator. The coming-of-age drama is based on Shimamoto’s own college years in the early 1980s.
Assassination Classroom by Yusei Matsui – The story begins after 70% is destroyed by a strange tentacled creature that can slink around at Mach 20 speeds. For some reason, this creature ends up teaching a middle school class at the beginning of the school year. The students have until graduation to assassinate the teacher, or it will destroy Earth as well.
Silver Spoon by Hiromu Arakawa – The manga follows Yūgo Hachiken and his classmates at an agricultural high school in Hokkaido. Many of Hachiken’s classmates are from farming families, but Hachiken is from the city and is not used to farm life. Arakawa is also the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist
A Silent Voice by Yosjitoki Ooima – Young boy Jōya Ishida has the motto of “Bright! Fun! Adventures!” He meets a deaf girl named Shōko Nishimiya. Their meeting changes the classroom, the school, and Jōya’s entire life.
Goshiki no Fune by Yasumi Tsuhara (manga) and Yoko Kondo (Original Story) – During a war they can’t see, a family makes a living by running a freak show. They add a monster named Gudan, who can guess the future.
Chaser by Jokura Koji – The story takes place in the first half of 1955, when a manga artist named Kōichi Umitoku is trying to challenge Osamu Tezuka, the God of Manga. He is the same age as Tezuka, and has three reasonably popular monthly serialized manga under his belt. He outwardly criticizes Tezuka’s work as boring, but secretly collects Tezuka manga.
Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto – The long-running series about Naruto, a boy born the spirit of an evil nine-tailed fox imprisoned within him, and his quest to become Hokage, the strongest ninja in his village, ended in 2014 after 15 years.
Heisei Uro Oboe Zoshi by Hajime Toda – A (fictional) account from an Edo-era painter who visited the modern era and returned. The ukiyo-e he drew tell stories of mascot character, A*B48, the Sky Tree, and more.
The winners will be decided on March 25, 2015 and will be announced in Asashi Shimbun in April.