The Daily Yomiuri has an interview with Frederic Boilet, the French founder of the “nouvelle manga” movement, about the anthology JAPAN, which he masterminded. Boilet invited 16 manga artists, nine from France and seven from Japan, to draw short manga about Japan; the French artists were brought to different cities and the Japanese artists returned to their hometowns. The result was JAPAN, which has just won an award from the Japanese Cartoonists Association. I was particularly interested in Boilet’s comments on France, where manga has been around a bit longer than here:
“In France, the 20-something generation were raised with manga…. A lot of people know about manga, so it’s like a whole generation of otaku who are there ready to absorb anything that comes from Japan–as long as it is Japanese, as long as it is manga.”
Without examples of work that goes beyond the mainstream, Boilet is worried.
“I am afraid this trend is going to last. They have no critical faculties, [assuming anything’s good] as long as it is from Japan.
“For me, in Japan, there are very exceptional things being done in manga, which are good for comics everywhere. So what I want to promote is an alternative to the mediocre.”
Well, JAPAN is definitely “an alternative to the mediocre.” It has been hailed by critics and nominated for a Yomi Award for best short or one-shot.