Manga takes top prize at Angouleme

The Comics Reporter reports that Non Non Ba, by Shigeru Mizuki, took the prize for Best Album at the Festival International de la Bande Dessinee in Angouleme, France. This was the first manga to win that honor, according to reporter Bart Beaty. What, you never heard of it? Christopher Butcher included it in his roundup of French manga a couple of days ago:

So I didn’t recognize the name, but following a viewing of the Takeshi Miike movie “The Great Yokai War” I did a little bit of digging on “yokai”, the various Japanese forest spirits and demons that make up Japanese mythology. It turns out that Shigeru Mizuki is probably the best-known manga-ka of yokai stories, and his ‘Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro’ is considered a shonen horror classic. NonNonbâ appears to be Mizuki’s newest manga, another yokai tale about a boy who befriends a yokai and the problems it causes to his day-to-day life.

More background: This looks like Mizuki’s website, although it’s a bit hard to tell as it’s in Japanese. There’s some author information at the bottom of this page, and NY Arts has a really interesting interview with Mizuki, in which he talks about the origins of his work.

UPDATE: Sebastian leads us to a preview (zipped PDF) in the comments.

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  1. Well, I’ve heard of it, but I’ve never actually seen it in stores, as far as I can recall. In my experience, mangas published by Éditions Cornelius generally are hard to find (at least in Lille and Liège, where I usually shop). And they are very expensive: the winning book clocks in at 29 Euro (that’s about $38) for (admittedly) 424 pages at standard (US) comic book size (the thing weighs 1 kg, apparently).

    The publisher’s website (very user-unfriendly flash, IMHO) is located at Their 10 sample pages for Non Non Ba can be accessed directly here (zipped PDF). Looks interesting enough, but I’d never have expected it to take away that prize.

  2. On the other hand, considering the winners for the other categories (and looking back at the list of nominees) it becomes less unlikely and more inevitable. It’s just that all of it strikes me as much more art-comix (or non-mainstream) oriented than I had thought (but that’s my own fault for not following the awards in previous years closely enough).

  3. Thanks for the link, Sebastian! I was thinking of ordering it for myself, but $38 plus international postage is a bit steep. Maybe I can get Mr. Mangablog to pick it up on his next trip to Geneva.

  4. On the one hand, I’m pleased to see Mizuki’s work [and subsequently manga in Europe] get a nod at Angouleme…while on the other hand, it may send the BD traditionalists denouncing the manga wave into conniptions…

  5. I have the Editions Cornelius version (ordered online through BDNet), and the publisher has certainly spared no effort: pages sewn into the binding, top-quality paper, superb reproduction, six colour pages at the beginning, an Introduction on the author and several pages of notes at the end, which explain not only the references to Japanese folklore and cultural practices, but also to the story’s setting in small-town Japan in the early 1930s. The latter is important: Mizuki is writing for adults, and although his main characters are children (and the grandmotherly NonNonBa), he also shows very clearly the poverty most of them live in, the militarism which is beginning to infiltrate the background of their lives, and the cruelty of a social system which permits an innocent child to be sold to a geisha house. An important title, but not a cosy one.

  6. The Great Yokai War is a great movie. Kinda silly but light-hearted. Kurimiya Chiaki is really hot in the movie. You really know your Yokai after watching the film.

    Yes that is Mizuki Shigeru’s personal website. He is a household name in Japan, kinda like Tetsuka and Miyazaki. A living legend is to put it lightly. Put is this way, as a manga-ka, he’s been given the Medal of the Order of the Rising Sun, one of the highest honor the Japanese govn’t can give to a civilian. That’s how important he is. To offer this award is more akin to a “lifetime achievement” recognition by the French to show the respect they have for a living manga legend. Most kids grew up in post-war Japan learning about the various yokai reading his work. Everyone is more or less familiar with his “Gegege no Kitarou”.

    I’m always impressed at Manga’s ability to allow non-Japanese to want to learn about everyday Japanese culture.

  7. I’ll probably check out “Gegege no Kitarou” first, then. It will be published in France in February as “Kitaro le Repoussant”, also by Cornelius. It’s more affordable, at least (priced at 14 Euros, if is to be believed).