There are a number of different groups and events that give out manga awards each year, but in 2021 we have something unique and fitting with the times: the Corona Manga Grand Prix awards. The brain child of CoV-Navi (a COVID information service overseen by physicians and health professionals) and Manga Tari Co., the Corona Manga Grand Prix awards is for manga that helps people understand COVID and its vaccines, and helps fight against misinformation and conspiracy theories.
Almost one hundred manga were submitted for consideration. At the end of the day, the winner of the grand prize was a mangaka who goes by 15-san. The manga in question is called Shōgeki no Shinjitsu! Manga de Wakaru! Shingata Coronavirus Vaccine no Shōtai (which is translated as The Shocking Truth! Understand with Manga! The Identity of the Vaccine for the New Coronavirus).
15-san credited wanting to protect her son as the impetus for creating this manga. She wants it to be enjoyable and helpful and not freak people out or make them feel berated.
The panel of judges included some very interesting people. There’s mangaka Ryo Koshino of Machi-Isha Jumbo; Cork, Inc. president and editor Yohei Sadoshima; manga critic Kanako Wakui; Manga Tari president Yuta Maeda; and CoV-Navi representative Takahiro Kinoshita.
Manga have been used before this to help fight COVID. Cells at Work! finished off with COVID, and this was shared by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. The Golgo 13 manga has been used to encourage people to get vaccinated.
Rieux wo Machi Nagara (translated as While Waiting for Rieux) is an older manga that got a rerun by Kodansha last year. It’s not about COVID, but it’s about a plague, so the same points of being careful and taking care of your health were there.
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, and its sequel, Manga Art for Intermediates, with professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.