With the ever-growing presence of Japanese media abroad, fans of various mediums might sometimes find themselves at a loss as to which series to begin next. Fortunately, a massive poll has now made the process much easier by picking out the cream of the crop as chosen by the Japanese public.
Sponsored by Japanese newspaper the Yomiuri Shinbun, Sugoi Japan recently held its first Grand Prix to determine which works in four categories–manga, anime, light novel, and entertaining novel–people deemed most worthy of being introduced abroad. Though the choice of Attack on Titan as the top manga will surprise few, given its explosive popularity, the winner of the anime category might catch some by surprise.
The award was established last year to mark the 140th anniversary of the Yomiuri Shinbun. Among works released between January 1, 2005 and July 31, 2014 (hence, no Neon Genesis Evangelion, Dragon Ball, etc.), voters were asked to choose those which they would like to see gain greater recognition around the world or which they thought most likely to prove successful with foreign audiences.
The list of choices, which included both expert and general recommendations, comprised a total of 203 works. Participants could cast three votes in each category any time between October 1 and December 31, 2014.
Attack on Titan won over the agriculture-themed Silver Spoon and volleyball shōnen Haikyū! to take the top manga prize. Meanwhile, Magical Girl Madoka Magica, a dark take on the popular “magical girl” genre, emerged victorious in the anime category with a total of 77,631 votes.
Iwakami Atsuhiro, the Aniplex producer of Madoka, was present at the award ceremony to collect the prize. He commented:
“Anime as a genre has had a big impact these past ten years, even while undergoing many changes–for example, the birth of late-night anime and hit series. I think this award proves just how active the industry has been. I want to carry Japan’s creative works abroad, so I’d like to see them gain even greater recognition at home.”
Foreign publishers and filmmakers are certainly keeping a close eye on products from Japan. For example, one prominent contest endorsement comes from none other than Guillermo del Toro, the acclaimed director and self-proclaimed Japan fanatic whose film Pacific Rim (2013) notably paid homage to the mecha genre. In a statement on the Sugoi Japan website, he writes:
“The Sugoi Japan project will reveal amazing Japanese properties that will enrich the exchange of ideas, characters and stories that has connected both hemispheres of the globe for centuries now. I, for one, couldn’t be more eager to discover them and be stimulated by their great creativity and originality.”
Take a look below for the top ten in the four categories. Personally, we found our to-read list just doubled looking through these.
■ Manga Top 10
1. Attack on Titan
2. Silver Spoon
4. March Comes in Like a Lion
5. Space Brothers
7. One-Punch Man
8. A Bride’s Story
9. Saint Young Men
10. Assassination Classroom
■ Anime Top 10
1. Magical Girl Madoka Magica
2. Tiger and Bunny
3. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
5. Love Live!
7. Attack on Titan
8. Natsume’s Book of Friends
■ Light Novel Top 10
1. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU
2. Sword Art Online
3. Spice and Wolf
4. No Game No Life
5. Humanity Has Declined
7. The Irregular at Magic High School
8. Baka and Test
9. Horned Owl and King of the Night
10. My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute
■ Entertainment Novels Top 10
1. Library War
2. From the New World
3. The Night is Short, Start Walking Young Maiden
4. Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer
6. Genocidal Organ
8. Accuracy of Death
9. The Glorious Team Batista
10. It’s Me, It’s Me