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REPORT: KUMAMOTO International MANGA Fes. 2017

Mayuna Mizutani Mayuna Mizutani 07/03/2018 14 min read
The eagerly awaited 2nd “KUMAMOTO International MANGA Fes” will kick off on September 12~17, so here’s the lowdown on what to expect! A celebration of manga, this exclusive manga festival will feature lectures, workshops, a Manga exhibition, “in conversations” with professional Japanese mangaka and the much coveted manga award ceremony for winners of this special round. The 2018 Fes promises to be the biggest and best yet! To give you a taster of the how much fun “KUMAMOTO International MANGA Fes” is, we’ve decided to write up this report of the unforgettable events from the last year’s manga extravaganza. Enjoy!!  

KUMAMOTO International MANGA Fes. 2017

The festival was envisaged to bring smiles, laughter and solidarity from the international manga community to the residents of Kumamoto, following the devastating earthquake, and thus, the “KUMAMOTO International MANGA Fes.” was held in Kumamoto city, April 2017.  

The Manga award – SMA-EX2 “Kumamoto Round 2017”

The SILENT MANGA AUDITION® Committee held an extra round in 2017, called “SMA-EX2 ‘KUMAMOTO Round”. This extra round evaluated worldless manga entries, plus standalone illustrations on the theme of “SMILES & LAUGHTER”, that encapsulated the positive vibes the people of the world wanted to send to the people of Kumamoto. A big thank you to everyone who participated, the committee received over 209 silent manga entries from 39 countries and regions, plus 551 illustrations from 59 countries and regions, within two months! The top award winners were not only invited to Japan to enjoy festival, but also had their work exhibited in the festival hall.  

Silent Manga Exhibition @ 7F of Tsuruya department store (April 15~16th)

The main exhibition hall was set out on the 7th floor of the Tsuruya department store, where they exhibited over 100 manga and illustrations, including the work of the highest achievers, from SMA-EX2. Much to our surprise, the exhibition attracted over 4500 visitors in just two days! We also received over 150,000 views over our various SNS channels, earning a huge media response in the local area. The exhibition also featured message cards from many, popular manga creators, including Tetsuya Chiba sensei (‘Ashita no Joe’), Eiji Kazama sensei (‘Kaze no Daichi’), Eiichiro Oda sensei (‘ONE PIECE’), Takehiko Inoue sensei (‘Vagabond’), Nobuyuki Fukumoto sensei (‘Kaiji’), Kyosuke Usuta sensei (‘Sexy Commando Gaiden: Sugoi yo!! Masaru-san’). These fantastic message cards all featured happy characters, further building on the theme, which brought lots of smiles to all who visited.  

The Opening Event @ 1F at the Tsuruya department store (April 15th, 15:00)

The launch of “KUMAMOTO International MANGA Fes 2017” was held in a celebratory hall on the 1st floor of the Tsuruya department store. The Fes was inaugurated with a greeting from the chairman and award winners, against an enormous mosaic of Kumamoto castle, created from 600 smiling illustrations. The event also features an “in conversation” with manga creator Tsukasa Hojo sensei and Ryuji Tsukihara sensei, followed by a drawing “smiley” workshop, where children and parents drew smiles, together with these legendary manga creators! At the close of the event, these illustrations were added to the Kumamoto castle mosaic and started online.  

Reception Party @ L’celmo Kumamoto (April 15th, 18:00)

A reception party was held at L’celmo Kumamoto, a sumptuous reception hall, attended by the sponsors who helped make the festival happen. The live action, short adaptations of ‘Drawing a Smile Out (Original manga by dee Juusan)’ and ‘Thirty and a Half Minutes (Original manga by Snippy MJ)’ premiered at this event, alongside several motion comic films from the award winning manga of SMA-EX2. Attendees were visibly impressed at the scope and execution of these short films, further exhibiting the strong potential of Silent Manga.  

Tsukasa Hojo & Nobuhiko Horie in conversation @ 7F Tsuruya department store (April 16, 13:00)

In front of local manga students and lucky fans of Hojo sensei, was a first-of-its-kind, public discussion session. These two driving forces of the hugely successful manga franchise, CITY HUNTER, talked in-depth on the subject of manga creation. CITYHUNTER (Shonen JUMP), then ANGEL HEART (Comic BUNCH / Comic ZENON) series were serialised in their respective periodical magazines between 1985-2017, with active spin-offs and adaptations currently in production. Series Creator Hojo Tsukasa and his manga editor Horie Nobuhiko have worked together for 38 years and counting, beginning with Hojo sensei’s debut in 1980. The two shared the many secrets that made Hojo sensei’s series a global phenomenon. The audience were then treated to two more surprise presentations. One was the world premiere of “CITYHUNTER – the final episode”, a short motion comic adaptation using the final pages of CITYHUNTER, much of which were drawn in the SILENT MANGA style. Second, was the edited version of “Hojo Tsukasa – lineworks”, a documentary movie filmed over 10 hours, detailing the events and key visual aspects, featuring 4 characters from ANGEL HEART. From a blank canvas to the finished magnificence, the audience were stunned to witness how his visual magic was applied.  

SMA-EX2 Award Ceremony (April 16, 15:00)

Following on from the hugely enjoyable dialogue, was the SMA-EX2 award ceremony. The award winners were invited to the stage to receive their certificates, directly from the judges themselves. Then followed a screening of their work in the motion comic format, including the two live action shorts alongside their own motion comics, much to the delight of the already enraptured crowd. As an added surprise, the stars of the live action short films made an ‘unscheduled’ appearance, including Kenshiro Kato (lead actor in ‘Drawing a Smile Out‘), Hiroshi Majima (director of ‘Drawing a Smile Out‘), and Yuto Uchiyama (director of ‘Thirty and a Half Minutes’). For an added surprise, motion digitized images from none other than Tetsuo Hara sensei were screened, overwhelming an already excited audience!  

The Airport Exhibition @ Aso-Kumamoto Airport (April 13 ~ May 13)

With the cooperation of the Kumamoto Airport Building Co., the brand imagery of “KUMAMOTO International MANGA Fes 2017” were exhibited in the arrival lobby and the Community Hall of Aso-Kumamoto Airport, for one month. The Airport exhibition was highly received by the many visitors who came to Kumamoto over the Golden Week Holiday.  


“KUMAMOTO International MANGA Fes 2017” proved a huge success, not only in bringing heart-felt smiles to the people of Kumamoto, but also validated the infinite possibilities of manga, ensuring a bright future for unique method of storytelling.   So it seems, the first KUMAMOTO International MANGA Festival was a fantastic success! The joy, passion and love for manga was evident on the faces of all who attended, from local people of Kumamoto to the varied collection of international attendees 😁 But the best news is yet to come! The “2nd KUMAMOTO International MANGA Festival” is now confirmed, and will be taking in September 2018! The event will be much, much bigger in scale and scope, to coincide with “Manga Master’s CAMP KUMAMOTO 2018 (working title)”, where we plan to invite 50 (that’s right, F-I-F-T-Y) creators to take part in this fantastic festival! All you need to win your ticket, is to send us your SILENT MANGA. See you there! Follow me on twitter for more event updates and manga tutorials! Have questions? Requests? Throw it to @SilentMangaComm with #KumamotoMangaFes !  
Mayuna Mizutani

Mayuna Mizutani