sma21 swa1 sma21

Message from Judges

We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who submitted their works for the first SMA Script Writing Audition. With this new endeavor, we searched the world for ideas with the potential to become original manga, and received far more submissions than expected. Unlike silent manga, which does not contain dialogue, it took quite some time to go through the vast amounts of text we received. However, each judge read through every submission with deep interest.

Unfortunately, none of the entries were fully appropriate for a commercial manga, and so no winners were selected for the Grand Prix or the Grand Prix Runner-Up. However, there were many submissions with promising characters and worlds, and of the 37 submissions that made it to the final stage of judging, we awarded Excellence Awards to four outstanding works based on the judges’ votes.

What left a lasting impression was the overwhelming number of fantasy works and the high level of creativity involved in crafting the worlds in which the stories unfolded. On the other hand, it was unfortunate that, overall, the stories lacked compelling characters, which is the most crucial aspect of manga. Below, you will find my advice for creating compelling characters, which I hope all of you will read and take to heart.

Although we honestly could not say that any of the works reached the level expected for an original manga, by evaluating original works by authors around the world, we now understand what we need to communicate to all of you in order to promote the creation of works with solid characters and stories. Therefore, we would once again like to sincerely thank everyone who submitted an original work.

The date for the next audition is not yet decided, but we would like to work hard to offer similar opportunities in the future, so we ask for your continued support. Thank you very much!

- SMA Editorial Dept.

Creating Original Characters for Manga

The Four “What Ifs”

Japanese manga has long emphasized the importance of creating compelling characters. The fundamental approach to manga has long been to create characters that readers can admire by thinking about the four “what ifs”: “What if a character had this personality?”, “What if they had this ability?”, “What if this item existed?”, “What if someone lived in a world like this?”, and then expanding the idea from there.

“Exaggeration”, “Gap”, and “Sympathy”

Many compelling characters embody three elements: an exaggerated caricature, a personality “gap”, and the sympathy of the readers. For example, the protagonist of the film Indiana Jones, which is famous globally, possesses these three characteristics: he is the world’s greatest adventurer (exaggeration), he is a renowned professor at a prestigious university (gap), and he is afraid of snakes (the audience’s sympathy). These traits represent the protagonist’s unique abilities and principles, which endear him to the audience, and show his human charm. These three elements are particularly vital for the protagonists of Japanese manga.

I sincerely hope you will take this advice into consideration, and that it will spur you to create even more fascinating characters in the future!

The total number of SWA1 applicants

78 Countries
604 Entries
430 Creators

Out of the six works that made it to the final round, four were selected to receive Excellence Awards.

Congraulations!

Excellence Award

Excellence ¥10,000

TITLE

LAST MEAL

CREATOR

Serikana

COUNTRY

INDONESIA

Summary

LAST MEAL tells the story of those who have recently passed away before they go to the afterlife. Every time a person dies, they find themselves in a mysterious restaurant called The Last Restaurant. In that restaurant, there is a chef named Masafumi Kazue. Kazue can cook any meal that the customers who come to the restaurant want. The restaurant serves any kind of cuisine that customers wish to have as their last meal.

Comment from SMA Editorial Dept.

Despite dealing with the heavy theme of death, the setting and world-building were enjoyable and easy to understand. We found the way that Gino’s past and the meaning behind his actions were revealed through food to be very moving. However, the development from the middle to the end felt somewhat monotonous and predictable, so structuring the story in such a way that the emotional peak occurs simultaneously at the climax of the story would make it more memorable. Additionally, clearly depicting Kazue’s goals and emotions would make it easier for readers to empathize with her.

Excellence Award

Excellence ¥10,000

TITLE

Monster Attorney

CREATOR

Remi le Oduen

COUNTRY

RUSSIA

Summary

A court room is packed with observers, and in the defendant’s chair, currently on trial for murder there is… a vampire. In the Silver Archipelago, where monsters and humans live together, monsters are often discriminated against, and find themselves unfairly disadvantaged in court. However, there is one lawyer who specializes in defending monsters: Crass Caton. Crass asks the presiding judge for permission to investigate his client’s case further in order to protect him from the anti-monster prosecutors who relentlessly attack him. This is the story of a lawyer who fights to protect innocent monsters.

Comment from SMA Editorial Dept.

The setting was both unique and easy to understand. It is always a good idea to get inspiration from media that has already proved to be a success story, and it is evident that you have already mastered that. You also introduced the case very well, and the protagonist had a clear goal. The actions the protagonist took to resolve the story’s conflict and prove his client’s innocence were very enjoyable. However, it felt that the antagonist’s motive was too convenient to the story, and if there were some additional emotional conflict connecting the protagonist and the antagonist, it would make the whole case more enjoyable and the ending of the story more fulfilling.

Excellence Award

Excellence ¥10,000

TITLE

亡国の魔術遣い(The Exiled Magician)

CREATOR

YUUYA

COUNTRY

JAPAN

Summary

Edgar and his brother, Eugene, live in a port town with a group of war orphans. There, they make a living patrolling the sea for pirates and protecting the town. The brothers befriend a girl named Noel, who is locked away in a mansion within the town, and they communicate with her through a gem embedded in the engine of their minesweeper, which pulses with light. Eventually, Eugene leaves to join the navy, after which Edgar spends much of his time worrying about the two people dearest to him: Noel and his brother. One day, Noel’s mansion explodes. Edgar leaps to Noel’s rescue, and he successfully saves her life. Edgar brings Noel back to the orphanage, but the attack continues, and the orphans, who are Edgar’s beloved family, are all killed. Suddenly Eugene appears in front of the only two survivors: Edgar and Noel. In a heart-wrenching twist, Edgar discovers that Eugene ordered the attack. In that moment, Edgar’s journey for revenge against his brother begins.

Comment from SMA Editorial Dept.

The story was intriguing, and it left us curious as to how the protagonist, who lost their family and their home, will seek revenge. However, it’s unfortunate that the characters’ personalities don’t seem to shine through quite yet. What are the protagonist’s strengths and weaknesses? Why did the protagonist’s brother’s personality change so drastically? What abilities does the girl possess? We believe that depicting the characters’ principles and abilities would make the story even more compelling!

Excellence Award

Excellence ¥10,000

TITLE

Harbinger’s Aide

CREATOR

Hoshi

COUNTRY

INDIA

Summary

In the ordinary hustle of daily life, Naomi’s spontaneous decision thrusts her into the realm of immortals and celestial authorities. Bound by an unexpected contract with heaven, she finds herself as assistant to the grim reaper. Infused with heavenly powers, Naomi navigates the mortal world alongside her skeletal companion, witnessing existence through a newfound lens. Despite the challenges, she fearlessly presses on.

Comment from SMA Editorial Dept.

The impulsive, yet headstrong, main character was very enjoyable, and the silly way she died was very funny! Her death showed the readers exactly what kind of person she is. However, the story does not move forward very much in the first chapter, and it lulled a bit after the main character’s death. If there were more hints as to the world the main character will soon join and the powers she will receive, as well as more attempts to escape death’s messengers, the build up would be more suspenseful, and the reveal would be more satisfying to readers.

Excellence Award Nominee

TITLE

Lucy Lucy

CREATOR

David Plum

COUNTRY

UNITED STATES

Summary

Lucy Lucy is the story of a normal girl cursed with the face of a killer. Lucy, a kind-hearted young woman, moves into a technologically advanced new town. Within just two weeks of moving, she finds that she is being targeted by a group of assassins for seemingly no reason. What she soon discovers, however, is that she looks exactly like the city’s formerly most-wanted assassin! With the help of a comical, yet dangerous bodyguard, she only has one goal: escape!

Comment from SMA Editorial Dept.

The story involving underworld residents with a grudge against the assassin Charlotte, who the ordinary Lucy gets mistaken for, was very enjoyable! Multiple characters, such as Smith and Epsilon, appear in the story, but if each character were written in greater depth, it would have made the story much easier to follow. For example, Smith saves Lucy, but since he loses to Epsilon, it seems like he’s not strong enough to really save Lucy. Thinking about each character’s purpose within the story would make this work even better.

Excellence Award Nominee

TITLE

We, the Deadly Seniors

CREATOR

Sarava

COUNTRY

BRAZIL

Summary

The alien invaders are winning. Humanity is perishing. But our scientists can now give super powers to individuals… as long as they are seniors. Touta, a faded actor from an 80’s tokusatsu, convinces his former co-stars to put on their old spandex, volunteer in the Super Seniors Program, and kick some alien ass! Gruesome death awaits, but for the seniors, or for the aliens?

Comment from SMA Editorial Dept.

There have been many works featuring superheroes in recent years, but the concept of portraying seniors as superheroes was very surprising and enjoyable. Conversely, the relationships between each hero are perhaps too complex, making it difficult to understand where readers’ main source of enjoyment lies within the story. I thought that focusing more on the novelty of seniors being superheroes and simplifying the story a bit would make it even better.

SMA21