Epic. Innovative. Intimate. These were the adjectives used by the jury to describe Sakana Sakatsuki Planetarium Ghost Travel, which won the 2023 BolognaRagazzi Award for Comics in the Young Adult category. The 256-page book by Tokyo-based PIE International revolves around philosophical and emotional musings – for example, on the loneliness, restlessness and grief of a young space traveler.
The peculiarity of Planetarium Ghost Travel lies in its three-part composition where each section expresses a different visual style. “The first chapter is a collection of illustrations like an art book,” said editor Kaori Saito. “The second and fourth chapters, respectively titled ‘The Sleepless Boy Goes to the Moon’ and ‘The Journey of the Two Tobiases’, have picture book-style illustrations and short poetic text, while the third chapter is a monochrome manga. The four chapters—resembling an elaborate puzzle, but with enough ambiguity to spark the reader’s imagination—are tied together by a theme color, which is a deep blue to represent the tranquil sci-fi world. “
In terms of production, two types of paper were used. “For the monochrome manga, we chose a paper with a slight yellow tint to better match the atmosphere of the story, which is bathed in soft night light,” said Saito. “The remainder of the pages were printed on a paper that best reproduces the colors of the author’s original color illustrations. By using these two types of paper, we are able to create different impressions and moods within a single book.”
The textured cloth book jacket hides a surprise. “When the reader removes the jacket, several illustrations are revealed that exist in the book but are not drawn in detail – the plan of the hotel room and the cafe menu, for example,” said Saito. “This gaming element is our way of entertaining the reader.”
Planetarium Ghost Travel is set in the same universe as the author’s popular manga series Hoshitabi Shounen (ie Star Trek). The latter’s first volume is PIE International’s best-selling manga with around 42,000 copies in circulation. both Planetarium Ghost Travel AND Star Trek will be translated into Simplified Chinese in 2024.
For president Hiromoto Miyoshi, winning the BolognaRagazzi award is an exciting and surprising occasion. “We started Star Trek web-manga series only about two years ago and decided to publish its paper edition last April,” said Miyoshi, who is at the Bologna Book Fair with his team to further promote and sell. Planetarium Ghost Travel. “The creation of this award category marks a new trend in children’s book publishing and is a reflection of the global popularity of comics.”
back home, Planetarium Ghost Travel won the Jury Selections Award in the manga category at the 25th Japan Media Arts Festival, which received more than 3,500 entries from 95 countries and regions around the world. How much for Star Trekcame fifth in the female reader category in the popular and influential annual Kono Manga ga Sugoi (This Manga is Amazing) competition.
The Japanese manga industry, Miyoshi said, “is growing rapidly not only in sales, but also in its variety. Many publishers are entering this segment and using their unique capabilities. For PIE International, our strengths come from our origins as design book publishers and thus our goal is to create and publish quality manga that are not only unique and entertaining, but also offer great visual aesthetics.
It is truly surprising that PIE International is the first Japanese publisher to win the BolognaRagazzi Award for Comics since the category’s inception in 2020. Japan is, after all, known for its manga and manga artists (or mangaka) and is the largest comic market in the world with a share of about 43%. (South Korea, the US, and France are the three main markets for upcoming comics.)
According to the Tokyo-based Publishing Research Institute, overall manga sales in Japan in 2022 were estimated at 677 billion yen (or $4.97 billion), a marginal increase of 0.2% compared to last year’s 10% increase. when people stayed. indoors during the pandemic and read more. However, manga sales were at a record high for three consecutive years now and accounted for 41.5% of the total Japanese publishing market, surpassing 40% for the second consecutive year.
Sales of digital comics grew 8.9% last year to reach 447.9 billion yen ($3.29 billion), representing roughly 89.3% of the country’s digital publishing market while print comics saw a 13.4% decline compared to with 2021.
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