Event Reports

Sousou no Frieren bags Grand Prize at Manga Taisho 2021

Sousou no Frieren colored illustration signed by both Kanehito Yamada and Tsukasa Abe

The Grand Prize Winner

Written by Kanehito Yamada and illustrated by Tsukasa Abe, isekai manga Sousou no Frieren (Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End) takes home the title of Manga Taisho 2021 Grand Prize Winner. Sousou no Frieren is an aftermath story of a group of heroes: Frieren, Himmel, Heiter, and Eisen eighty years after defeating the Demon King. It pivots on how elves live longer lives than humans, how Frieren must grapple with her friends’ mortality as she sees them wither away. This work has been serialized in Shogakukan’s Weekly Shonen Jump since April 2020, with chapters collected in four volumes as of March 2021.

Manga Taisho 2021 logo


What is Manga Taisho?

Manga Taisho, also known as Cartoon Grand Prize, is an annual Japanese manga award that started in 2008. It was conceived out of the idea of recommending an interesting manga one has chanced upon at the moment. It aims to award manga series, both print and digital, with eight or fewer collected volumes published between the start and end of the previous year to promote newer titles.

It is managed by a group of volunteers called the Manga Taisho Executive Committee, who then selects a nominating committee composed of manga lovers directly approached by the committee—they range from bookstore clerks to people of various professional backgrounds.

Previous Manga Taisho winners


So, how does the selection work?

In the first round, each member of the nominating committee will select five works that they would “highly recommend” to others. It is possible to nominate past Grand Prize winners and other nominated works during the first selection round. In the second round, ten manga titles with the highest number of votes will be officially nominated. All members of the nominating committee will read them all and individually choose their top three titles. The results are then tallied to determine the Grand Prize winner.

Manga Taisho 2021 nominees


Manga Taisho 2021 Nominees

For this year’s 14th award ceremony, ten manga titles were nominated. In addition to Sousou no Frieren, the list is as follows (in no particular order):

  • Oshi no Ko by Aka Akasaka and Mengo Yokoyari
  • Chi ―Chikyū no Undō ni Tsuite― by Uoto
  • Spy × Family by Tatsuya Endo
  • Mizu wa Umi ni Mukatte Nagareru by Rettō Tajima
  • BL Metamorphosis by Kaori Tsurutani
  • Kaiju No. 8 by Naoya Matsumoto
  • Kowloon Generic Romance by Jun Mayuzuki
  • Onna no Sono no Hoshi by Yama Wayama
  • Karaoke Iko! by Yama Wayama


Manga Taisho 2021 Event Proper

The event officially commenced with a video highlighting manga titles that won in the previous years, a welcome speech by the emcee, Naoki Yoshida of Nippon Broadcasting System, and an opening speech by Keisuke Ito, one of Manga Taisho’s executive committee members. Manga Taisho 2020 Grand Prize winner Tsubasa Yamaguchi for the manga Blue Period was also present and gave a speech while donning the same eye-catching frog mask she wore the previous year!

Blue Period’s mangaka, Tsubasa Yamaguchi, presents the Manga Taisho 2021 winner, Editor Ogura Katsuma of Sousou no Frieren accepts the award.

A VTR introducing the ten nominated works this year was played, followed by the Grand Prize winner’s announcement by Tsubasa Yamaguchi. Katsuma Ogura, the editor in-charge of Sousou no Frieren, accepted the award, talked about it, and answered a few questions. He also read out messages from writer Kanehito Yamada and illustrator Tsukasa Abe, followed by another round of Q&A from the press.

A special colored illustration of Sousou no Frieren for winning Manga Taisho’s Grand Prize award, Manga Taisho’s beautifully framed award to Kanehito Yamada and Tsukasa Abe


Q&A with Blue Period‘s Tsubasa Yamaguchi

Wearing her trademark green frog headgear, Tsubasa Yamaguchi went up the stage and answered questions with great poise from the emcee.

When asked about the aftermath of Manga Taisho 2020, whether she got any response after winning the award, Yamaguchi relayed that she received a letter from her junior high school nurse congratulating her for winning after the latter saw the award ceremony on TV. An exchange that made her realize that this is an award that reaches far and wide.

 Tsubasa Yamaguchi answering questions from the emcee


The emcee brought up the topic of the Blue Period being used on a TV commercial (Bourbon’s Alfort CM) and asked Yamaguchi her thoughts when she was first approached for a commercial proposal, to which she honestly answered that she was pretty surprised by it. “What? Why do they want to use this?” recalled Yamaguchi. She explained that she thinks it’s uncommon for TV commercials to use materials that haven’t been made into a drama, TV animation, or something else, so she was really astonished when told that the other party was quite interested in using her work.

They also talked about Blue Period‘s upcoming TV animation that was announced last January 19, 2021—its main theme, challenges to creators who will be in charge of breathing life to the animation with “moving pictures,” and her expectations. Yamaguchi

responded that she’s looking forward to the fact that they’re going to recreate it, or rather interpret it, and make it into a new anime. She also added that she would be involved in the production and thus genuinely excited about it.

Lastly, the emcee asked Yamaguchi about her ongoing manga Blue Period, if there is anything that she has learned or has gotten used to that will help her with the manga, to which Yamaguchi replied, “The award that I received last year here is displayed in front of me on my wall, so I look at it every once in a while and get energized, and feel like I can do my best.” The emcee then thanked Yamaguchi for accepting the award and jokingly added that he’s really glad that she accepted the trophy because sometimes, the creators come and say, “Oh, I don’t need that.” but then they get carried away and still give them the award. “So, thank you very much,” he pressed on.

That’s all for the first half of the awarding ceremony. Look forward to Part 2 with the Q&A with Sousou no Frieren‘s Editor, Mr. Oguma.


Manga Taisho 2021

Date and time March 16, 2021 (Tue)
Place Tokyo
Official Site https://www.mangataisho.com/index.html (in Japanese only)


Sources (in Japanese only):

Manga Taisho Official Twitter Account:

Manga Taisho 2021 (Video):

Manga Taisho 2021 Press Release (PDF):


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