Czech graphic novel received a prestigious award in Japan

18. 1. 2022 | News

graphics novelThe University of West Bohemia is very proud of its Faculty of Arts. Their students won the third place in a prestigious competition Japan International Manga Award for the best comics of 2021. It’s historically the first time a Czech graphic novel won in Japan. The jury consisted of renowned manga artists and translators.

The victorious work called IOGI started back in 2019 when the comic artist Václav Šlajch visited Japan, being sent there for a work trip because the Faculty of Arts cooperates internationally with Musashino Art University. Inspired, Šlajch then asked the poet Jean-Gaspard Páleníček to write scripts depicting everyday life in Japan that would be far from our traditional imagery of robots, geishas and otakus.

Based on Páleníček’s scripts, the students created a series of graphic short stories. They were supposed to prove not only their artistic and storytelling skills but also their ability to cooperate internationally. Thanks to the original idea to show the mundane side of life in Japan, they were forced to let go of their cultural prejudices and do research about real Japan that’s far from its manga, anime and pop culture.

The result was a graphic novel that was unusual in its depiction of common people living mainly in Suginami, near the train station Iogi at the suburbs of Tokyo. It shows their desires, everyday worries, how they experience their little joys (family, personal interests, nature), tragic events (divorce, a sick child) but also their own prejudices about Europe.

The book was published in Japanese but Czech, English and French translations are in the making.  IOGO was presented at two exhibitions in Tokio and Susaki, more places to follow in 2022. Its exhibition in the Czech Republic is also in the making. Let’s hope the English version of this intriguing 180-pages long graphic novel will be out soon for everyone to read and enjoy.