The Kodansha Manga Awards is an annually recurring occasion to celebrate the best Manga of the year. First started in the year 1977 by the company Kodansha, it currently gives out awards in three categories – shoujo, shonen, and general. Followers of the award would know how prestigious it is for a mangaka to get this honor and it is always the go-to for the best anime of the season.
This year marked the 46th year and the following article is to tell you about the 14 nominees that were announced in the mentioned three categories. Many recent popular series has also been nominated – Frieren and A Couple of Cuckoos to name a few.
With the list having been announced, discussions on anime Twitter, and Reddit have taken by storm! Kodansha will soon be announcing the winner for each category on May 11! Without further ado, here is the list of the following nominations:
BEST SHONEN MANGA
Shangri-La Frontier (Weekly Shonen Magazine)
Shangri-La Frontier is a shonen manga written by Ryosuke Fuji and Katarina and was first published in May 2017. What is interesting about it is that there has been no printed version of the manga as of yet, and is available only through online modes.
The plot revolves around Rakurou Hizutome, a second-year high school student who is only interested in one thing – finding “shitty games” and winning them. His gaming abilities are sub-par, and there is no game too difficult for him. So when he’s shown the new VR game Shangri-La Frontier, he does what he is best at and bypasses the prologue to get right to the action. However, this is not your regular game and hides a lot of secrets from Rakurou.
A Couple of Cuckoos (Weekly Shonen Magazine)
This is a shonen manga that involves a 16-year-old super studious boy named Nagi Umino, who is a second-year student at the Megurogawa Academy high school. The twist in his story is that he was switched at birth – and one day, on his way to see his birth parents for dinner, he encounters Erika Amano, a boisterous, opinionated woman who is determined to make Nagi her pretend lover because she never wants to marry.
As you may have guessed, Nagi discovers that Erika is the person he was switched at birth with – but what’s more, his parents want him to marry her! Miki Yoshikawa is the artist who had originally published this as a one-shot in September 2019, before beginning serialization in Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen Magazine in January 2020.
The Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (Monthly Shonen Sirius)
An insanely popular series, The Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is also one of the 14 nominees. The famous series was first created by Fuse as a light novel and illustrated by Mitz Vah. It then quickly gained a manga adaptation published by Kodansha itself and then proceeded to become an animated series by Eight Bit.
The plot revolves around Satoru Mikami who is stuck in a dead-end job and dissatisfied with his ordinary life. One day, after dying at the hands of a robber, he wakes up in a magical realm as a slime monster. The isekai anime follows his adventures with the other monsters as they set off a chain of events that transforms his new life forever and he adjusts to his slimy new form.
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (Shogakukan Weekly Shonen Sunday)
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End or Frieren is a manga series written by Kanehito Yamada and illustrated by Tsukasa Abe. The manga had over 5.6 million copies in circulation as of February 2022. Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End earned the 14th Manga Taisho and the New Creator Prize of the 25th annual Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize.
The plot states that adventure is finished, but life carries on for an elf magician who is only learning what it means to live. Frieren, an elf mage, and her brave companions have destroyed the Demon King and restored peace to the land. However, Frieren will outlive the rest of her previous group. The series takes us on her journey to learn the meaning of life and what it means to people. Frieren is confronted with her near-immortality at the funeral of one of her companions, decades after their victory. She sets out to fulfill her comrades’ final wishes and finds herself embarking on a new adventure.
BEST SHOJO MANGA
Nina the Starry Bride (Be Love)
The Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Rikachi was first serialized in October 2019 by Be Love. This shojo series revolves around our independent and witty protagonist Nina who has had a rough start in life. She stole to survive, and her brother eventually sold her into slavery. However, her captor, Prince Azure, surprises her by declaring that she would live the life of a princess – in place of Alisha, a recently murdered princess priestess.
Despite her newfound affluence, Nina isn’t willing to give up her old life without a fight, and Azure may be the person who can finally match her wits. Nina’s path of thrills, drama, and, most significantly, romance is chronicled in the series.
In the Clear Moonlit Dusk (Dessert)
Mika Yamamori is the creator of In the Clear Moonlit Dusk which is a shojo series that was first serialized in July 2020, as of November 2021, the series has had three volumes. Yoi Takiguchi, our protagonist, is known as the school’s “prince” because of her boyishly attractive appearance which makes all the girls swoon.
She prefers to ignore the attention she receives and goes about her business – that is, until the school’s other prince, Kohaku Ichimura, enters her life and compliments her, calling her beautiful. He’s the first boy to recognize her as a girl, and her attempts to distance herself are unsuccessful because he appears to have set his sights on her. Yoi tries to convince herself that it’s nothing serious, but she can’t help but notice the stir Kohaku induces in her heart.
A Sign of Affection (Dessert)
A Sign of Affection is a shojo series written and illustrated by Suu Morishita which first began serialization in July 2019. The writing duo Suu Morishita revealed in an interview with Kodansha USA that they opted to create the major theme as sign language because they were both interested in the idea.
The plot goes the following way; Yuki is a typical college student, interested only in her friends, social networking, and the current sales. However, when she meets Itsuomi-san, a friend-of-a-friend and fellow student, by coincidence on a train, her world begins to expand. Even though Itsuomi-Kun can communicate in three languages, sign language is not one of them. The story follows the budding relationship between the two as they learn to communicate each other’s feelings.
My Happy Marriage (Gangan Online)
Watashi bo Shiawase na Kekkon or My Happy Marriage is a Japanese light novel series written by Ajumi Agitogi and illustrated by Tsukiho Tsukioka which was first serialized in January 2019. In the web manga category of the Next Manga Awards in 2020, the manga adaption placed ninth. Takarajimasha’s Kono Manga ga Sugoi! list of top manga for female readers in 2021 placed it sixth.
The plot revolves around Miyo, who is born to a noble family, but raised by her abusive stepmother who married her off to Kiyoka, a soldier with such a cold heart that his previous fiancées abandoned him three days into their engagement. Despite their rough start with a bad first impression, Miyo slowly begins to give her heart to her icy and pallid husband-to-be. The story shows the journey of the duo’s slow but blooming relationship as they try to understand each other’s differences.
BEST GENERAL MANGA
Oshi no Ko (Weekly Young Jump)
Oishi No Ko revolves around Ai Hoshino, a sixteen years old, skilled, and gorgeous idol who is idolized by her followers. She embodies the ideal of a pure, young maiden. Gorou Honda is a gynecologist who lives in the countryside and adores Ai. So he’s perplexed when the pregnant idol shows up at his hospital. Gorou promises her a safe delivery, but his world is turned upside down when he meets a mysterious figure which results in so-called death.
However, he has not died completely as he wakes up in Ai’s lap, reincarnated as her newborn child, Aquamarine Hoshino. Soon, through his new life, he discovers that the road to success in show business is paved with thorns, and talent does not always equal success. This amazing series is written by Aka Akasaka and the beautiful art is illustrated by Mengo Yokoyari.
Skip and Loafer ( Monthly Afternoon, Kodansha )
Skip and Loafer is a manga written and illustrated by Misaki Takamatsu and has been serialized in Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon since August 2018, and as of now, an anime series adaptation has been announced.
The plot follows Mitsumi Iwakura, a girl from a small backwater town in Ishikawa Prefecture, who intends to use her high school career as a steppingstone for her dream of attending law school and working for the government when she shifts to a prestigious school in Tokyo. However, she recognizes the importance of having fun and making friends on occasion. We follow her journey of ambition, emotion, and everyday-school life as she crosses the obstacles of her life step by step in a big town.
Chi: Chikyū no Undō ni Tsuite (Big Comic Spirits)
Uoto is the author and illustrator of Chi: Chikyu no Undo ni Tsuite. On September 14, 2020, the series debuted in Shogakukan’s seinen manga magazine Weekly Big Comic Spirits.
The story is set during the Renaissance when discoveries are only just starting to catch fire in 15th-century Europe, even as individuals who make them are burned for their heresy. Rafal, a Polish kid genius, is anticipated to be the next great theological intellect, but an encounter with a certain individual takes him down a path to heretical truth.
Police in a Pod (Morning, Kodansha)
Police in a Pod, the winner of the 66th Shogakukan Manga award, is illustrated and written by author Miko Yasu. Since November 2017, it has been serialized in Kodansha’s Morning and Nippon TV aired a Japanese television drama adaptation from July to September 2021. It also had an anime adaptation that ran from January to March 2022, produced by Madhouse.
The series follows, Mai Kawai, a new police officer who only took the position because she needed a steady income. She resigns from the police force after becoming disillusioned with her professional path. Seiko Fuji, who had been moved to serve as the director of her station, meets her on the day she planned to present her resignation. Fuji’s commitment to the police force inspires Kawai, who decides to postpone her resignation. The series shows us the adventure of the two and other members of the force, solving crimes in their local area.
Yankee-kun to Hakujo Girl (pixiv, Nico Nico Seiga, Manga Hack)
The plot of Yankee-Kun to Hakujo Girl or The Delinquent and the Girl With the White Cane is as follows: Morio Kurokawa, a high school dropout known as “Morio the Black Panther,” is a notorious delinquent who has won numerous battles against people much older than him. While walking across town with his crew, he meets Yukiko Akaza, a girl with extremely low vision due to an eye condition.
Yukiko refuses to be scared by him, and she runs into Morio again and again, causing him to fall hopelessly in love with her. Every time they meet, Morio’s need to protect her gets stronger, and he learns more about the challenges Yukiko endures daily. The author of the series is Uoyama.
Yakuza Fiance: Raise wa Tanin ga Ii
Yakuza Fiance: Raise wa Tanin ga Ii or Yakuza Fiance is a series Asuka Konishi wrote and illustrated. Since August 2017, it has been serialized in Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon. The plot follows Yoshino Somei who is a high school girl who was born into a yakuza family and reared in one.
Despite her unusual family situation, she has spent her days quietly and calmly. This all changes when she learns that her grandfather has planned for her to marry Kirishima Miyama, the heir of another yakuza family.