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‘Astra Lost in Space’ Wins Grand Prize at Manga Taisho Awards 2019

As if my inclusion of Shinohara Kenta’s Astra Lost in Space on my list of must-reads via VIZ Media’s free Weekly Shonen Jump service wasn’t enough to get you to check out the compelling science fiction series, then I’m sure the fact that the series just won the grand prize at this year’s prestigious Manga Taisho Awards might compel you to think otherwise.

The Manga Taisho Awards have been going on for 10 years now, and have always been a little bit more credible than your average awards show as the voting committee is made up of bookstore employees instead of your regular panel of “experts.”

Furthermore, rather than focusing on some abstract concept of artistic “brilliance,” the awards instead revolve around the question of what manga you would be most likely to recommend to a friend. The awards also limit eligible series to those who have released under eight volumes, in order to focus the awards on up and coming rather than established series.

Last year’s grand prize went to Paru Itagaki’s BEASTARS, which was a good choice if I do say so myself. Other important winners include Golden Kamuy in 2016, Silver Spoon in 2012 and March comes in like a lion in 2011.

This year, however, thirteen series were nominated for the grand prize from a pool of 247 eligible titles by a committee of 94 voters. A final round was then carried out to determine the winners. The results are as follows:

Grand Prize: Astra Lost in Space – Shinohara Kenta

2nd Place: Mystery to Iu Nakare – Tamura Yumi

3rd: The Blue Period – Yamaguchi Tsubasa

4th: Ikkou Nikki – Yamashita Tomoko

5th: Sazan to Suisei no Shoujo – Yuriko Akase

6th: Hokuhokusei ni Kumo to Ike – Irie Aki

7th: Kegoji-san wa Mendokusai – Toyoda Minoru

8th: Metamorphose no Engawa – Tsurutani Kaori

9th: Hakumei & Mikochi: Tiny Little Life in the Woods – Kashiki Takuto

10th: Nagi no Oitoma – Konari Misato

11th: Delicious in Dungeon – Kui Ryoko

12th: Golden Gold – Horio Seita

13th: 1122 – Watanabe Peko

Some of the above titles have been licensed and translated into English, but due to how the awards tend to skew towards newer series, many of them have yet to make their way to the West. That being said, it’s definitely worth checking them all out if you can – the Taisho Awards have a pretty good track record of selecting works that later go on to blow up.

Finally, I’m very happy that Astra Lost in Space picked up the grand prize. Shinohara Kenta’s latest series has been one of the best sci-fi offerings in recent years and is available for a steal via VIZ Media’s free Weekly Shonen Jump. No doubt Kenta will be raising a glass or two over the next couple of days to celebrate his immense achievement.

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