Umino manga wins Cartoon Grand Prize 2011

Translated by The Asahi Shimbun from the website of Anime Anime Japan Ltd.

“March Comes In Like a Lion,” a manga series by Chika Umino, won the Cartoon Grand Prize 2011 this month.

Running in Hakusensha Inc.’s biweekly Young Animal comic magazine since 2007, the story revolves around young “shogi” (Japanese chess) players.

It was the title’s second nomination since 2009, when it ranked third. Two years after losing that close competition, the comic this year took the top spot by a large margin of votes.

Umino is best known for “Honey and Clover,” which was adapted into an animated TV series. She is also noted for her character designs for the “Eden of the East” TV series.

“I am just overwhelmed with joy,” Umino said in a statement.

The nominees were announced Jan. 17. The nomination committee, mainly comprising bookstore staffers across Japan, cast the ballots.

In the first round, 89 members of the committee chose 13 finalists. In the second round, judges read all volumes of the 13 finalists and voted on their choice for the top titles. The title that gained the most votes won the grand prize. “A Bride’s Story” by Kaoru Mori and “I Am a Hero” by Kengo Hanazawa won the second and third prizes, respectively.

The grand prize winner was to have been announced at a ceremony in Tokyo, but it was cancelled in the aftermath of the devastating March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake. The news was instead posted at the official website.

The Cartoon Grand Prize was inaugurated in 2008 by a group of bookstore staffers and other manga enthusiasts.

Many other manga-related awards are organized by professional manga artists and editors. But the Cartoon Grand Prize is considered a major honor as it reflects the choices of general manga readers.

Manga series whose number of volumes have totaled eight or less are eligible for the award.

Because of this unique point, the prize has become a focus of attention despite its short history.

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