So as many of you know, I decided to enter the SacAnime Manga Contest this year with "Magical Girl, Inc."
Here's the list of all of the entries for the Manga Contest for the Summer 2015 Manga Contest:
And here are the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners:
While I am certainly happy that I won 1st Place, I really think that there were other entries that were a bit more deserving of 2nd and 3rd place.
My personal favorites for this year were "Alpaca's Friends" by Chibi Fang, "Noun" by Sid Sydelle, and "Nightfall" by Carrol N.
"Alpaca's Friends" had a cute storyline about the importance of valuing friends, and how even people with annoying tendencies can be good friends at their very core. I like that it was set in a kindergarten, the perfect place for kids to learn lessons like that, especially through storybooks.
"Noun" was a post-apocalyptic story with a very interesting and appreciated TWEEST at the end (which I won't spoil). What I really liked about it is that it introduced the concept of artificially intelligent creations called Nouns (hence the title) whose existence was solely to provide their human masters with entertainment and cater to their wishes. Sure, it's a little predictable that robots would revolt and drive humanity off the planet, but again, the TWEEST at the end is what I liked and really brought it together.
"Nightfall" also had an interesting message about inner beauty, though I wish the author would have emphasized it a bit more. A girl doesn't have the courage to speak to her crush because she thinks that she's ugly, so she wishes to be beautiful. A little fairy (who apparently is cursed to dwell in the human world until he does a good deed for a human) grants her exquisite beauty that lasts from "sundown to sunrise". The author goes for a cold-open style intro, which I do not feel did it justice for all the elements it was trying to cover. I truly feel that the first page would have been better utilized as actual panels introducing the story/plot, because it feels that the author only gets a bit of their story off the ground.
These three entries had their weaknesses, yes, but I still found them to be leagues better than what was picked for 2nd and 3rd place.
The 2nd place entry was "Only Human" by Janet R. There's not so much story there, as there is an ongoing rant about the terrible things humans do. The main character isn't so much a character as he is a soapbox. But criticism aside, I like that the main character's goal is ultimately hypocritical... He blames humans for all the terrible things they do to each other, how they're cruel, how they hurt each other endlessly and needlessly, and how he doesn't want to be associated with such a wantonly hateful race. Robots, on the other hand, are perfect beings in his mind; they are not dictated by petty grievances or racism/sexism/etc. He has two goals: to become a robot... And to eliminate every human on earth after he becomes a robot. So really, he's not into fixing the problem of humanity; he's only promulgating it. Interesting premise, I admit, but I think it needs something else to strengthen it.
The 3rd place entry was "Going Out of Style" by Lemonylulu. The artwork is phenomenal to a point; the artist opts for utilizing simplified "restroom marker" people outside of their fantastic artwork for their main character. I found it a little jarring, especially in scenes that are supposed to be full of high-energy dialogue and accusations. At first glance I was intrigued by the story, which seemed to be set up as "after you die, you have to go to a courtroom to prove that you were a good person." But the main character isn't a person... She's a fad. So when a fad goes out of style, it essentially "dies." From a graphic perspective, it's a stylish piece of work. Unfortunately, I think the concept needed some work, perhaps with developing the main character's desperation to prove their worth by mentioning how people had once utilized her to define themselves/express themselves. That, or perhaps the main character could have defended herself by explaining why she'd come into being or why her presence had spread throughout society. But it doesn't really go that deep, and again, this is just my opinion.
Ultimately, I feel that "Noun" should have placed because I thought it had good combination of good artwork and story. But that's just me. If you've got the time to read these other entries, feel free to drop your two cents in here!