Manga Jiman winners capture the Choshu Five for this year’s competition leaflet

Manga Jiman 2013 Competition art
As we previously reported, the search for the best manga talent in the UK is on as London’s Embassy of Japan is now accepting entries for its manga writing competition, Manga Jiman.

First prize winners, Sara Ferreira and Gisela Martins

Sara Ferreira and Gisela Martins, winners of Manga Jiman 2012. Image: The Embassy of Japan

The Embassy recently caught up with Sara Ferreira and Gisela Martins, the winners of last year’s competition, to find out how they won and what they have been getting up to since.

After Portuguese duo Sara and Gisela moved to London to work as illustrators and concept designers, their long-standing interest in manga made them curious about what opportunities there were for mangaka in the UK.

“We were both researching and came across the Manga Jiman website” they told Embassy staff. “This was back in 2011 and unfortunately the deadline had already passed but we made the decision that we would participate in 2012… We are manga fans and striving illustrators and besides wanting to take this challenge, we felt this would be an excellent opportunity to gain a feel for the UK manga scene.”

Having dutifully waited for the 2012 competition to come around, their manga almost did not make it to the Embassy by the given deadline.

“We had to juggle with our work schedule and the little free time we had, and suddenly we were five days away from the delivery date. Fortunately we had written the script before and done the concepts for the characters so not everything was rushed. That and getting lost on our way to the Embassy (twice), one hour before the date was due, made this quite an adventure.”

Luckily, they made the deadline and ‘I Love You’, their “happy, sappy story with a good ending” about a “grumpy boy full of love”, was chosen by the panel of judges as the best entry in 2012 and earned them two return airline tickets to Japan.

Winning the competition has opened up quite a few doors for Sara and Gisela and a proud moment for them was appearing on national television in their home country. “We had spoken to our friends about the victory and written about it on our blog. We weren’t expecting it, but during the following days there were a couple of e-mails from Portuguese newspapers requesting interviews, and soon after we were contacted by RTP 1, the national television channel, asking if we could appear on a morning show via Skype to talk about the contest. While we were discussing details we realised that on the date of the show, we would actually be in Portugal giving workshops at an event called Iberanime LX, and they quickly asked us to be on the show in person. So there we were, hyperventilating and smiling for the cameras.”

Whilst their victory precludes them from entering again this year, the duo have played a role in this year’s competition by providing the artwork for leaflets to promote this year’s challenge.

The design for this year’s Manga Jiman leaflet by Sara Ferreira and Gisela Martins

The final design for this year’s Manga Jiman leaflet

With the theme for the 2013 competition being ‘voyages of discovery’, Sara and Gisela explain the concept behind their design: “We knew that the Embassy would soon release articles about the Choshu Five and, after learning more about them, we fell in love with the spirit and courage of these five young men.

“When we began the first sketches we just knew we had to incorporate them into the leaflet design, which was no easy task as this meant having five characters in a restricted area. We aimed to give them different personalities while merging in their garments Japanese with English elements and (search for them – they’re there!) five koi swimming above Big Ben – referring to the connection to the past and what they contributed to the present. We hope you like it just as much as we did!”

Finally, last year’s winners have some sound advice to those who are thinking about whether to enter this year: “To everyone hesitating, just go for it! You never know until you try and you have nothing to lose! … But organize your time wisely!”

• More details on the competition including the fantastic prizes you can win here

The deadline for receipt of entries is Monday, 4 November 2013.

Please contact with any queries. /MangaJiman

• You can read the winning entries from previous years on the competition’s  My E-book site:

Categories: Comics Competitions, Creating Comics, Featured News

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