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The Magical Art.

Pubdate: (23/05/2012)

TheWeek speaks with some of the winners from the first manga competition held in Muscat

Last week the Japanese Embassy in Oman organised a manga drawing competition at the Scientific College of Design (SCD) as part of the

celebrations of 40 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries. This was the first competition of its kind hosted in the sultanate with youngsters from all over the country submitting their manga creations

for consideration.

"It is only fitting that an art exhibition like this be hosted at the Scientific College of Design," said H E George Hisaeda, Japan's ambassador to Oman. "This is the second time we are holding an event celebrating contemporary and traditio-nal Japanese art here in Oman and the fact that this year we have 44 pieces of manga art made by students makes this even better." A panel of manga enthusiasts, including H E Hisaeda and Ayad Abdullah, dean of SCD, judged the pieces.

Three participants were awarded bronze prizes, two were given silver prizes and the best piece was awar-ded the gold prize. Minami Shoji, one of the judges, was clearly impressed with the standard of manga drawings submitted by students from a country where the art form isn't very popular. "I was quite impressed by the quality of the pieces. Although some of the longer story pieces lack a bit of explanation, they make up for it in their ability to express their emotions in different ways through this traditional Japanese art form," she said.

Esther Daang won the gold prize and a bronze prize. "My pieces In An Artistic Mind and Step Lightly are inspired by quotes from works by Oscar Wilde and Dr Suess. I am a writer and an artist and most of my pieces are inspired by literary works," said the 18 year old Indian School Muscat graduate. "One of the quotes I have based my work on is 'if you treat life artistically, your heart is your mind'." She said that in this part of the world, a lot of people read manga without realising what it really is. "So although people may say they have never heard of that art form before, they might have been reading manga comics all along."

Esther's brother David Daang also took part in the competition and won the silver prize. "I started off as a cartoonist drawing stick figures but I got bored after a while. I started giving my cartoons realistic proportions and for this competition, I changed my character's eyes to give them a typically manga feel," he said. He wants to study animation and one day set up his own company specialising in manga cartoons. "I can't really define manga to you. But the cartoons have this magic and you know it when you see it."

Sara al Hammadi is a graphic design student at SCD and she and her friends have been into manga from a very young age. "We used to watch a lot of anime and manga cartoons when we were little and when we got older, we started drawing our own stuff," said the 18 year old who plans on travelling to Japan to study the art form. Sara won the bronze prize for her piece Power of Emotions, a dark piece emulating her inner turmoil at the time. "I wanted it to be a happy painting, but I was going through a hard time, so what came out was darker than what I had anticipated," she said.

Sara is glad that competitions like this are being held here in Oman now and thinks that this will lead to the art form's popularity here in the sultanate. "A lot of youngsters have started going online to read manga and hopefully as it gets more popular, bookstores will start stocking comics as well."

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Publication:The Week (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:May 27, 2012
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