Sakatsuki Sakana’s Speech at the Bologna Ragazzi Award Winners’ Event
“I want to turn readers into voyagers traveling freely through this strange universe, relying on fragmented stories”: Sakatsuki Sakana’s Speech at the Bologna Ragazzi Award Winners’ Event
Planetarium Ghost Travel: The Art of Sakatsuki Sakana, published in April 2021, is the winner of the Bologna Ragazzi Award 2023 in the COMICS – YOUNG ADULT category. Here is the speech given by the author Sakana Sakatsuki on Tuesday, March 7th at an event held for the award winners at the Bologna Book Fair in Italy.
▼Press Release About the Winners (Japanese)
【Speech by Sakatsuki Sakana】
Hello everyone. My name is Sakana Sakatsuki. I’m so honored to receive this award. I want to thank the jury, the publisher, my family, and the readers who have always supported me. Thank you all so much. I created Planetarium Ghost Travel as a record of a space journey to somewhere else. There are four parts.
Part one is a collection of scenery paintings made to look like travel photos.
Part two is like a picture book about a sleepless boy who takes a short trip through a distant universe.
Part three is a short manga about a boy who travels to different planets.
Part four is like a picture book that talks about the past of the boy in Part three.
Each episode might seem like an independent story at first, but they are all related. It’s like finding out that all the little rocks you found on the ground were once part of meteorites that came from the same place. I wanted readers to become travelers who can move freely through this strange universe guided by bits of information.
The main thing I wanted to show is nighttime. I like the solitude of night. That’s when light looks the most beautiful. With this book, I wanted to draw many lights at night and share them with someone. All the episodes are set in a “quiet, blue night.” I especially wanted to show different blues. The darker the night sky, the more stars you can see. You can also see many lights from houses and cars. You can’t reach the stars or see people’s faces in the dark. You can only sense signs of life from a distance. Anyone who thinks the blues at nighttime are beautiful will like this book. I hope this book will be like a small star that shines by the bedside, lighting up the hearts of those who read it. Thank you.
【Question for the Author】
ーWhat was the first concept of your manga and what models inspired you?
I was really thinking about “comfortable loneliness.” In our lives, people will leave us, and we will feel lonely. I want to make this loneliness a little more comfortable. I want to feel more positive about it. I took inspiration from overseas children’s literature like “The Little Prince” and Japanese science fiction manga like “ヨコハマ買い出し紀行” and “Girls’ Last Tour”
ーThe jurors really liked the atmosphere of your Sci-Fi story. The atmosphere seems much more important than the action. Is it true?
Thank you. I also think the atmosphere is the most important thing. Words, actions, and the story can be communicated in short lines, but they are also easily consumed and forgotten. But the atmosphere, as something difficult to put into words, stays with people for a long time. This gives readers the illusion that they have really traveled through the world of the book. I think of reading as a trip to another world, so I work hard to create the atmosphere.
ーWhat links are there between your way of narrating a space journey and the time that we live? I think of the sense of loneliness and melancholy that your images communicate a lot.
I honestly didn’t think about the real world at all. I thought, “I want to go somewhere other than here.” But as a modern person, I live with loneliness, so I think I had an unconscious desire to affirm that in my work. In this work, I tried to create a sense of fun. Instead of resisting loneliness by reaching out to other people and creating a community, we can rather acknowledge one another as solitary people living on distant planets and wave to each other. I think this way of easing loneliness is perhaps something that speaks to people’s experience in modern times.
“Planetarium Ghost Travel: The Art of Sakatsuki Sakana”
The Story of “A Universe” Told Through Comics & Illustrations
Planetarium Ghost Travel: The Art of Sakatsuki Sakana, composed of four chapters of comics, illustrations, and stories, tells the story of memories of “A Universe.” This is the author’s first commercial collection of art works and is also attracting attention as the prequel to Star Tripper, which ranked 5th place of the female award of Kono Manga ga Sugoi! (lit. This Manga is Amazing!) (Takarajimasha), the famous and influential annual vote competition in Japan. Planetarium Ghost Travel was also included among the Japan Media Arts Festival, 25th Manga Division Jury Selections.
Sakatsuki Sakana is an illustrator and manga artist. Focusing on the theme of “”journeys through a universe’s memory” the artist’s work depicts a lonely, yet tranquil world rendered with gentle brush strokes. She is famous for Reiwa Gannen no Game Kids (The Game Kids from the First year of Reiwa) (Seiunsha), Mizu no Seikatai (The Choir of Water) (Shoshikankanbou), and Shoujyo Shumatsu Ryoko Koshiki Anthology Comic 2 (Girl’s Last Tour Official Anthology Comic 2) (KADOKAWA). In April 2021, she published her first commercial collection, Planetarium Ghost Travel The Art of Sakatsuki Sakana (PIE International).
<Translations: Erica Williams>