Manga, diversity and inclusion


Five outstanding works that tackle diversity and inclusion issues.

Robo sapiensu zenshi (Prehistory of Robo Sapiens)

SHIMADA Toranosuke
23rd Japan Media Arts Festival Manga Division Grand Prize
Publisher: Kodansha Ltd.
Publication date: 2019
Volume: 2 volumes (finished)
Copyright: © Shimada Toranosuke

Director’s comment

Awarded with the 23rd Japan Media Arts Festival Division Grand Prize, “Robo sapiensu zenshi (Prehistory of Robo Sapiens)” shows a classic sci-fi Isaac Asimov-like future where robots play an active role. More than mere robots, these are full A.I. “cyber-persons” fully integrated into society. With compelling, interconnected stories, “Robo sapiensu zenshi” shows the slow decay of the human world – and even the human species as a whole. It makes us question the meaning of “humanity,” asking if robots can become “more human than humans”.

Sci-fi stories often explore the dilemma of cyber-persons inclusion in the human world. Instead, “Robo sapiensu zenshi” asks how humans would fit in a society which is on the path of transcending Homo Sapiens. As humanity as we know it now transcended the Neanderthal and other human species, how will humans deal with being replaced by a new, non-biological, species, the Robo Sapiens? These are some of the questions asked by artist SHIMADA Toranosuke. “Robo sapiensu zenshi” is a clear example of how Japanese manga can be far from simple entertainment, both in terms of graphic style and storytelling. Manga shows a jaw-dropping array of different works, art styles, themes, and layers of depth.

Robo sapiensu zenshi (Prehistory of Robo Sapiens)” (2 volumes, finished) is unpublished in English.

About the author

SHIMADA Toranosuke

SHIMADA Toranosuke debuted as a manga artist in 2000. In 2008, his manga “Träumerei” (Seirinkogeisha) won the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize’s Creative Award. In 2019, his manga “Robo sapiensu zenshi (Prehistory of Robo Sapiens)”, published by Kodansha, was listed in the #2 spot for boys’ manga in manga guide Kono Manga ga Sugoi! 2020 and #2 in the guide THE BEST MANGA 2020 Kono Manga o Yome!. It also won the Manga Division Grand Prize at the 23rd Japan Media Arts Festival, and is set to be released in France by NOEVE in February 2021.

Kodansha Ltd. (Japanese)
SHIMADA Toranosuke Twitter

Exhibition of selected artworks

Volume 2 Cover
Robo sapiensu zenshi (Prehistory of Robo Sapiens)” presents different stories and characters that gradually converge, in a classic science-fiction looking work.
Volume 1 Page 5
The first chapter introduces the reader to a futuristic world in which robots are commonplace. Is this a futuristic detective story?

1. A guy like that’s got nothing to do with a common robot salvager like me. Two different worlds. 2. Until that afternoon,
Volume 1 Page 42
The “Robot Tumulus” was constructed as a resting place for more than 1,000 robots that helped contain a radioactive accident in a nuclear facility.
Volume 1 Page 48 (right) and 49 (left)
Outside of the “Robot Tumulus”, where only robots can stand because of high radiation levels. Will robots and A.I. not only help humanity, but transcend it?
Volume 1 Page 70
Where will robots stand in this future society? Where will humanity stand? Many questions arise while reading this story.

1. Maria.
Volume 2 Page 48
The human race decays, while robots keep society afloat. Will their places be reversed eventually?

1. There’s no humans at all. 2. I’ll take you to them if you want to meet. 3. Although I can’t promise they’ll want to see you.

Manga Division Award Winner Talk:
Timeless “Manga” and “Sapiens”

Talk session featuring SHIMADA and his works was held at the 23rd Japan Media Arts Festival.
*Please set your audio setting to monaural mode to adjust your preference of language. Select right for English and left for Japanese.