I think you’re conflating two very large things here, for starters: the Hugo awards, which are essentially a popularity contest voted by members of the World Science Fiction Society, and which will thus have a dramatically different voter base from year to year, depending on where the previous/current year’s Worldcon is held, and the Nebula awards, which are nominated and voted on by the members of SFWA, and which are thus more of an industry award.
What would it take for anime, manga, or the like to gain traction at the Nebulas? It is probably not going to happen. The Nebulas are voted on and presented by active members of SFWA, and are only given for novel, novella, novelette, and short story. Much as the Hugos did not have a graphic category for years, the Nebulas do not have a graphic story category, which is where manga will fit.
Now, the Hugos. First off, the Hugos are more So You Think You Can Dance than totally-unbiased-awards-show-of-your-choice. If I could make one change to the awards as a whole, it would be the replacement of the word “Best” with “Favorite.” How do you measure Palimpsest against Feed, quality wise? It’s apples and beets. But you can say “more people like beets.” And that is what will always be a problem for anime and manga at the Hugos. Most of the voter pool is North American. By the time something gains enough traction over here to be considered for the awards, it may no longer be eligible.
There are ways around that. In an effort to be more fair to our international creators, the Hugos start eligibility from “first English language publication,” not from actual first pub date. So Sailor Moon, for example, would probably have been eligible for the Hugos five years after the release of the first volume, if not longer. It’s just that you need to gain the traction during that window, and that could be hard.
I don’t necessarily think that the Hugos are a necessary thing for anime or manga. They won’t garner huge mainstream respect for those art forms, which are already amazingly popular; they won’t suddenly make all the people who were dubious about having a Graphic Story category at all think that they’re cool. But a manga that had its first English language publication after January 1st, 2014, would be eligible for next year’s awards, in that category, if people chose to nominate.
And that’s the last big piece. If you want to see something on the ballot, you have to nominate it.
That’s all that carries any real weight.
Thanks for the response - and I hope you get a chance to read this.
I do know the difference between the Hugos and Nebulas - the main reason I asked about both is because the Nebulas also have a Best Dramatic Presentation category (which, hypothetically, an anime series could be nominated for) - and because I have a few friends who are into SF who are of the mindset that because the Hugo’s are an anyone-can-vote popularity contest, they effectively mean nothing, while the Nebulas, as a professional award, are far more meaningful. Also, hypothetically, a Japanese SF manga writer (like Tezuka, were he still alive), could win the Grand Master Award.
The other reason why I asked is also somewhat related to the Squeecast, or rather related to a chain of events listed to the Squeecast. So, last year, I read a book called The Notenki Memoirs, which is a book by one of the founders of Studio GAINAX, which put out Gunbuster, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Nadia, and other fairly big name series. Early on in the book, the author discusses organizing the various DaiCon conventions (which western anime fans know best for the animated shorts created for the opening ceremonies of the 3rd and 4th cons). In the book, the author mentions the Japanese WorldCon bid, which had been successful, though at the time of the book’s original publication, the con hadn’t happened yet.
This lead to me looking at the Hugo nominee list for the 2007 Worldcon (Nippon 2007), to see if anyone from the home team (for lack of a better term) had gotten a nomination. Nope. Not a one. In spite of the fact that Japanese fans had the homefield advantage, when it came to registering for the con, the host country had no representation in the Hugo Awards in any category.
Discovering this surprised me and lead me to check to see if any works by Japanese creators had been nominated for any categories, particularly Dramatic Presentation. The only works I could find (aside from “Mono No Aware”, whose nomination hadn’t been announced at the time), were “Spirited Away” under Best Dramatic Presentation, and Yoshitaka Amano’s co-nomination with Neil Gaiman for Sandman: The Dream Hunters. At this, I was a little annoyed, but I wasn’t too upset.
Then, as I was listening to the Squeecast, among several other nominated SF podcasts after the Hugo Award nominees were announced (as I give my picks for some of the Hugo categories on my web show in place of voting, as I’ve generally been too broke to get a Hugo membership of any kind).
As I was listening to various SF podcasts, I kept hearing the recurring discussion topic come up of a need for more SF works being nominated across the board from women and people who weren’t coming from a western perspective.
That made me mad, in a constructive fashion, and not at the people doing the podcast. I got mad because I knew that there were lots of works of SF coming to the US, which weren’t from people writing from an American or European perspective, which were coming from more women, or which were targeted for women, or which featured women as major characters, works that were coming out the same week or month as they came out in their home country, legally, and translated into English - specifically various Anime TV series. What made this worse, is nobody in SF fandom or professional circles were talking about them, even shows which, going what people had liked in the past, might be right up their alley.
(As an example, Seanan, you might like Attack on Titan - as it’s something of a zombie apocalypse story where the zombies are several stories tall).
So, long story short (too late), that chain of events pretty much lead to me making it my mission in life to get anime & manga (and particularly current anime & manga) into the lit SF and Fantasy fandom discussion, or die trying.
I’m not sure if I’m exaggerating on that last point or not.