The past year, I’ve missed out on a couple of exhibitions I really, really wanted to see. But I was determined we would not miss this one, given the boys’ love of Japanese culture.
The description of the exhibition, in the British Museum’s own words:
“Enter a graphic world where art and storytelling collide in the largest exhibition of manga ever to take place outside of Japan. Now a multimedia global phenomenon, manga developed after the Second World War, but its artistic roots can be traced back to the 12th century. A fascinating glimpse into Japanese culture, manga tells stories with themes from gender to adventure, in real or imagined worlds. Immersive and playful, the exhibition explores manga’s vast appeal and cultural crossover, showcasing original Japanese manga and its influence across the globe, from anime to ‘cosplay’ dressing up. This influential art form entertains, inspires and challenges – and is brought to life like never before in this ground-breaking exhibition.”
We went last Saturday and, for the first time in all the times we’ve visited the museum, the queue just to get through the gate was massive! It snaked up the road, past the museum, and back down again to the gate. I was a little miffed that there wasn’t a separate queue for members, but hey ho, we still got in and there is a separate bag check for members.
In the museum itself, it was positively heaving. I have never seen so many people in the building.
We headed straight for the exhibition – a moment’s quiet as there was hardly anyone in the entrance area. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that photography is allowed; usually it isn’t for major exhibitions.
The first thing that people see is Alice from Alice in Wonderland. I had no idea, but the story is a massive influence on manga with various interpretations.
Getting through the exhibition did prove a little frustrating at times as there’s always a section of people who seem to give no thought to others who are there to enjoy the same thing.
We took our time – there’s so much to see – and I, especially, discovered new manga I’m looking forward to reading.
I’ll let the photos we took do the ‘talking’ now…
On either side of this illuminated image of a manga bookstore, there were seating and shelves filled with manga, which we were allowed to browse through and even read, cover to cover.
Whenever I visit an exhibition, I always get the accompanying book. This one is true value for money. It’s about 350 pages and costs just under £30 (10% off for members).
Divided into 6 sections, it’s chock-full of interviews, photos, images from so many different manga.
Best of all (in my opinion), there are about 15 manga extracts peppered throughout – 8 or more pages of different manga in original Japanese script, with English translations on the side.
For those who are interested, the manga excerpts are:
‘Golden Kamuy’ by Noda Satoru
‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Ótomo Katsuhiro
‘Giga Town: A Catalogue of Manga Symbols’ by Kóno Fumiyo
‘Blank Canvas: My So-Called Artist’s Journey’ by Higashimura Akiko
‘Edo As It Was’ by Akatsuka Fujio
‘The End of Unagi-Inu’ by Akatsuka Fujio
‘The Willow Tree’ by Hagio Moto
‘Stay Fine’ by Chiba Tetsuya
‘Slam Dunk’ by Inoue Takehiko
‘Real’ by Inoue Takehiko
‘Blue Giant Supreme’ by Ishizuka Shin’ichi
‘Saint Young Men’ by Nakamura Hikaru
‘Olympia Kyklos’ by Yamazaki Mari
‘Red Flower’ by Morohoshi Daijiró
‘Ocean Adventurer Kaitei’ by Hoshino Yukinobu
The exhibition is on until 26th August. If you can’t make it, I’d recommend getting the book from the museum’s online store. If you love manga, you will not regret it. For, as the book states, there really is “a manga for everyone”.