Thursday, November 6, 2008
It's now the 80th anniversary of the birth of Tezuka Osamu (Nov. 3, 1928), the revered creator of Atom Boy, Buddha, Black Jack and many other titles, as well as being considered the godfather of manga. As a result, a group of about 35 artists working under the name "Gas Works" created Tezuka Gene, a tribute to the master which is running in Parco building One, in Shibuya, Tokyo. In keeping with Parco's art gallery approach (the "gallery" is a section of floor space on the 6th floor), it costs 300 yen to get inside just to look at the gift shop. I didn't see any "no camera" signs, but I played it safe while inside the gallery. Fortunately, some of Tezuka's original art was hung up in the hallway, so I took shots of that instead. (No loss, I didn't see anything by Gas Works that I thought was worth shooting.)
The exhibit is made up of three parts: a small set of 3 DVD players showing videos; the "original art" section, and the "dark room". The DVD players had a story on Tezuka on one player, a Black Jack episode on the second, and some pointless 3D graphics mashup of Atom Boy on the third. I found the Tezuka video the most interesting, because it showed him in the process of creating at his table. The "original art" gallery consisted of a larger room that was half-filled with drawings from the 35 artists, and Tezuka Gene books in the other half. Most of the original artwork was either not very good, or just took Tezuka characters and reworked them in a different style. The dark room was essentially just that - a dark corner of the exhibit with a laser light show of various static patterns set to a new-wave sound track.
Overall, Tezuka Gene seems to be nothing more than an attempt to promote Gas Works, and sell books of their art, in the guise of this 80th anniversary "celebration". Even the gift shop seemed to be mostly stuff that wasn't directly created by Tezuka and his studio (such as the Gas Works t-shirts using character mash-ups). The only part of the exhibit I liked was what Tezuka himself was responsible for: the biography video, the Black Jack anime, and the artwork lining the outside hallway. The "Tezuka Gene" stuff is mostly ignorable, and I can't recommend going to Parco just for that.
(Game pouches by Gas Works)
Having said that, the single, most important result of going to Parco was being reminded that Tezuka was a genius when it came to anime. "Broke Down Film" and "Jumping" are some of the best animated shorts ever made, and they were included on the Black Jack DVD player. So, I went to the Tezuka website, and discovered that I can watch a postage stamp-sized video of about 1 minute each from the main page. I'm happy now. To watch the videos, click on the lower TV that has a black and white image of Atom Boy, then click on the right and left arrows to step through the different available shorts.
Below are the photos of Tezuka's artwork from the hallway in front of the gallery. I didn't want the flash to get reflected in the window, so I turned it off. That's why the pictures are somewhat dark.