Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Authentic Account: Boy's Manga

I'm combining several topics into this one post because I currently have 4 week's worth of backlog material. Mentioned here are:

The "Authentic Account: Boy's Manga" exhibit
"Ah, Megami-sama" exhibit in November.
"Heroes of Tokiwa-sou" exhibit running until Dec.
Contemporary Manga Library Naiki Collection
Katsudi Matsumoto Gallery
My Museums Listing


I'd mentioned a few days ago that when I'd visited the Hongo Cultural Museum, near Tokyo Dome, that there was an upcoming event called "Authentic Account: Boy's Manga" that I was planning on visiting. Well, I went. Unfortunately, there were "no camera" signs all over, and a curator sitting in the corner watching to make sure that we obeyed those signs.

The exhibit is on the B1 floor, and because there's a special exhibit going on, the admission price jumps up from 100 yen ($1 USD) to 300 yen. Still, that's cheap. The show space takes up two small rooms and is in all-Japanese. It starts out with example illustrations of ancient tomb drawings, and works up to book illustrations before entering the manga era following the advent of the Meiji restoration. However, what we consider to be "the true start of manga" came a bit later.

Kenichi Kato was the editor-in-chief of Shonen Club magazine prior to WW II, where he published Suiho Tagawa's "Norakuro" manga, Keizo Shimada's "Boken Dankichi" (冒険ダン吉) manga, and Kouroku Satou's serialized "Receiving Blossoms in a Sake Cup" (ああ玉杯に花受けて) story. After the war, using his own funds, Kato started up his own magazine, Shonen Manga (Boy's Manga), in 1947. Here, he worked with some of the great artists of the fifties, including Tezuka ("Jungle Taitei"), Shotaro Ishinomori and Machiko Hasegawa ("Sazae-san"). The magazine folded in 1955 due to intense competition from other publications. But by that time, he'd established his name in manga history (well, Japanese manga history, anyway. There's virtually nothing written about him online in English.)

The exhibit focuses on Kato, with family photos, writings and so on. There's a floor plan of his house, and original copies of various issues of Shonen Club and Shonen Manga magazines. There's also some examples of works from Tezuka and Ishinomori. Everything in the exhibit is collected into the 500 yen souvenir book.

Outside the exhibit area, there's a children's play area with some early manga pages with the word balloons erased. There's a contest to come up with the best dialog, and some of the submissions are taped on the wall of the staircase.

Overall, it's a fun exhibit to visit, and the 300 yen entry fee is cheap. Definitely worth the trip if you like manga history. The Hongo Cultural Museum is about 5 minutes from Tokyo Dome heading towards Todai University.


Also worth mentioning is the upcoming "Ah, Megami-sama" exhibit at GoFA, from Nov. 1 to Nov. 23. GoFA is located on Aoyama Dori, about halfway between Omotesando Dori (Harajuku) and Shibuya Station, on the 2nd floor of the Oval Building. Various events will be planned during this time.

Note that GoFA is normally closed to the public outside of the announced exhibition dates.


Additionally, the "Heroes of Tokiwa-sou" exhibit is going on from Oct. 24 to Dec. 6. Tokiwa Manor was the apartment building that Tezuka and his assistants lived in from 1952 to 1953. While the building itself was torn down in the 80's, the event will be held in two locations. The first part is on the 7th floor of the Kinryou Fukushi Kaikan (Labor Welfare Hall) (勤労福祉会館) on the west side of Ikebukuro station. The second is the Kumin Hiroba in Fujimidai (Resident's Wide Area ) (区民ひろば富士見台). For more information, visit the Toshima website (Japanese only). Many of the special events (like the talk show with the daughters of Tezuka and Akatsuka on Dec. 5) are limited to the first few people that sent in for tickets.


The Association of Japanese Animations has been putting out maps of various museums and galleries for a while now, but they've been pretty useless in the past. The text is too small to make out the more complex kanji, there's no web addresses, and no descriptions of the museums. Plus, the map's not available online from their own website. Well, at the JAM event, I discovered that AJA has learned from at least some of their mistakes. They're now putting out a brochure that lists the museums and galleries 3 per page, with addresses, phone numbers and URLs in text large enough to read. But. Not all galleries have URLs, there's still no descriptions of the museums and the brochure is still not online. Maybe next time.

One of the galleries mentioned in the brochure is for Katsudi Matsumoto, an illustrator working pre-WW II. Not exactly sure why he's included in a list of manga galleries, but it may be related to some illustrations he did for "Alice in Wonderland". The gallery is near the Futako Tamagawa station in Setagaya Ward, about 15 minutes from Noborito. Unfortunately, it's only open on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I went on Friday, and not only were they closed, but I managed to blow out the rear tire on my bike while trying to locate the gallery building. Ended up walking the 9 kilometers back home. I don't know when I'll try going back there.

I typed up the list of sightseeing places, and the list of museums.


Next, there's the Contemporary Manga Library Naiki Collection. Back in 1978, Toshio Naiki donated 27,000 manga, with 3,000 more coming from friends, to create this library. He's now up to 60,000 books. The library is about 2-3 kilometers east of Takadanobaba station (off the Yamanote JR line) along Shin-Mejiro Dori, around Waseda. I was planning on checking it out to write up a review after going to the Katsudi gallery, but having my tire blow out put a crimp in my plans for the rest of the day. I'll mention the library here, and try visiting it some time in the future.


On Nov. 1, the Yomiuri paper ran a story on the Meiji University's new manga and subculture library. It's dedicated to Yoshihiro Yonezawa, who was a manga critic, as well as a co-founder of the Comiket doujinshi festival. It contains 70,000 manga, which had been owned by Yonezawa, and is located on the Meiji campus, near the Ochanomizu station on the Chuu-ou and Sobu lines.

I've been putting together a list of
manga and anime museums and galleries in Japan. It's been growing very slowing because it depends both on my ability to find out about them, and to visit them to write up the descriptions. The new above-mentioned AJA map does help, and I'll be adding to the listing over the next few days.

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