Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Yumebi Exhibit on Shigeru Mizuki

The Yumebi gallery in Hachioji has been a good place to see anime and manga related exhibits over the last year. They had both the Macoto, and Art of Mamoru Oshii exhibits over the Summer, and they closed out the year with The World of Mizuki Shigeru, running from Nov. 26, 2010, to Jan. 23, 2011, in part as a commemoration of Mizuki's 88th birthday. Entry is 500 yen ($6 USD) for adults.

My winter break at work continued to Jan. 5th, so on the 4th I took the opportunity to visit the Yumebi. As always, the gallery had some artwork in the front lobby, and a TV to one side for people to watch. This time, the DVD seems to have been about Mizuki's studio. I tried finding a copy in the gift shop, but it's apparently sold out. A second TV was playing episodes of "Gegege no Nyobo" (Wife of Gegege). And, the goods shop was stocked with post cards, art books and snack foods featuring the Kitaro youkai.

The exhibit itself starts out with a series of drawings of the Kitaro characters, accompanied by short written descriptions of each. There's a larger collection of paintings of various youkai that have appeared in the Kitaro and Akuma-kun manga, and a few really old Japanese books inside glass cases that have the same youkai that Shigeru apparently used as reference material. There's also 3D art, including life-sized statues of Kitaro, Oyaji, and the cement wall monster, plus models of Kitaro's tree house, and a diorama of a waterfall in the mountains occupied by all of the youkai that had been in the paintings on the gallery walls. The next section of the exhibit includes a parody of Hokusai's 36 Views of Mt. Fuji ukiyo-e woodblock prints, with the same youkai appearing in the villages and landscapes that were the focus of the original prints.

In the adjoining room, one wall has the original pencil artwork from selected pages of some Akuma-kun and Kitaro manga, including the page with the birth of Kitaro from the "Hakuba Kitaro" series. One half of the room also contained the complete set of Garo magazine issues from vol. 1 all the way up to #55. Now I know why all of the copies are missing from the Akihabara Mandarake shop. In addition, there is a section dedicated to some of the Garo manga artists that Mizuki worked with: Yoshiharu Tsuge, Ryouichi Ikegami and Sampei Shirato, with selected manga pages and photos of some of the artists. In fact, one full display case is dedicated to "Garo before Garo", a magazine created by Sampei Shirato entitled "Ninpou Hiwa" (Ninja Arts Secrets). Check out the Italian fan site for more images. It ran from 1960 to 1965, and included manga from Mizuki.

I should also mention that there's one corner with early copies of Shonen Sunday and Shonen Magajin. Both magazines started in 1959, and Mizuki had stories running in both of them from the beginning.

The rest of the exhibit includes masks of the Kitaro characters, collectors items like key chains, cell phone straps and toy figures, plus there's a long scroll drawn as an autobiographical manga showing Shigeru's life from birth up to about 1965. Naturally, the gallery doesn't allow photos within the exhibit, so I can't show you all the good stuff here. Suffice it to say that if you're in Hachioji before Jan. 24th, this is definitely worth the 500 yen to go inside. Highly recommended, especially if you're a Garo enthusiast.

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