Come along and see Tezuka: the Marvel of Manga, a special exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, before it finishes on the 28th of January. It’s $12 to get in and we can meet beforehand this Saturday 13th January 2:30pm at Federation Square.
TEZUKA Osamu is heralded as an icon of the Japanese manga movement; acknowledged in Japan as an artistic master, and revered as the figurehead of the manga and anime industries. Creating over 700 manga titles during his lifetime, he is best known in the West for his cartoons of Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, which were serialized for television in the 1960s. Tezuka’s work is acclaimed for its complexity and originality and his drawings showcase an extraordinary calligraphic dynamism. His prolific manga work contains two main streams: manga ‘comic pictures’ for a youth audience, including Astro Boy, Kimba and Princess Knight; and gekiga ‘drama pictures’ – more seriously-toned, adult oriented narratives such as Song of Apollo and Ludwig B, that stress realistic effect and emotional impact. This exhibition features both aspects of his work, introducing Western audiences to the complexities and extraordinary range of the manga form.
This exhibition has been negotiated through Tezuka Productions in Tokyo. Comprising original drawings, designs for manga covers and posters, the exhibition will introduce Western audiences for the first time to the full scope of Tezuka’s artistic output.
What grabbed my attention is a few of the podcasts from curator Philip Brophy, in particular:
- Philip Brophy talks about postwar Japan and the birth of Astro Boy (duration: 11 mins)
(duration: 11 mins)
- Philip Brophy talks about how, in Japan, ‘cute’ is not always cute (duration: 9 mins)
(duration: 9 mins)
- Philip Brophy delves into the darker side of manga (duration: 8 mins)
(duration: 8 mins)
Life is full of interesting stuff. If you need your parent/guardian to hold your hand, perhaps you should stay at home and live a sheltered life.
Woah! Well let’s say the advisory message should be acknowledged. Among the expected cutie characters drawn up on the walls, are some ideas, concepts and characters that certainly took me by surprise. After discovering mountains of porn on a visit to Fuji-san, some of Tezuka’s sexual content on show didn’t raise an eyebrow. What did catch me off guard, was some of the psycho imagery and depressing stories. Some such as humans contracting a disease that brings out canine features, may be explained by the fact that Japan suffered for decades after the infamous A-bomb was dropped. However, others including a murdering phantom horse, write your own religion, and an ongoing theme of gender-switching folk gave me something to think about. The great contrast Japan is renowned for: there is nothing hidden about Tezuka’s mindset, yet Japanese society remains the most secretive I’ve ever known. Let’s call that a love-hate thing.