Osamu Tezuka, Metropolis, 1949. Photo courtesy of the British Museum.

“The Citi exhibition ‘Mangaマンガ'”
On view:
May 23 – August 26, 2019
The British Museum
Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG

This May the British Museum is housing the largest collection of manga artwork outside of Japan in “The Citi exhibition ‘Manga マンガ’“. The collection is expected to include original manga art dating back to the 11th century, alongside modern representations of manga comics and their global impact on popular culture.

‘Manga’ refers to the style of comic books and graphic novels that originate from Japanese culture and now boast a global, billion-pound industry. Beyond the scope of traditional comic books, manga brings images to the focal point of storytelling and relies very little on written dialogue. Expressive facial drawing and physical character development are paramount to story progression, creating a visually immersive quality that makes it so popular amongst younger generations in Japan.

Kawanabe Kyōsai, stage curtain for the Shintomi Theatre, 1880. Photo courtesy of the British Museum.

Manga has found recent success in Western popular culture through the film and television adaptations of manga comics and graphic novels, known as anime.

Anime and manga comics typically follow the traditional hero’s journey.  However, like many Western comics, manga often explores deeper themes like gender roles, sexuality and familial loyalty within the complex characters that are developed.  Manga has created iconic LGBTQ figures and powerful female role models for modern readers. Further differentiating manga from Western comics is the wide subject range that manga comics address. Instead of focusing on superhero and crime-centric plots, manga artists frequently publish love stories, tales of sporting triumphs and even horror comics.

The British Museum’s manga exhibition, supported by The National Art Center, Tokyo and the Organisation for the Promotion of Manga and Anime, aims to redefine the scope of manga comics in art culture.

For more info go to the British Museum.

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