Mad for Manga

Find out more about the genre that has left its mark on generations
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Castle in the Sky (Tenku no Shiro Laputa) (1986) directed by Miyazaki Hayao

1 / 13 Castle in the Sky (Tenku no Shiro Laputa) (1986) directed by Miyazaki Hayao

Ishinomori Shotaro, Ran and Ryu from the series Ryu the Cave Boy (1971)

2 / 13 Ishinomori Shotaro, Ran and Ryu from the series Ryu the Cave Boy (1971)

Nino and Toni Pagot's popular chicken, Calimero

3 / 13 Nino and Toni Pagot's popular chicken, Calimero

Tsumiki No Ie (2008) directed by Kato Kunio

4 / 13 Tsumiki No Ie (2008) directed by Kato Kunio

The story of a young princess destined to bring peace to planet earth

5 / 13 The story of a young princess destined to bring peace to planet earth

Kimba, The White Lion (Janguru Taitei) (1965) directed by Yamamoto Eiichi

6 / 13 Kimba, The White Lion (Janguru Taitei) (1965) directed by Yamamoto Eiichi

Ishii Katsuhito, Sketches for a character

7 / 13 Ishii Katsuhito, Sketches for a character

Fist of the North Star (Sekimatsu Kyuseishu Densetsu -Hokuto no Ken) (1984) directed by Ashida Toyoo

8 / 13 Fist of the North Star (Sekimatsu Kyuseishu Densetsu -Hokuto no Ken) (1984) directed by Ashida Toyoo

Captain Harlock's vessel, The Spaceship Arcadia

9 / 13 Captain Harlock's vessel, The Spaceship Arcadia

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007) animated by Gainax and co-produced by Aniplex and Konami

10 / 13 Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007) animated by Gainax and co-produced by Aniplex and Konami

Chihiro and other charactrers in the bewitched city

11 / 13 Chihiro and other charactrers in the bewitched city

The visual experimentation of The Tradgedy of Belladonna

12 / 13 The visual experimentation of The Tradgedy of Belladonna

The child robot Astro Boy

13 / 13 The child robot Astro Boy


As Anderson & Low's short film Manga Dreams is on tour across UK cinemas, we take a closer look at the art form that inspired the photographers.

Manga and the world of anime is a complex and developed genre. From the cuteness of Kimba, The White Lion (1965) to the mysterious Captain Harlock (1978), and the erotic reinterpretation of medieval witchcraft legends in The Tragedy of Belladonna (1973), manga and anime delights fans - otaku (the obsessive Japanese fans) - and cineaste, alike.

Developed in Japan in the late 19th century, the comic and print cartoons, known as manga, reached their modern recognisable form shortly after World War Two. Animated illustrations, known as anime, emerged in the 1960s. Over time, there have been many legendary illustrators, acclaimed directors and much loved characters, which have stood out from the wealth of manga and anime that has been produced, not only in Japan, but around the world.

Created by the illustrator - that some would describe as the God of Manga (Manga no Kami-sama) - Tezuka Osamu (Osaka), Astro Boy (1963) became the hero of the first anime television series with a steady character and narrative continuity. With his disarming Betty Boop-like gaze, his helmet of spiky hair and his jet-powered legs, he is an enduring icon of anime. The production methods used by Tezuka's studio, Mushi, to develop Astro Boy are still routinely followed today, such as the 'bank system' in which cels (translucent sheets) and backgrounds are filed for repeated use.

Winner of the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival and an Oscar for Spirited Away (2001), Miyazaki Hayao is one of the most important figures in the world of anime. The first film produced by Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli was Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986). It owed its success to an extreme, almost maniacal attention to detail, poetry and the heart-rendering tenderness of the characters; a very personal reconciliation of Japanese and western culture and design resulting in a new visual world; and above all, moral rectitude, a reluctance to distinguish clearly between good and evil, which leaves the viewer with a fresh view of the world. 

Over the decades, the ever-changing world of manga has evolved from a homely, innocuous and peaceful vision to a more complex outlook, one in which the trials of the real world are not suppressed. The language and culture underlying the manga phenomenon has left its mark on generations who have enjoyed - and continue to appreciate - the genre in all its forms.

 

For a guide to the world of Japanese animation, Phaidon has published Manga Impact


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