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Exhibit in Kyoto features collaboration of anime and 400-year-old Rinpa school of painting


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RocketNews 24 (by Kay):

This is what happens when you combine centuries-old traditional Japanese painting with modern anime, and we love it!

If you’re interested in traditional Japanese art, you may be familiar with the Rinpa school of painting, which has a history that can be traced all the way back to the 17th century. It so happens that this year marks the 400th anniversary since one of the school’s founders, Hon’ami Kōetsu, established an artistic community (geijutsumura) in the Takagamine area of Kyoto, and an exciting commemorative event titled the “Rinpa x Anime Homage Exhibit” is now going on in the very same city of Kyoto, courtesy of brilliant artwork produced by the anime/comic merchandise retailer CHARA-ANI.

But before we go on, here’s a little bit more background on Rinpa art. The Rinpa school, which has a heavy emphasis on painting but also includes other crafts such as ceramics and lacquerware as well as calligraphy, is thought to have been founded by Hon’ami Kōetsu and Tawaraya Sōtatsu around the early 17th century and later consolidated in the latter half of the century by the prominent artist brothers  Ogata Kōrin and Ogata Kenzan. The name Rinpa is actually a combination of the last syllable of Kōrin’s name and the word “pa” for school.

The school’s art style is known for its bold design compositions, use of silver and gold leaf in the background, and repeated use of recognizable patterns. While natural scenes including flowers and trees are often depicted, animals and people from folktales are also common subjects, like the deities depicted in the famous ”Wind and Thunder Gods” folding screens (Fūjin Raijin-zu) by Sōtatsu.

▼ The magnificent Wind and Thunder Gods folding screen by Sōtatsu:


So, taking all of that into consideration, we think you’ll understand why we might be excited by the idea of a collaboration between anime and the Rinpa school, which has a history of producing such notable works of art. And what’s attracting particular attention in this “Rinpa x Anime Homage Exhibit” are the works featuring the long-loved characters created by the manga master Osamu Tezuka himself!

The glittering gold and silver, along with the texture of Japanese paper, have turned Tezuka’s characters into breathtaking, timeless works of art.

▼ Here’s Tezuka’s phoenix (Hi no Tori), a perfect subject for Rinpa-style art, depicted in brilliant gold.



▼ The father and son lion duo from Kimba the White Lion (Jungle Taitei) looks full of life in this piece.


In addition to the collaboration with Tezuka anime, you’ll also be able to see on display Rinpa-style art featuring the busy-as-ever Hello Kitty, as well as characters from Lucky Star (Raki☆Suta).

The best part is that you can actually order and purchase some of these illustrations at the exhibit, and they apparently have some stationery and smartphone accessories on sale as well.

The Rinpa x Anime Homage Exhibit will run at the Kyoto Loft department store in the Mina Kyoto shopping complex until January 17, 2016 (except for January 1, when Mina Kyoto will be closed). It could be a fun destination for art and anime fans who are in Kyoto for the new year!

Source: CHARA-ANI websitePR TIMES press release

Anime’s Tetsuwan Atom/Astro Boy shows up on a pedestrian walk signal in Japan

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RocketNews 24:

For many newcomers to anime and manga, it can be hard to tell characters drawn by the same artist apart. In general, Japanese designs use fewer lines, especially in the faces, than those of Western comic books, and even some artists themselves, such as Touch creator Mitsuru Adachi, have been known to get their own cast members mixed up.

That’s not a problem with Atom, though. Also known as Astro Boy, Osamu Tezuka’sbeloved mighty robot is instantly recognizable, whether in the pages of the manga where he debuted, onscreen in one of his many anime adaptations, or, in his most recent appearance, a pedestrian walk signal in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Sagami, a coastal area in southern Kanagawa, is home to a number of technology and manufacturing centers. In order to promote the district’s cutting-edge image, 10 Sagami cities have banded together under the umbrella organization Robot Town Sagami.

Atom serves as the group’s mascot, and in its promotional video, Robot Town Sagami says it’s inspired by seven of Atom’s features: his 100,000-horse power motor, satellite and camera, sense of hearing 1,000 times stronger than a normal human’s, speech capabilities, artificial intelligence, empathy, and jet engine-powered flight.

The citizens of Robot Town Sagami may not have ticked off every item on that checklist yet, but Fujisawa, one of the member cities, does now have Atom keeping pedestrians safe, as shown in this photo.


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Even in silhouette, you can instantly tell who it is. Atom’s stalwart “don’t walk” posture shows you can be cool even when following the rules, and his gallant “walk” stride somehow makes the simple act of crossing the street seem like the start of a jaunty adventure.

▼ All right! Let’s do this thing!

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Unfortunately, Atom doesn’t have jurisdiction over all of the city. Cool as it may look, the special signal doesn’t comply with the standards signage on public roads are held to, so the only place you’ll find this one-of-a-kind signal is inside Tsujido Kaihen Kouen Park.

A brief history of Japanese illustration

IDesignI/Tom McCallum:


Japanese illustration, particularly manga, has gathered a huge, global fan base in the last few decades. As its influence continues to spread, we take a look back at how it all began, where it is now and what might happen in the future.


The Origins of Japanese Illustration

The beginning of modern Japanese illustration can be dated back to a series of medieval scrolls created in the 10th century that contain drawings of animals. These scrolls are thought of by many as the first example of the famous and hugely influential manga illustration style. Animals remained a common subject throughout the 13th century in linear illustration. These more closely resemble modern day manga illustrations. The afterlife was another popular subject for Japanese illustrators of this time, but after this period they began to branch out to wider ranging subjects.


The Art of Ukiyo-e

Ukiyo-e, the ancient Japanese illustration technique of painting onto wooden blocks, came about in the 1600s in the Edo period. Ukiyo-e often contained erotic content, like a lot of modern manga illustrations, as well as a lot of satirical content. The most recognisable ukiyo-e painting from this time is the incredibly famous illustration by Hokusai, ‘the Great Wave of Kanagawa’.

famous japanese illustration

The waves in this famous work are often mistakenly referred to as a ‘tsunami’, however, they are more accurately called ‘okinami’, or great off-shore waves


The late 1600s provided further innovation in Japanese illustration with ink-brushed illustrated prints; however, the content of the majority of these prints lacks a progressive storyline which is so common of modern manga illustration today.


The Origins of Manga

Manga are Japanese illustrated storybooks, comics or graphic novels. On every commuter train and in every waiting room or cafe in Tokyo you are certain to see a number of youngsters with their noses in a manga comic. The word ‘manga’ can be translated to mean ‘whimsical picture’. The popularity of manga, across the world of both illustration and storytelling, has been massive and their influence on modern commercial illustration styles continues to be strong.

The first commercial manga illustrated comics came about in the late 1940s. They were known as ‘Akahons’, or cheap red books, and were introduced to provide entertainment to the huge population of poor who were in desperate need of entertainment during the post-war period. Tezuka’s 1947 “New Treasure Island” sold over 400,000 copies when it was released and its popularity would change the face of Japanese illustration forever.


the first ever manga

Tezuka’s 1947 debut ‘New Treasure Island’ is widely credited as the first modern manga

Manga illustration today

By the 1990s, Japanese manga had become a popular commercial art form across the world, and artists in the West started to use the style to inform and inspire their own work. Luis NCT has been working as a freelance illustrator since 2005 and although he lives in Valencia, Spain, the biggest influence on his style comes from Japan. He feels the use of bold illustration is the perfect way to tell a visual story:

The first thing that attracted me to manga – when I began to see them in the comic book stores – was the strength and immediacy on the graphic. The contrasting pure black and white (even with the mechanic grey tones on it) of manga transmitted dynamism and promoted a faster reading rate, which I thought was much closer to the image in motion of cinema and animation. The stylisation on anatomies and composition contributes to the same effect, giving a special vitality to the artwork. Moreover, manga illustrations tend to avoid the use of bold black masses for shadow (in faces, for example) so the pages look less heavy and dissuades slow-reading, unlike a lot of those chiaroscuro-abused occidental comicbooks.


manga comic bu Luis NCT

“Sleepers” by Spanish illustrator Luis NCT is set to be released in the US early next year

I love that manga doesn’t try to mimic reality. It doesn’t look like a series of photographs translated to drawings, but images constructed with a graphic language that only make sense in drawing. Of course I’m generalising and there are a lot of exceptions,  for example the abuse of backgrounds traced from photo or 3D models seen over the last few years.


image from manga by Luis NCT

Image from ‘Sleepers’ by Luis NCT

There is intersection between eastern and western design that you can see in colour illustrators, like Katsuya Terada or Katsuhiro Otomo (both were heavily influenced by Moebius and other European artists). I prefer this style to the cell-shading you could see on most of the mass-produced manga. Connecting with that, I have to say that I love manga artists that have a unique voice and style (like Otomo, Toriyama, Kishiro, Miyazaki, Tanaka, Nihei…) but I don’t like at all the standardised, commercial and mass-produced manga.


manga image by Luis NCT

Image from ‘Sleepers by Luis NCT

Felix Setiawan is another manga illustrator who is creating work from outside of Japan. Living in Jakarta, Indonesia, Felix says he loves both reading and using the manga style for the escapism it provides and says, “the fantasy of manga illustration can make me forget about how boring real life is.”
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Manga fan art illustration by Felix Setiawan for Japanese video game ‘J Stars Victory Vs’

The Future of Japanese Illustration

While manga is the most popular form of Japanese illustration globally, there is a danger in thinking that manga illustration completely defines Japan’s illustration scene. While there are many outstanding Japanese illustrators who work with manga illustration styles, there are many who are influenced by the ancient history of Japanese illustration but work in a completely different style. Tatsuro Kiuchi, for example, is a multiple award-winning illustrator, representative of the amazingly talented Japanese illustration scene, that is not reliant on the manga industry:

illustration by japanese illustrator tatsuro kiuchi

Award-winning illustration by Tatsuro Kiuchi

Actually, I am not particularly a big fan of manga right now. When I was a high school student, I read manga magazines regularly. However, I hardly read manga after that. I know some of the manga are very interesting and fun to read storywise, but I think I am not into those manga-type line drawings. I love drawings done by illustrators or fine artists much more. I do love a couple of manga artists such as Osamu Tezuka, Fujio Akatsuka, Katsuhiro Otomo, Katsuya Terada, Shigeru Mizuki; I admire the qualities of their line drawings. I tend to pay attention to the qualities of artworks in great detail rather than the stories in manga.”


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Illustration for Japan Railway Kyushu by Tatsuro Kiuchi

However, the popularity of manga in Japan is almost unavoidable and Tatsuro admits that manga has had some bearing on his own style as a top Japanese illustrator:

I can say that some of my favourite manga along with my favourite line artworks have influenced my work. I have been looking for great line drawings, and I get inspired when I find one. However, I think the percentage of manga influence on my work is not so high.”


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Cover Illustration for Style Asahi by Tatsuro Kiuchi

A bright past, present and future

As manga continues to influence the work of illustrators across the world, Japan looks set to continue to play a huge part in the global story of illustration. With the work of current Japanese illustrators, such as Tatsuro Kiuchi, already carving out a unique style that is influenced by, yet separate, from manga, we could yet see further evolution and advancement of Japanese influence on the industry.

Boston theatre puts on play about Astro Boy and Tezuka



Osamu Tezuka‘s Astro Boy, in addition to being a historically important piece of entertainment, is also widely beloved around the world. And now, some sixty-plus years after its first inception as a manga, it’s been granted additional life on the stage, thanks to the efforts of playwright and director Natsu Onoda Power, and the folks at the Company One theater company.

Titled Astro Boy and the God of Comics, this production is running every Wednesday thru Sunday at the Boston Center for the Arts‘ Plaza Theatre until August 16.

From the website:

Astro Boy – a crime-fighting, sweet-faced robot – and his creator, Osamu Tezuka – the real-life Father of Manga and “Walt Disney of Japan” – explore the intersections of science, art, and family.






Power, an assistant professor in theater at Georgetown University, is also the author of God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post-World War II Manga. Those eager in learning more about her interest in Tezuka, live animation, and theater can check out this interview in the theater company’s curriculum guide for the Astro Boy play.

This production marks the New England premiere of Astro Boy and the God of Comics. For ticketing information, check out the official website.




Artist Profile: Keiichi Tanaami’s “Death Bridge” debuts at AISHONANZUKA (Hong Kong)


Image of Keiichi Tanaami "Death Bridge" @ AISHONANZUKA

A master in his own hallmark style of zagging, psychedelic paintings, prolific Japanese painter Keiichi Tanaami brings his work to a new exhibit in Hong Kong. In the 1960′s, Tanaami created Japanese-edition album covers for The Monkees and Jefferson Airplane before joining the ranks of Playboy as art director. This set the painter up perfectly to create a lengthy body of pop art-inspired works, an aesthetic that exists even in the two series premiering at next week’s Art Basel in Hong Kong.

The first set of paintings references pop icons such as Marilyn Monroe and John Lennon, done in an exaggerated animation style per Osamu Tezuka and Walt Disney. The second set is a bit more modernist, depicting Tanaami’s childhood war experiences as overlapping, obscured images.

Both sets will debut at AISHONANZUKA in Hong Kong beginning May 15.


39 Wong Chuk Hang Road
Hong Kong


Check out this link:


Artist Profile: Keiichi Tanaami’s “Death Bridge” debuts at AISHONANZUKA (Hong Kong)


Street artist Invader posts plans for Astro Boy work on Instagram

Street artist Invader posts plans for Astro Boy work on Instagram

Just posted onto Instagram, French street artist Invader shows plans for a new work featuring Osamu Tezuka‘s iconic anime character Astro Boy. This is a departure from his usual tile matrix street art installations, which usually depict video game characters.