|My Neighbour Totoro
©1988 Nibariki - G
A 1988 anime feature film by Hayao Miyazaki.
For the manga and anime uninitiated out there, let's take a look at exactly what all the fuss is about.
In this feature, jstyle examines the work of Osamu Tezuka,
Japan's eqivalent to Walt Disney, with the assistance of Melbourne artist Philip Brophy.
We also caught up with the University of New South Wales Anime Club, AnimeUNSW, to talk about more recent developments in these amazing art forms.
|Akira: 1987 Akira Committee licensed by Kodansha, Ltd.
A manga (1978) and and feature film (1988)
created by artist/director Katsuhiro Otomo.
Surely there must be more to manga and anime than anatomically implausible girls,
giant robots and moving castles?
How can Japanese comics and cartoons be unique enough to have impacted on the world to such a vast extent? Why do the manga and anime markets respectively boast such diverse and ever-increasing
fan bases that transcend age, gender and nationality?
|Jungle Emperor, 1950-66 ©Tezuka Productions
Also known as Kimba the White Lion. A manga
(1950) by Tezuka and the first anime to appear
in colour on Japanese television (1965). Many
believe Jungle Emperor controversially formed
the basis for Disney's The Lion King.
To shed some light on the matter jstyle examines the works of Osamu Tezuka along with multi-talented Melbourne-based artist, filmmaker, composer, performer and author
of the book 100 Anime, Philip Brophy.
From February 24 to April 29, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney will host an exhibition entitled Tezuka: the Marvel of Manga. The exhibition showcases the manga and anime creations of Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989), the artistic genius who laid the foundations for and is considered to be the father of modern manga and anime.
Philip Brophy was the curator of Tezuka: the Marvel of Manga during its time in Melbourne at the National Gallery of Victoria and he shares with us his expert opinion on these surprisingly sophisticated and far from childish entertainment mediums.
|Princess Knight, 1965 ©Tezuka Productions
A manga (1954) and TV anime series (1967).
This is Tezuka's most well-known shojo manga
(manga targeted at young girls).
Asked exactly what defines manga he says: "Manga is everything that comics are not. Manga can have a broad range of emotional, psychological, visual and dynamic elements, making it a formally complex art form and storytelling medium. It also has developed from centuries of ways in which Japanese art has blended the written word within the pictorial frame.
"To presume that manga is simply the Eastern equivalent of American or British-style comics is a blunt and inappropriate association."
Naturally manga are not only read by children in Japan as there is an amazing array of genres that separately target teenage boys and girls, as well as men and women. Despite the occasional outlandish storyline or setting, they generally contain real-life themes and often make deep and meaningful social commentaries. Everywhere you go in Japan you will notice people from all walks of life reading manga while eating in restaurants or riding on trains.
|Crime and Punishment
1953 ©Tezuka Productions
A manga (1953) by
Tezuka based on the
novel written by Russian
If a manga turns out to be popular then it often evolves into an anime, sometimes to the delight and occasionally to the displeasure of the original manga fans. The two industries are intertwined and sometimes an anime develops first with a manga to follow. Television stations are always eager to show popular anime, toy and merchandising companies create all kinds of manga and anime paraphernalia, computer software manufacturers create spin-off games and, as a result, well-financed animation studios can afford to employ well-known voice actors and actresses and also popular music artists and bands to write and perform feature songs. The manga-anime connection is of vital importance to the respective industries and cannot be understated.
In this connection Brophy notes: "anime owes so much to manga: its framing, pacing, tonality, stylisation. The interplay between the two forms is best demonstrated by the unique ways in which manga - a still, printed medium - poetically distills sensations of movement, while anime - a moving image medium - often generates beautiful moments of stillness."
|Phoenix, 1976 ©Tezuka Productions
An extensive manga (1954) which
Tezuka referred to as his life's work.
With the praises of manga and anime being reiterated by so many professionals in various fields of entertainment, we are led to wonder what might be amiss in non-Japanese comics and animation.
"I think that, in comparison, Western comics can be over-designed and too illustrative, while western animation tends to be more and more obsessed with non-stop movement - especially CGI movies," notes Brophy.
So how did Osamu Tezuka play such a vital role in creating these mammoth industries?
"There are many groundbreaking aspects to Tezuka's work. I think the two most important are to do with his commercial success and his experimental innovations," Brophy says.
|Black Jack, 1974 ©Tezuka Productions
A manga (1973) created by Tezuka,
OVA (1993) and TV anime series (2003) about
the adventures of a mercenary doctor
named Black Jack.
"Unlike so many artists who were not successful while they were alive, Tezuka achieved considerable success with a series of radical approaches either to the manga form or the manga market."
Most famous for creating the manga and international smash-hit anime phenomenon Astro Boy, Tezuka produced an amazing number of works in his lifetime after becoming a comic artist and animator in post-war Japan.
When asked exactly what was so innovative about Tezuka's works, Brophy said: "Especially to the western reader, Tezuka's work is refreshingly devoid of obvious story structure and development. His stories are sagas wherein characters can evolve and change in unpredictable ways.
"Morality is never employed to suffocate the life energy of the story flow, and people and events are allowed to act out the best and worst of what can happen. Sometimes harsh, often tragic, Tezuka's most important theme is survival, which may indeed reflect his own feelings of having survived World War II."
|Manga artist and animator
Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989)
Photo: Tezuka Productions
Many manga and anime continue to be entertaining yet thought-provoking social commentaries that pay tribute to the spirit of Tezuka's legacy.
In this continually dehumanised and mechanised world, fantasy and imagination maintain important places in human existence. As we struggle to come to terms with technology and the ever-changing world around us, manga and anime seem to offer a perspective, a form of release, self-reflection and hope to their respective audiences.
Manga and anime may be hip and cool and laugh at modern society. They often present alternative philosophies while addressing contemporary issues. They can be artistically cute yet mentally challenging, funny yet serious, innocent yet lecherous, wholesome yet sensual, tender yet violent, or display these qualities simultaneously. Manga and anime are amazing fusions of reality and fantasy that have something to offer to everybody.
|MANGA (as used in the English language)
refers to Japanese-made comics or comic books. Manga artists often apply a minimalist approach and utilise highly-stylised portraiture and character techniques. Most manga use only black brushstrokes and are printed in black and white in paperback.
|ANIME (as used in the English language)
refers to Japanese-made animated cartoons. Anime may include feature-length films, TV shows or OVA (original video animation), a term referring to cartoons that do not show on television or in theatres but are released directly to video or DVD. The word "anime" is an abbreviated rendering of the English word "animation".
Tezuka: The Marvel of Manga
(In association with Tezuka Productions)
||Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road,
The Domain, Sydney
||10am until 5pm, daily
Art After Hours - every Wednesday until 9pm
|The University of New South Wales anime club AnimeUNSW, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2007, is one of five university-based anime societies in the Sydney area and has more than 200 members. Club activities include bi-weekly Friday night anime screenings, anime marathons,
karaoke nights, eat-out dinners, discussion forums, art sessions, social parties and participation in national Animania festivals.
|Bogdan Constantinescu is the current president of the club and is a second-year student studying environmental science, arts and Japanese. His favourite anime are Air, Elfen Lied and Cowboy Bebop.
Edwin Taslim is the club's assistant librarian and a second-year student studying mechatronics, biomedicine and engineering. His favourite anime are The Wolf Brigade, Serial Experiments Lain and Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Samantha Lin serves as the club's "Sailor Moon" executive member, a general management and organisation role. She is a second-year science, arts and Japanese language student and her favourite anime are Sailor Moon, Hikaru no Go and Samurai X.
"direct vision into characters"
jstyle visited an AnimeUNSW art picnic to chat with some of its members about their interests and to learn exactly why anime boasts so many overseas fans.
-What started your interest in anime?
Bogdan: I got into anime fairly recently, about two or three years ago, in high school and the first series I watched was Cowboy Bebop. I felt that animation in general provides a more direct vision into characters rather than just a reflection in an actor.
Sam: The first anime I saw was Sailor Moon. At the time I was intrigued by its general atmosphere, plot, voice acting and music and I became interested in the whole medium of anime because it was something different.
Edwin: I grew up with anime in Indonesia and came to Australia in '97. Doraemon was the first anime that I watched, followed by Astro Boy. One of the things I liked about anime was that, unlike conventional cartoons, you get to see more of a character's personality. Anime often allows you to enter the mind of its characters so you can become involved on a deeper level.
- What is unique about anime when compared with non-Japanese cartoons?
Bogdan: Personally I never got into Western cartoons that much because I thought most were silly and childish. The majority don't have very serious content, whereas anime targets all age groups. In Western cartoons events don't influence the future of a character very much but in anime the character remembers what happens to them and it plays a part in shaping them. Also in Western cartoons the good guy wins but in anime that's not always the case; sometimes they win but in the end it may be a shallow victory.
Edwin: Anime has its subtleties; sometimes they try to be as real as possible while normal cartoons may just focus on storytelling. Some anime are very philosophical, like Serial Experiments Lain, and there are several levels you can watch it at; you can watch it for entertainment or you can watch it to really get your brain working. Anime tries to explore life and stretch it rather than, say The Simpsons for example, which is basically just satirical.
I watch a lot of non-Japanese cartoons as well but anime is more explorative. A good example is Ghost in the Shell. It focuses on political backstabbing and conspiracies but normal cartoons often don't look at issues this deeply or they just oversimplify them. Anime is deep enough to absorb you into the story while in cartoons such as The Simpsons, Family Guy or Futurama you tend to feel removed from the story.
|Dragon Ball: a manga and anime created by Akira Toriyama.
- Are most anime fans also manga fans?
Sam: There's actually quite a strong connection between anime and manga because most anime are based on manga but sometimes you can have manga coming after anime as well. There's usually more plot and characterisation in manga and it's more intense because the medium is more compact. Personally I prefer anime over manga because I'm more of an audio-visual person. I like listening to the voice actors and I love to watch anime to learn Japanese. The voice acting is amazing but it has to have a good plot and characterisation, something most good anime do.
Edwin: Sadly, the anime (dubbing/subtitle) translations in Indonesia are rather pathetic in my opinion, so I tended to be more interested in manga. I used to collect manga because they were cheaper and better than anime, although I haven't read much manga recently because it's hard to come by and expensive in Australia.
-Why is anime is so popular with non-Japanese audiences?
Bogdan: Perhaps its popularity in Western countries is partly because Japan's culture is so exotic, although in my opinion anime's appeal is that it focuses a lot more on character development than Western cartoons; something happens to a character in a cartoon or TV show here but it never gets mentioned again.
Edwin: Another part of its appeal is that you get to know the characters and understand why they behave in a certain way. Villains have deep motives for doing what they do but in Western cartoons they are just evil for the sake of being evil. In some anime it's actually hard to distinguish who the villain is, such as in Princess Mononoke or Wolf Brigade. There's just a bunch of people with different ambitions. Sometimes the ambitions are misguided but you can't always label the character as evil.
Sam: Anime is interesting because it's slightly deceptive; it's animated but the medium has a certain depth that I think can only animation can explore. Anime can be surreal and unrealistic yet it draws parallels to real-life issues and values.
For more information about AnimeUNSW please visit
Popular Manga and Anime
A manga (1942) and
TV anime series (1969) created by Machiko Hasegawa.
Lupin the Third
Manga (1967) and
TV anime series (1971) created by Kazuhiko Kato.
Manga (1969) and TV anime series by artist duo Fujiko F. Fujio.
A TV anime series
(1974) created by Reiji Matsumoto.
Lum the Invader Girl
Manga (1978) and
TV anime series (1981) created by Rumiko Takahashi.
TV anime series
directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino (1979).
A manga (1982) and feature film (1988) created by artist/director Katsuhiro Otomo.
A TV anime series
(1982) created by
A manga (1984) and
TV anime series by
A manga by Momoko Sakura (1986) and
long-running TV anime series (1990).
A manga (1987) and
TV anime series (1989) created by Rumiko Takahashi.
Mobile Police Patlabor
A manga (1988), OVA series (1988), TV anime series (1989) and three feature films created by design group Headgear.
My Neighbour Totoro
An anime feature film (1988) written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
A manga (1990) and
TV anime series (1992) created by Naoko Takeuchi.
Ghost in the Shell
Manga (1991) by Masamune Shirow and anime feature-film (1995) directed by Mamoru Oshii.
Manga and TV anime series (1992) by Yoshito Usui.
A manga (1992) and
TV anime series (1996) created by Nobuhiro Watsuki.
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Manga (1995) created by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto and a TV anime series (1995) created by Hideaki Anno.
A Nintendo-supervised media franchise created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995 that spawned a manga (1996) by Kosaku Anakubo, a TV anime series (1997) and several feature films.
Manga (1996) and
TV anime series (2000) created by Rumiko Takahashi.
An anime feature film (1997) created by Hayao Miyazaki.
A manga (1999) and TV anime series (2002) created by Masashi Kishimoto.
An anime feature film (2001) created by Hayao Miyazaki.
Anime photographs provided by Madman Entertainment. For more information or to purchase many of the anime titles mentioned in this feature please visit http://www.madman.com.au/