11 Nov 2010

Manga & Anime! Japan @ Japan Creative Centre

Went down to Japan Creative Centre today to check out the Manga & Anime! Japan exhibition. It really gives you insight into the manga industry, it's birth, boom, and current struggles. Sounds a bit like Bakuman. right? If you've read that series, you'll understand some of the issues mangakas of today face and how the industry is quite a risky one.

They were not shy in showing how little mangakas get for all that trouble. Being published in a magazine is simply advertising for their tankobon (the books that compile a few chapters). Seriously. Weekly Shounen Jump, the most popular manga magazine in Japan, has a circulation of roughly 3 million and costs 240 Yen (S$3.80) per weekly issue.

Each issue earns roughly S$11 million, and I assume a large portion of that sum goes to material and printing costs. The remaining amount is divided among the 20 or so mangakas that published their works in that issue. Big hits like One Piece can sell 3 million copies of each tankobon volume, with a much larger sum of money (10% of sales, according to the above infographic) going to the mangakas.

Among the top-selling tankobon, One Piece comes in first with 3 million copies for volume 60-something. This figure was broken by volume 69 which sold 2.8 million within it's first week (I'm not sure what's the total sales to date). THAT figure is set to be broken yet again by volume 70 which has just sold 3 million in it's first 4 days. Crazy! It's like having 3 million people download the demo and then more than 3 million actually buying the product. Japan must really love One Piece...

Urasawa Naoki's Pluto, on the other hand, isn't getting a lot of love... Sure, 10th place and 800,000 copies is not bad, but this epic retelling of Tezuka Osamu's Astro Boy deserves much much more! I highly recommend it to anyone who likes reading manga.

 The exhibition had a collection of popular shounen  manga displayed near the entrance.

Bakuman. and Naruto, both currently serialized in Weekly Shounen Jump.

Death Note, by the same people who are currently serializing Bakuman. Vagabond, by mangaka extraordinaire Takehiko Inoue (best known for Slam Dunk)

The aforementioned Slam Dunk, with Hunter X Hunter (series currently on hiatus) in the top right corner.

These symbols and backgrounds are standardized and used across all manga. The mangaka usually picks one to be used and tell their assistants to apply it.

The next section featured a timeline of manga's history. Sho-chan's adventure is one of the earliest manga who's style might look familiar to most of us.

Sazae-san is one of Japan's longest running manga, running from 1949 till 1974. It has been adapted into a very popular anime series, becoming the longest-running animated TV series in history (has been producing new episodes every week from 1969 and is STILL in production).

One of Tezuka Osamu's earlier works, New Treasure Island was later made into an anime that featured the talents of many young animators (such as Hayao Miyazaki) who would later on have a huge impact on the anime industry.

Astro Boy is undoubtedly the most recognisable figure in manga and anime. The original anime series was one of the first few TV anime, and pioneered many animation shortcuts and techniques that laid the foundation for how anime is made.

Kitaro is another all-time favourite in Japan, with anime series coming out periodically and as recently as 2008.

The ever-popular Doraemon was never finished before the mangaka's unfortunate death. A lot of people have speculated and came up with their own endings, one of which became very popular because it fitted well with the spirit of the manga. From Wikipedia:

One of the most prolific fanfiction endings was by Nobuo Sato. In this ending, Doraemon's battery power ran out, and Nobita was given a choice between replacing the battery inside a frozen Doraemon, which would cause it to reset and lose all memory, or await a competent robotics technician who would be able to resurrect the cat-robot one day. Nobita swore that very day to work hard in school, graduate with honors, and become that robotics technician. In the future, it was revealed that Japan has become a Republic, and Hidetoshi Dekisugi is the President. He successfully resurrected Doraemon in the future as a robotics professor, became successful as an AI developer, and thus lived happily ever after, thus relieving his progeny of the financial burdens that caused Doraemon to be sent to his space-time in the first place.

Doraemon is also Japan's official "Anime Ambassador".

Ashita no Joe caught my eye a few months ago when I was looking for old anime series to marathon. The mature premise is not something you see in most anime today.

Ah, Akira. A relatively short but well structured Sci-fi epic that changed the West's kiddy perception of manga and anime. The 1988 animation film still stands as one of the best animated shows EVER, as they had a collaboration between publisher Kodansha Ltd., Mainichi Broadcasting System, Inc., Bandai Co., Ltd., Hakuhodo Incorporated, distributor Toho Co., Ltd., Laserdisc Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation and animation producer Tokyo Movie Shinsha Co., Ltd. The US$11 million for this animation project was unheard of and hence they required so many backers. The list of animators working on the project reads like the who's who of today's animation industry. Needless to say, this is required reading/watching for all manga/anime fans.

Closer to present day, we have Dragon Ball and Detective Conan. All these works were well presented at the exhibition, with rare first volumes of each series available for you to read.

In another section, they had some manga of other genres so that this manga exhibition doesn't become a Weekly Shounen Jump exhibition. Here we have CLAMP's xxxHolic, which has been utterly AWESOME in the wake of Tsubasa's ending.

Ai Yazawa's Nana. A very popular shojo series, drawn solely by the very talented Ai Yazawa without any assistants. It might be a monthly series, but the stress of working alone on such a popular project has put the author in very bad health, with frequent hiatus due to hospitalization and sickness. Another personal favourite of mine :)

After Cardcaptor Sakura ended, I had always been looking for my Sakura X Syaoran fix, to the extent of reading fan fiction. Then Tsubasa came along and satisfied that itch. Volume 1 of both series were also present at the exhibition, hidden below Volume 2.

K-ON! by Kakifly. I like the anime, but can't really get into the original manga art...

According to some of the text accompanying Bleach, they are banking on it being the heir to Weekly Shounen Jump. Kinda weird, considering how well One Piece is doing, and how even Naruto (which is only 90 chapters ahead of Bleach) is more popular. Anyway, I'll leave you with some more photos of the exhibits.

Some awesome Volume Ones here available for you to read!

If this exhibition lacked something, it was Mitsuru Adachi. Katsu and H2 were present, but Touch and Cross Game were nowhere in sight. Boooo!!

There was also a mini art exhibit of paintings inspired by various manga series. See if you name the inspirations:

Learned quite a bit about manga from this exhibition. It has even sparked an interest in reading some older works (Astro Boy and Ashita no Joe tops my to-read list).

The Manga & Anime! Japan exhibition will only be open one more day, so if you are interested in taking a closer look at the manga they have there, head down to the following address:

Japan Creative Centre
4 Nassim Road
Singapore 258372
Opening time: 10am – 6pm

Hoped you liked this rather long post. Tried to take as many photos as possible with this post in mind. Next mega post is coming soon (hint: an event this weekend), so do look forward to it!

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