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London Manga Masterclass Report

Summary of Masterclass presented by manga artist Seiji Iwami.

The website of the Embassy of Japan in London has published a report about a recent masterclass given by manga artist Seiji Iwami. A Japanese Cultural Envoy, Iwami has been an artist for three decades for publications such as Manga Times, which carries four-frame strip cartoons. In 2000, he drew portraits of 2,000 people in two weeks in a "Japan Week" event organized by the Japan Consulate to Chejudo in Korea.

Mr Iwami's visit on February 18 coincided with a prizegiving ceremony for the Embassy's Manga Jiman 2010 competition, details here. The first prize went to the Bristol-based female artist Clio Millett for her entry Beyond Raging Waves. All the entries are displayed at the Embassy until March 31; the exhibition details are here. 'Manga Jiman' means 'Having Pride in Manga.'

From the report of Mr Iwami's Masterclass:

Mr Iwami was impressed by the quality of the Manga Jiman Competition contestants. However, he felt that, if anything, they were trying too hard to replicate the Japanese essence of manga. The UK had a wealth of theatrical tradition and he wanted to see these young Britons reflect this heritage in their work. "After all, when you eat sushi abroad, it's always a little different. And haggis made by a Japanese may not taste quite like the real thing!" He urged the contestants to impose their own personalities and identities on their work.

As for the ingredients for success as a manga artist, Mr Iwami emphasised that it is ultimately a form of entertainment. Thus, if one is to transcend the amateur level as an artist, one has to consider one's audience. Just as a novel differs from a diary regarding whom it is written for, a manga artist must keep in mind his or her role as an entertainer.


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