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Gallery: Katsuhiro Otomo GENGA Exhibition

by Adrian Lozano & Egan Loo,

(c) MASHROOM 2012 (c) Kōsuke Kawamura 2012

Acclaimed manga creator and anime director Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, Memories, Steamboy) unveiled his Tokyo art exhibition and his latest anime short during a preview on Saturday.

Otomo is a native of Miyagi Prefecture, one of the areas hardest hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake (Higashi Nihon Daishinsai) disaster last year. His desire to raise funds for earthquake charity led to the "Otomo Katsuhiro Genga Exhibition," which chronicles his 39 years as a solo manga creator and as a collaborative anime filmmaker.

The exhibition devotes three rooms to his original manga art, ingeniously and elegantly arrayed on hundreds of thin wires as if the pages were part of a giant cutaway diagram. Most of Otomo's original art for his two massive Kaba artbook tomes were also on display, and they reveal his contemplative musings and his whimsical, if sometimes dark, sense of humor.

Many fellow manga and anime creators joined Otomo at preview night, including Takehiko Inoue (Vagabond, Slam Dunk), Koji Morimoto (Memories' "Magnetic Rose," The Animatrix's "Beyond," Genius Party's "Dimension Bomb") and Naoki Urasawa (Yawara!, 20th Century Boys, Monster). Throughout preview night, the artists filled one blank wall with tribute sketches to Otomo, and Otomo drew a few sketches himself.

The exhibition ends with a full-size replica of Kaneda's iconic motorcycle from the Akira manga and anime. Visitors are allowed to — in fact, encouraged to — put on a red leather jacket provided at the exhibition, sit on the motorcycle's low-slung seat, and relive childhood fantasies. A collection box stands near the motorcycle, silently nudging visitors to donate to a fund to fight autism.

Later in the evening, Otomo previewed "Hi-no-youjin" ("Combustible"), the first anime he directed since Steamboy. With traditional 2D animation and CG techniques, Otomo and the anime studio Sunrise recreate Otomo's Hi no Yōjin manga short as an unrolling Japanese art scroll. The short depicts the lives on people caught in the Great Edo Fire of 1657, and it will be part of Otomo's Short Peace anthology film with shorts by three other animators. Traditional Japanese performers surprised the audience after the screening with a high-energy dance, complete with taiko drums.

The exhibition will open to the public on Monday at Tokyo's 3331 Arts Chiyoda center, and it will run until May 30.

Images (c) MASHROOM 2012 (c) Kōsuke Kawamura 2012

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