Your chance to see how Urasawa Naoki classics like Monster and 20th Century Boys have influenced the manga field.
The last few years have seen a few major manga exhibitions in the UK, but ones often general in their scope, never devoted as such to a particular manga artist (or mangaka, to use the Japanese term) in particular. The late Osamu Tezuka, often hailed as the God of Manga, has yet to be celebrated in the country, for example, although Tezuka-inspired comic book opus Pluto did see a stage adaptation at London's Barbican Centre last year.
The author of that manga was Urasawa Naoki, arguably the second-most legendary figure in the field, creator of classics like the apocalyptic cult saga of 20th Century Boys and psycho-thriller Monster. Such work is often punctuated with social commentary, with the judo and gender politics combo of Yawara! (below) and the horror of inequality that haunts Monster.
Since his professional debut in 1983, Urasawa's drawing style has become famous for innovative compositional techniques and bold black and white panels.
His international breakthrough came in the mid-1990s with the release of Monster, and since then sales of his works have reached over 127 million books in Japan alone, with titles published in more than 20 countries.
At the heart of this success is his passion for manga and resolve as an artist. In an industry that has become increasingly global, Urasawa continues to retain his unique style and personal devotion to his craft.
Held at London's Japan House, the retrospective This is Manga – the Art of Urasawa Naoki will introduce Urasawa’s ideas from inception through development, with more than 400 original drawings and storyboards on display. Selected stories from seven of his major works will be presented, highlighting the breadth of the artist’s narrative styles.
A reading corner will be set up in the exhibition space with full English translations of his bestselling stories, and through changing displays four consecutive stories from Yawara! will be presented over the course of the exhibition, with one story every two weeks. This way visitors will be encouraged to return repeatedly to experience the work in the weekly serial style of many Japanese comic anthologies.
The exhibition will coincide with the Manga show running at the British Museum from May 23rd, billed as the largest exhibition of the art form ever to take place outside of Japan. Japan House London will collaborate with the museum on a range of events including anime film screenings, late events, lectures and workshops, with This is Manga – the Art of Urasawa Naoki running from the 5th of June to July 28th 2019.