MANGA マンガ | London, British Museum

This is the largest exhibition of manga ever to take place outside of Japan. But to newcomers in particular, this exhibition is like educational tapas (or should you say, sushi?). The exhibition opens with a large picture display of Mimi, a Manga White Rabbit, greeting us with “Konnichiwa”, who also crops up with fun facts throughout the exhibition.

The anthropomorphic, cartoonish fun of Handscrolls of Frolicking Animals is on display and heavily referenced throughout the exhibition: it looks a bit like manga — it’s from the 1100s. All manner of manga through the ages, and even some photos, show us how Manga has continued to evolve throughout the history of Japan.

The exhibition captures the immense pluralism within manga. From Matsumoto Taiyō’s caricatured clowns, to the morose, haunted sketches of Tsuge Yoshiharu, as well as the hyper-feminine art of Keiko Takemiya, it quickly dispels the popular western myth that all manga looks the same.

The exhibition is very family-friendly, with plenty of room given over to Astro Boy, Dragon Ball, and even Pikachu. Japanese manga is renowned for sometimes extreme violence and sexualisation: there is nothing remotely graphic about this exhibition. Manga-geeks are unlikely to find any particular new insights, but this exhibition offers a well-curated introduction to the global phenomenon.

Dive into the world of MANGA マンガ until 26 August 2019.

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