Comics artist and movie director Katsuhiro Otomo, internationally renowned for his manga “Akira” and other works, is currently holding his first full-fledged exhibition of original drawings of his comics.
The exhibition, now under way in Tokyo, features a total of about 3,000 original drawings, including all of the 2,300 pieces for "Akira."
“It is my biggest job to show what I think is the best,” said Otomo, 57, who has been a comics artist since 1973.
Initially, Otomo had been preparing to publish a book of his artwork for the first time in 20 years. As part of the effort, he had planned to hold a small-scale exhibition of original drawings in 2012 at the earliest.
After the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake, however, he thought that he wanted to do something as a person who had grown up in Miyagi Prefecture, an area hit hard by the disaster.
Then, he hit upon the idea of making his small exhibition a full-fledged charity event for disaster victims.
“I want as many people as possible to come to the exhibition,” he said.
"Akira" is Otomo’s leading work, which has been adapted to anime. The manga has the largest number of original drawings among all of his works.
In "Akira," Otomo depicted a society in which people with supernatural powers appear in a deserted Tokyo of the near future. He also drew collapsing buildings and the city’s landscapes in detail. His drawing style influenced other comic artists along with those of his other works, including, “Domu” (A child’s dream).
In the exhibition, Otomo is showing his original drawings under glass cases so that visitors can see all of the original artwork for "Akira" up close. The display makes visitors aware of the huge effort Otomo put into his work.
Today, comics are often adapted for movies and TV anime. Toys based on the characters in the comics are also manufactured in many cases. As a result, comics influence people who may not even know the works they are based on.
“The power of comics is great,” Otomo said.
He feels that his exhibition of original drawings will allow him to convey the possibilities held by manga.
The exhibition is scheduled to run through May 30 at “3331 Arts Chiyoda” in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. (Visitors are required to make reservations.)
The original drawings on display include those of not only "Akira" and "Domu" but also Otomo's other works, including “Kibun wa mo Senso” (The mood is already that of a war) and “Sayonara Nippon” (Goodbye Japan).
Part of the proceeds from the exhibition will be donated for recovery efforts in the Tohoku region.
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