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Miraikan turns comic-book fantasies into high-tech reality

by Kai Harada

Staff Writer

When you were a kid, did you dream of having marvelous tools and supernatural powers like the characters in comics had? If so, your dream might be about to come true. Welcome to “Experience Manga Through Science,” a new exhibition at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Odaiba, Tokyo.

In the exhibition, the wonderful gadgets and supernatural powers used by the heroes and heroines of Japanese manga are simulated using current technologies. The show is designed to stimulate the imagination, explore Japan’s manga culture, and celebrate the possibilities afforded by technology.

The exhibition has five areas, each featuring famous Japanese manga: “Tetsuwan Atomu” (Astro Boy) by Osamu Tezuka; “Doraemon” by Fujiko F. Fujio; “Cyborg 009″ by Shotaro Ishinomori, “Kaibutsu-kun” (Little Monster) by Fujiko Fujio A; and “Himitsu no Akko-chan” (Secret Akko-chan) by Fujio Akatsuka.

The “Cyborg 009″ area is dedicated to sound and visual technology. Visitors can take down invisible enemies by using special goggles called “stop motion goggles” and a special display that reads eye movements to create an image in a room. The “Koekatamarin” (voice thickener) is a potion that is used in “Doraemon” to turn speech into physical text. With the exhibition’s version, everything you say is turned into text that is projected on a screen, and on-screen cartoon characters react to it. It’s almost like making your own cartoon just by speaking. Now that sounds like a thing of dreams!

“Experience Manga Through Science” at the Miraikan in Odaiba, Tokyo, runs till Oct. 15. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Tue. Tickets cost ¥1,300 for adults and ¥700 for children under 18. For more information, visit www.miraikan.jst.go.jp or call 03-3570-9151.