KYOTO — An exhibition of the latest manga, “anime,” art and the next generation of electronic entertainment technology from Japan and abroad opened Thursday in Kyoto.
Since 1997, the Cultural Affairs Agency has sponsored an international festival of Japanese and foreign manga and anime artists, as well as those artists working on modern designs or involved in entertainment.
Last year’s festival in Tokyo drew around 63,000 people from 54 countries to the 2,000-plus exhibits on display.
The Japan Arts Festival in Kyoto marks the first time the top prizewinners at past festivals have been exhibited in the Kansai region. Sponsored by the agency as well as the city, the show takes place at the Kyoto Art Center and the Kyoto International Manga Museum, which are cosponsoring the event.
At the art center, the line between art and entertainment technology is blurred, with exhibition halls feeling more like a futuristic video arcade than an art gallery.
In one room, visitors stand in front of a large white machine with a horizontal video screen, reminiscent of the tabletop video games found in coffee shops many years ago. On top of the screen are small plastic pieces on which animated characters are projected from the screen underneath.
Move the pieces across the electronic board and they move, change direction or start talking. The whole effect feels a bit like an electronic, interactive form of the ancient “kamishibai” paper stories that originated in Buddhist temples nearly 1,000 years ago. “Street Fighter II” was never this cool.
At the manga museum, about a 15-minute walk from the art center, six manga, all winners from last year’s exhibition, are on display, including the grand prize winner, “Vinland Saga” by Makoto Yukimura, who began writing this “Lord of the Rings”-like tale in 2005.
In addition, the art center will screen 33 anime films from last year’s festival. About 10,000 people are expected to visit both the art and manga center. The exhibition closes in Kyoto on Sept. 12 then moves on to Okayama later this year.