In an attempt to bolster its artistic pedigree, manga has sought parentage in the popular ukiyo-e woodblock prints of the Edo Period (1603-1868) that achieved high-art status from the late decades of the 19th century. There are compelling reasons for establishing such parent/offspring connections. “Mizuki Shigeru: Illustrations of Yokai” at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, however, offers a reason for why that history might be jettisoned in favor of comparing such work with other contemporaneous manga and animation.
Comics and animations by Mizuki (b. 1922) featuring yokai (supernatural beings) are well known in Japan, particularly the wildly popular adventures of the one-eyed hero in “Gegege no Kitaro.” This exhibition is devoted to Mizuki’s depictions of fantastic creatures that have their historic roots in various prefectures of Japan, and for which the artist borrows freely the designs of his artistic forbears such as Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861).