Nearly 60 years after the United States dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the closing days of World War II, the aftermath lingers in the visions of artists like Takashi Murakami and Seitaro Kuroda, whose works are being showcased in Manhattan galleries throughout this month.

As a neo-pop artist who rose to fame in the 1990s, Murakami used his fascination with “otaku,” a computer-nerd subculture marked by obsession with “manga” (comics) and “anime” (animation), to curate his show, “Little Boy: The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture,” at the Japan Society until Sunday.

Murakami’s reference to Little Boy, the code name for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, was intentional.

“I think that if I was explaining what the otaku culture came out of, it wasn’t just about being defeated in a war,” Murakami said. “But the way that the war ended was with an atomic explosion where there was a complete whiteout, and so I think that out of the ashes of that came a unique culture.”

Murakami, who became famous for designing Louis Vuitton handbags, identified the blast as the seed from which the otaku movement took root.

Its later emergence in the early 1980s largely focused on darkly fantastic science fiction, video games, manga and anime.

Over the last three decades, Murakami has felt that Japan’s pop culture and graphic arts have been shaped by his country’s war memories and postwar dependence on the United States.

The war and its aftermath, he believes, led to a breakdown of a traditional, hierarchal society, which was then replaced by a disposable, consumer-oriented one geared to kids and adolescents fixated on things “kawaii,” or cute.

The exhibition — involving some 1,500 objects — brings together drawings from Japan’s leading anime and manga artists, vintage toys and merchandise from postwar and contemporary Japan, including characters ranging from Godzilla to Hello Kitty. There are also paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations by leading Japanese neo-pop artists.

Although Murakami was born in 1962, well after the end of the war, he has been heavily influenced by the impact of the atomic blasts. Like Taro Okamoto, who left Japan for Paris in an effort to break new ground, Murakami came to New York in search of his own form of “original art” and gained new perspectives on his homeland.

“That is why I started thinking about what our country is and how Nihon (Japan) developed into the way it is now,” the artist said. “So now that I planned and curated ‘Little Boy’ in New York, I feel I am finally free from everything and am expressing myself more freely now.”

Meg Holscher, who works at the Brooklyn Museum and attended the opening, was excited by original art that reflects Japan’s “young voices.”

Some have criticized the pieces for being flat and not evoking emotion, but the 29-year-old countered this view.

“Although it appears flat at first, when you look at it again, it evokes some thought and feeling, and in that sense is rich.”

She added that some exhibits are “cloaked in cuteness” but upon deeper inspection reveal “darker issues” that might be reflective of the Japanese psyche.

In contrast to the Murakami project, which traces the otaku movement as it relates to the atomic blasts, another exhibit, “ATOMICA: Making the Invisible Visible,” captures the explosion as artwork.

Kuroda, along with Hironobu Yamabe in their collaborative piece “Pikadon,” were among 35 international artists whose works were brought together by Ombretta Agro’Andruff, the show’s curator.

The joint project between Kuroda and Yamabe consists of 98 postcard-size transparencies of drawings that depict various manifestations of the mushroom cloud.

Central to each piece is use of the cloud to create playful, colorful and even touching scenes with children.

“If a picture is worth a thousand words or more, then this sort of piece galvanizes your thinking,” said Diane Beeny, an artist and activist.

Agro’Andruff has been working hard since 1998 to pull together so-called atomic artists to showcase their works in an effort to open up a public dialogue on the subject, particularly as the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approaches.

She said she believes all of the artists were attracted to the destructive cloud, which is at the same time “beautiful” and “powerful,” but each took a clearly distinct approach.

What sets Kuroda apart from the others is his “childlike” work with its “fresh” quality.

“It is a visual dialogue,” she said of “Pikadon.” “I think it is very simple, but powerful and direct.”

The curator selected the Italian word — atomica — for the show to better convey how “nuclear power is invisible to the eyes” yet “visible as artwork.”

Nobuho Nagasawa borrowed from the late American artist Andy Warhol to make a display of Campbell’s mushroom cloud soup, while Hiroshi Sunairi used Japanese calligraphy to protest the bomb in his pieces.

“Atomica” is being shown at the Esso Gallery and Lombard-Freid Fine Arts in Manhattan through July 29.

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