The World of Girls’ Manga exhibit and my first academic presentation

I briefly mentioned the fact that I recently attended an academic conference (symposium, to be exact) in a previous post as an excuse for not blogging for a while, but I figured since my topic and the theme of the symposium are relevant to this blog, why not blog about it? It’s okay for me take a moment to gloat about my very first name tag (shown above) and the fact that I got to attend the World of Girls’ Manga art exhibit from Kyoto International Manga Museum at the same event, right? (that’s a rhetorical question – this is my blog and I’m going to do it anyway!)

Don’t worry, just because I presented in an academic setting, I certainly haven’t let it go to my head. In fact, it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. For the curious, my paper was titled “From Shōjo to Boys’ Love (BL) and Back Again: Yoshinaga Fumi and the Diversification of Male-Male Romance in Japanese Manga.” I won’t go into the details of the paper because 1) it will probably bore many of you and 2) I’m planning on presenting a modified version in January which will then go on to be published in a journal somewhere down the track and I don’t want anyone stealing my ideas (hah), but I do have something else I’m very keen to discuss… 

Namely, the gorgeous full-color World of Girls’ Comics book that each and every one of the presenters at the 2-day symposium received, including myself! It’s chock-full of gorgeous illustrations and information on early shojo manga artists. I couldn’t have asked for a better memento of my first academic presentation.

Though I won’t go into too much detail, I just can’t help but share some of the exquisite art from this book! Each artist featured in the exhibition has a short biography in both English and Japanese, along with a number of illustrations, of which have been restored using the Kyoto International Manga Museum’s special Genga'(Dash) preservation technique.

 A lot of these early artists are people I’m only vaguely familiar with, if that, so this book has really opened my eyes to a lot of stunning work that I wouldn’t have known otherwise!

This is by the same artist as the image above, Katsuji Matsumoto. Her eyes are kind of derpy looking and I’m not sure what she’s doing with her hands, but there’s something really appealing about this piece to me.

Many early shojo manga artists, particularly those in the 60s and early 70s, were actually men. I don’t think many western fans realize that the popular artist behind the above illustrations, Macoto Takahashi, was actually a man! I love his attention to detail.

Another male artist, Satoo Tomoe, wasn’t afraid of drawing war-related illustrations. For better or for worse, any anime/manga-style work involving children will inevitably remind me of Grave of the Fireflies.

There was another piece from the series shown above, Shiroi toroika (White Troika) at the exhibit I attended that really grabbed me, to the point that I think I want to track the original manga down and read it someday. It was drawn by Hideko Mizuno.

Not all of the works included are color illustrations – there are also a number of original manga pages, which I find utterly fascinating. See if you can make out the the differently-colored text portions. I assume these were edits of some kind. This page is from Anasutashia no suteki na otonari (Anastasia’s Wonderful Neighbor) by Yukiko Kai.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a book about early shojo manga without some crazy shojo window eyes. I’m not particularly fond of the above illustration, but you’ve gotta admit it’s something else! This one’s from Aiba Enzeru (My Horse Angel) by Kimiko Uehara.

Last but not least, one of my personal favorite manga artists from this period, Keiko Takemiya. She’s actually a teacher at Kyoto Seika University in their manga studies program, and she was the supervising editor behind this collection. I find her dedication to restoring and preserving works from her early years as a manga artist and teaching others really inspiring.

Well, there you have it! Memories to last a lifetime. If you’re interested in reading more about the symposium and exhibit, you can do so at the official page here.

About Anne Lee

Also known as apricotsushi. Anne can be written with the kanji for apricot (杏), and sushi was the most quintessentially Japanese thing I could think of when I was 13, resulting in my goofy, albeit memorable, nickname.