Japan House London Manga Season begins tomorrow

The Japan House London Manga Season begins tomorrow, Monday 20th May, with a series of LGBT+ related events exploring diversity in manga.

Together with the massive MANGA Exhibition at the British Museum opening 23rd May, there really couldn’t be a better time to find out more about the art form if you’re visiting or living in the capital.

Coming up are talks by internationally renowned manga artists Hagio Moto and Tagame Gengoroh, whose works have helped develop manga into a medium for challenging stereotypes and increasing acceptance of LGBT+ community in Japan.

Art by Hagio Moto

The season opens with a free talk tonight, “It’s a Girls’ World” on Shojo Manga with artist Hagio Moto and Editor Furukawa Asako.

One defining characteristic of manga is its broad appeal – a major part of the Japanese publishing industry since the 1950s, comics in Japan are read by all genders and ages and encompass a wide range of genres targeted to diverse demographic groups.

Since the post-war period two marketing categories have come to dominate the industry: shonen manga (manga aimed at boys) and shojo manga (manga aimed at girls). Published in specialist magazines targeted at their respective audiences, both types of manga deal with a range of themes reflecting the interests and desires of their readerships.

The special evening features one of the foremost and most beloved artists of shojo manga, Hagio Moto. One of a group of innovative female manga artists who came to prominence in the 1970s, Hagio Moto and her peers are credited with pioneering many of the developments that have come to define modern shojo manga and transformed it into the wide-ranging and highly popular genre it is today, experimenting with content and style and developing new subgenres including shonen-ai (stories featuring love between boys).

Hagio will be joined in conversation with editor Furukawa Asako, who will provide a special behind-the-scenes perspective on the role of the editor in the collaborative, fast-paced and complex manga industry.

Hagio Moto made her professional debut in 1969 at the age of 20 with a short story ‘Lulu to Mimi’. Her major works include The Poe Clan, The Heart of Thomas, They Were Eleven and A Cruel God Reigns. Often considered a ‘founding mother’ of modern shojo manga, Hagio’s works contributed greatly to the development of the genre and influenced generations of manga artists.

Since joining Shogakukan in 1995, Furukawa Asako has edited numerous manga titles and currently is the Deputy Editor of the popular monthly shojo manga magazine Flowers. She edited a new publication of Hagio Moto’s The Poe Clan for its 40th anniversary in 2016 and continues to work closely with Hagio Moto as an editor.

Art by Tagame Gengoroh

Find out what’s on here about other upcoming events in the season on the Japan House London web site, which include a talk by Haba Yoshitaka, founder and director of BACH, a leading expert in the emerging field of ‘book direction’, curator of the Library at Japan House, who is dedicated to creating innovative ways in which we interact with books; and a talk this Wednesday, 22nd May, celebrating the opening of the new library displayLGBT+: Diversity in Manga’, Book curator Haba Yoshitaka is joined in conversation with renowned manga artist Tagame Gengoroh, to discuss his ground-breaking work My Brother’s Husband.

An author of dozens of graphic novels and stories translated into multiple languages, My Brother’s Husband is Tagame’s first title for all ages. Beautifully illustrated, the series is a moving, complex and often heart-breaking depiction of the struggle for gay acceptance in contemporary Japan.

Critically acclaimed both domestically and internationally, it has earned Tagame multiple awards including the Japan Media Arts Award for Outstanding Work of Manga from The Agency of Cultural Affairs.

LGBT+: Diversity in Manga Exhibition Banner - Japan House London 2019Also not to be missed is the Japan House Library display of LGBT+ manga, running until Saturday 31st August, exploring the various ways in which gender and sexuality are portrayed in Japanese manga culture.

Exhibited works include ‘the god of manga’ Tekuza Osamu’s Princess Knight (Ribon no kishi) which depicts a cross-dressing female knight; and pieces from the shōnen-ai genre (also known as ‘Boys Love’ or ‘BL’), a category featuring romantic relationships between young male characters developed by mangaka including Hagio Moto, Takemiya Keiko and Oshima Yumiko, pioneering artists of shōjo manga (‘girls comics’).

Also on display are modern works by Yoshinaga Fumi and Kumota Haruko, who are known for working in a variety of genres including ‘Boys Love’, and whose works have been strongly influenced by Takemiya Keiko’s ground-breaking Kaze to Ki no Uta manga, first published in the 1970s.

The manga on display has been selected from different eras, but each work depicts diverse representations of gender and sexuality expression. Through the display, guests can understand how manga culture has played a role in helping to challenge and soften stereotypes and often rigid social norms in the somewhat conservative society of Japan, and as a result helped to generate increased acceptance of LGBT+ community.

• Japan House London, 101-111 Kensington High Street, London W8 5SA | Find out what’s on here on the Japan House London web site

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