At the British Museum there is currently an exhibition on Manga (Japanese comics). Along with the exhibition in London there is an extensive companion book. This tome along with the exhibit looks to catalogue the ever expanding world of Japanese comics and also investigates the history of the medium. Nicole Rousmaniere is the lead curator of the exhibition and this afternoon is in conversation with reviewer and book seller Joe Gordon at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
One of the problems with Manga is that the medium is so vast and expansive it is difficult to know where to begin. The book does a good job of looking at different elements of Manga and includes interviews with editors, publishers, writers, illustrators and translators. It also covers many sub-genres including sport, science-fiction, queer and LGBT manga and also fantasy. Rousmaniere begins the event by giving an illustrated talk. She speaks eloquently and passionately about Japanese comics and highlights the work of Chiba Tetsuya, Katshiro Otomo and the all female collective CLAMP. Rousmaniere goes on to talk about how Manga combines with other media and that people can get into Japanese comics through animation and games: “If you look at manga, animation and gaming they all seem to come out of the same thing. It is all about convergence and lots of people come to Manga through Anime (Japanese animation).”
The book is divided up into six sections, as with the exhibition. Rousmaniere states that the book goes more in depth and shows how Manga is a format like no other: “Manga goes where words can’t go and sometimes to places western comics can’t go as well.” The example she gives is the beautiful comic, The Willow Tree, by Hagio Moto. This comic is reproduced in the book and is a fine example of how emotional, visual and touching Manga can be. The event just flies by and it is obvious that Rousmaniere could have spent hours talking about Manga. The book is definitely a good introduction to the medium and even offers something new to more experienced Manga and comic readers. It also gives people the chance to experience the exhibition if they cannot attend the British Museum before the exhibit closes on August 26 2019.