Manga is a 2D world, one that is depicted on flat surfaces like paper. We, the readers, enjoy it through our eyes. However, the more we become endeared to a manga, the less satisfied we become with just using our eyes, and so manga finds a second life in anime, figures, stage adaptations and so on. How will we enjoy the world of manga next? Well, one hint can perhaps be found in an exhibition about Fujiko F. Fujio (the nom de plume of Hiroshi Fujimoto) currently on show until October 6th at Tokyo Tower, in celebration of eighty years since the manga artist’s birth. This time you don’t get use your eyes but the manga world is literally jumping out of the 2D realm. Using the latest technology, Fujiko’s past work is presented in a whole new way.
Manga through the latest technology
The exhibits were unusual in that they took old manga and combined them with the latest developments in technology. From the rooftop 55/80 Square we went down to the fourth floor exhibition floor to the SF Theatre (which sounds like “sci-fi” but actually stands for sukoshi fushiki — “a bit mysterious”) where we were greeted by Fujiko’s main characters. On one wall was an intriguing bookcase-like wall and desk. The story then unfolded: Fujiko’s original pictures were sucked up into the drawer of the desk and his characters then chased after them on a trip through time back to the dinosaur age. While a simple enough narrative, seeing scene after scene like this felt like encountering a different world to that of manga on the page or as an anime. In particular, elements like the sound of the paper flying through the air or the sense of the wind when the characters were riding on the time machine really showcase the sensory fun to be had with state-of-the-art technology.
The cinema uses projection mapping, which no doubt is familiar to PingMag readers. This particular event featured so-called “4D projection mapping”, where the “bookcase” was projected into an irregularly surfaced area and from this the characters would jump out at the audience.
When manga changed from being for kids to being for adolescents
Continuing through the four floor there were exhibits with original drawings from Fujiko’s manga, as well as a space where you could see what it’s like to act out the comics, immersing yourself more and more in his world. What was also very interesting here was how there were two very different exhibits: one showcasing “gag manga” like ‘Doraemon’, ‘Perman’ and ‘Kiteretsu Daihyakka’ for kids, and another ‘SF Shorts World’ section for older visitors.
When Fujiko F. Fujio was writing manga, it was just at the time when the readership of comics was beginning to expand gradually from kids to adolescents. Needless to say, Fujiko’s manga was very well thought of as gag manga for children and these readers continued to read his work after they became adults, though your impression changes. He created the ‘SF Shorts’ as a way of increasing the range of his readers. At the Tokyo Tower exhibition this part of the event mainly featured covers from the series over an entire wall. These were still popular with kids too and many were ardently pouring over the pictures on display.
The exhibition was almost like entering the whole world created by Fujiko F. Fujio. He left some 50,000 original pictures, which have formed the collection of his eponymous museum in Kawasaki and the basis for this exhibition.
In the last room of the exhibition you could read interviews with Fujiko F. Fujio, as well as see colored paper pictures left by some famous people who have visited the event. These include not only manga-ka like Fujiko Fujio A, Masahito Soda, Kazuhiro Fujita and Taiyo Matsumoto, but also people from other fields — Masaharu Fukuyama, Takashi Murakami and Shoji Kokami. It’s certainly rare to get so many examples from such a variety of people, which must be proof of how popular Fujiko F. Fujio’s work remains.
Why Tokyo Tower?
The ‘Fujiko F. Fujio Exhibition’ has been organized to celebrate eighty years since the manga artist was born. He also already has his own dedicated museum in Kawasaki. So why then is there the need to hold this special exhibition at another location? Well, because his work is a true symbol of the Showa era in Japan and as such is inseparable from Tokyo Tower. You can see this in the staircase that you descend from the fourth floor, where the walls are decorated with cells from Fujiko F. Fujio manga featuring the landmark. You can look at the cut-out cells and wonder what story they are taken from.
From Doraemon and his take-copter and fuwafuwa obi gadgets, to Perman, Fujiko F. Fujio’s characters often fly. In these kinds of scenes, Tokyo Tower is also essential. For readers at the time, it was a real dream to be able to go higher than the famous landmark.
While contemplating what Fujiko’s depiction of the twenty-first century would have been like, for now you can enjoy his nostalgic twentieth century work along with Tokyo Tower.
‘Fujiko F. Fujio Exhibition’
Until October 6th