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att. Japanese Culture - Anime
att. Culture - Anime
att.JAPAN Issue 28, May 2006


Anime - above and beyond normal levels of fun and enjoyment.

"Manga" were once thought to be read only by Japanese children around the early 1960s. When they entered junior high school, the children were supposed to 'graduate' from manga. However, look at today's Japan, view the current situation surrounding manga and anime and you will understand why many call them the 'soft power of Japan.' They really are one of the items representative of Japanese culture today as Japanese anime and manga spread their arms over the world. Interestingly, much of the subject matter for anime and manga comes from Japanese traditional culture.

In time, the Japanese government started to support the industry and the development of related fields which led to new variations on anime and manga popping up one after the other. Voice actors become famous people and the Tokyo Anime Center opened in Akihabara, Tokyo, in March of 2006.

Just why anime attracts so much attention though is simple in that anime is amusing and enjoyable for all - young or old. "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind," "Princess Momonoke" and "My Neighbor Totoro" have left deep impressions on many, "Onepiece" inspires with its adventurous spirit and "Fullmetal Alchemist" portrays the principle of equivalent exchange. "Gundam" makes an impact far beyond only being a robot themed anime and "Ghost in the Shell" fascinates us with its cool images. "Neon Genisis Evangelion" brings out our inner world while "Lupin III" is about a good, old fashioned and cool hero. "Chibi Maruko-chan" and "Sazae-san" are heartwarming anime films from the past and many goods connected to the above can be found around Japan so in this column, I will introduce anime-related museums, shops and events you can enjoy in Japan.

Tokyo International Anime Fair Tokyo International Anime Fair
The 5th Tokyo International Anime Fair was held at Tokyo Big Sight for 4 days from March 23rd, 2006. Approximately 100,000 people visited and 250 anime-related companies participated in the fair. Only trade related parties could enter on the business days of March 23rd and 24th, but the venues were still then full. Trailers of topical films including "Tales from Earthsea (Gedo Senki)," (the latest film produced by Studio Ghibli) and a TV series anime program "NANA" were both shown. A full-size Kenshiro doll representing the hero of "Fist of the North Star" was displayed and women wearing costumes of Rei Ayanami from "Neon Genisis Evangelion" were seen at the venue. Furthermore, an announcement about a new TV series anime titled "Le Chevalier D'Eon" was made from the event stage.

To Ubukata originally wrote the story and Production I.G - creators of "Ghost in the Shell" and "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" - will create the picture. It is an historical romance describing the life of a handsome and gifted knight who lived in France in the 18th century. The next Tokyo International Anime Fair will be held in 2007.

 Ghibli Museum, Mitaka
Upon entering this museum, you will find Ghibli World. Illustrations hand drawn by Hayao Miyazaki are displayed all around the building and like the anime films produced by Studio Ghibli, the museum is filled with the spirit of service and attention to detail. Even if you haven't seen Ghibli films, once you visit, you will become a fan of Ghibli anime. Feel free to touch the storyboards of past Ghibli films and displays as the concept of this museum is completely different to that of other museums where you only view items displayed in glass cases.

A Robot Soldier stands motionlessly on a roof garden overgrown by unruly wild grasses but why not enter the five rooms on the first floor titled "Where a Film is Born"? The rooms seem to belong to someone who was sketching at the desk just a few minutes ago and is filled with books and toys. The walls are all covered with illustrations and sketches. This room provides lots of inspiration for what will go on to the blank piece of paper on the desk to become the origin of an actual film. In the reading room "TRI HAWKS," you will find picture books and children's books which are recommended reading selected by Ghibli Museum and its executive director Hayao Miyazaki. "Aardman Exhibition" is held in the exhibition room from May 20th, 2006. Overall, the museum is like a labyrinth meaning that many people get lost, without finding an exit. No matter how many times you visit, you will enjoy the museum but entrance to the museum is strictly by advance purchase of a reserved ticket which specifies the appointed date and time of the reservation - to prevent crowding and confusion, and to ensure that each visitor will have a safe and pleasant experience. On how to purchase tickets from outside of Japan, please check with your local ticket sales agent or check the Ghibli Museum home page at http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/.

 Aardman Exhibition
'Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-rabbit' won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature of 2005 and was produced using a "clay animation" method (in which clay dolls are gradually 'moved') by the England based "Aardman," animation production company.

At the exhibition, visitors can see displays on the making of animated films, the real life situation in a film studio, the methods and technology used in making this type of animation film and also a selection of real dolls used in past productions.

1-1-83 Shimorenjaku, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo (Within Mitaka Inokashira Park)
Tel: 0422-40-2233

From Mitaka Station South Exit, walk approximately 15mins alongside the Tamagawa Josui "Waterworks" to reach the museum. A community bus is in operation from Mitaka Station to the museum with one-way fares set at 200 yen and the round trip at 300 yen (1/2 price for children under 12-years-of-age).

Admission Fees
Over 19-years: 1,000 yen, 13-18-years: 700 yen, 7-12-years: 400 yen, 4-6-years: 100 yen.
*Charges will be calculated in your local currency at the current rate of exchange, and will also include a handling fee.

Gundam Mandarake
Mandarake started life as a secondhand comic book shop on Nakano Broadway in Tokyo and now has branches throughout the country. At present, it has 21 outlets on Nakano Broadway. The main store sells comic books of all genres, from boy's comics to girl's comics and numbering over 210,000 books in total as well as rather special deals in "Special 1" in the shape of nostalgic, old toys made of chogokin (superalloy). Figures of "Godzilla," "Kamen Rider" and "UFO Robo Grendizer" are particularly popular. "Special 3" sells newer toys that include action figures, plastic models. "Gundam" and "Sailor Moon." In addition, for those interested in buying celluloid pictures, simply visit Cel Store to find a number of rare cell pictures.

If dressing up is your thing, why not buy a costume and 'become' your favorite character at Cosplay Gallery. "Sailor Moon" goods fly off the shelves at Gacha-Paradise and many foreigners are known to visit these shops with some enthusiasts even making the trip from overseas to seek out certain items.

Goods related to "Fist of the North Star," "Gundam" and "Dragon Ball" are especially popular with foreign visitors and those who can't make the trip can purchase via the Internet.
5-52-15 Nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-3228-0007

 Museums & Shop list
Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum (Takarazuka City, Hyogo)
Osamu Tezuka is often called "the father of manga" as he produced approximately 700 works, 150,000 pages of script and more than 60 films during his career. In front of the museum, statues of Hi no Tori (Phoenix) and Astro Boy stand to welcome visitors and for those interested, the actual production of animation can be experienced at Anime Kobo (studio).
7-65 Mukogawa-cho, Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture
Tel: 0797-81-2970

Bandai Museum (Matsudo, Chiba)
Toys connected to "Gundam," "The Ultraman," "Kamen Rider," "Secret Battle Team Five Ranger (Himitsu Sentai Gorenjaa)," "Godzilla," "Mazinger Z" and "Onepiece" are sold by Bandai. The museum itself hosts the world's first Gundam Museum.
Piaza Matsudo Bldg., 1230-1 Matsudo, Matsudo City, Chiba Prefecture
Tel: 047-331-7501

Tokyo Anime Center
Tokyo Anime Center opened in Akihabara in March, 2006. The official shop sells special goods that you can't buy at any other shops and those visiting can see voice actors recording various scenes in the recording studio through a large glass panel.
Akihabara UDX, 4-14-1 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-5297-7470 (Shop)

Pokemon Center(s)
Pokemon Center is the sacred spot for Pokemon buffs in Japan. There are 5 shops in total - in Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka as well as one shop overseas - in New York.
Pokemon Center Tokyo: 3-2-5 Nihombashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo Tel: 03-5200-0707
Pokemon Center Yokohama: Landmark Plaza 4F, 2-2-1 Minatomirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture Tel: 045-222-5533
Pokemon Center Nagoya: Oasis 21, 1-11-1 Higashisakura, Higashi-ku, Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture Tel: 052-950-0758
Pokemon Center Osaka: Umeda Center Bldg. B1F, 2-4-12 Nakazakinishi, Kita-ku, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture Tel: 06-6373-8080
Pokemon Center Fukuoka: Canal City OPA B1F, 1-2-22 Sumiyoshi, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture Tel: 092-282-7733

AnpanmanAnpanman Shop
The Anpanman Shop is chockablock full of Anpanman goods and is a delight to visit.
7 Funamachi Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Tel: 03-3226-8180

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