The world of Manga

Last week I visited ‘The World of Manga’, a exhibition about - you’ll guess - Manga at the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam. Here you’ll be confronted with the terrifying guards of Buddhist philosophy, bonded with the fierce and powerful heroes of Street Fighter. 

The manifold of manga art is shown in this exhibition. The Japanese Buddhist guards introduce the philosophy of manga in comics, anime and games. With different subjects such as the shinto gods , the role of the heavenly dog Tengu, shoujo ‘girl’ manga, and even Japanese tattoos, the makers of the exhibition show the versatility of manga.

An introduction on the exhibition is given by a short film about the history of manga. Hokusai is mentioned as the first ‘manga-like' artist and some of his works are shown. However, how manga developes between Hokusai and modern manga is not or hardly shown, which is a pitty since I was expecting more real insight and history of manga, after all I was in a museum, not a artgallery. Almost an entire floor is dedicated to just two projects: a photoproject and a film!

The photo’s by Anderson & Low are supposed to raise questions: 'are these manga inspired dreams of people, or people inspired dreams of manga?' Their project Manga Dreams constitutes a major part of the exhibition. 

The other room is dedicated to the artwork of the internationally acclaimed anime Wolf Children Ame and Yuki from director Mamoru Hosoda. For me entire rooms dedicated to one film and one photoproject was too much. I had rather seen more of the beautiful works  of Fuzichoco, Shinkichi Tajiri, Akatsuki Katoh, Shiho ENTA (artist that made the picture on the right), Ching Nakamura and many others.   

The Wereldmuseum states that the mysticism of manga can be grasped. Is that so? Well yes, the first floor shows manga in its manifold with beautiful, dreamy works, combined with historical prints and artfacts. To me and my partner that was the best part of the show. The two boys I dragged along were really impressed with everything they saw, and the lady of almost 80 years that also joined the party indeed lost herself in the mysticism of manga and Buddhist philosophy.