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Manga Jiman 2009 Exhibition

15 February - 31 March 2010
The Embassy of Japan

101-104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT
Open weekdays 09:30 - 17:30, closed weekends
Admission is free, but photo ID is necessary to gain entry to the Embassy.


Manga Jiman 2009 Mascot: Sorano-chan

To the surprise of some in Japan, manga have become wildly popular in many other countries worldwide, including Great Britain.

Historically, with such a huge home market of their own, Japanese publishers and authors rarely set out to export their comics. But this changed due to the success of their animated cartoon versions, pioneered by Osamu Tezuka��s Astro Boy in 1963. With anime as their ambassador, manga have been building a keen fan following here for over twenty years.

As well as conventions, cosplay balls and anime screenings, many otaku in the UK also want to make their own comics and a thriving small-press community has sprung up, online and in print.

In Japan, talent searches are a successful way to discover and motivate aspiring artists and the same is true of The Embassy of Japan��s Manga Jiman (Manga Pride) competition. Now in its third year, it offers not only splendid prizes but also a great opportunity to get noticed by publishers. Proof of the high standard of the finalists and winners is found in the number of entrants who have been published subsequently, for example in the three Mammoth Best New Manga volumes, in SelfMadeHero��s Manga Shakespeare adaptations and elsewhere. Each year, the quantity and the quality of entries increases and the extension of the starting age to 14 has encouraged more young people to pick up their pens and enter.

What my fellow judges and I are looking out for is potential, originality and content, rather than only imitations of standardised styles. We want to find more individual, inventive interpretations which show a deeper understanding of what comics can do, wherever they come from.

It is a privilege to see young British manga talents emerging through this contest, and to witness how this most ancient and primal of media - telling stories in pictures, sometimes also in words - is going through a 21st century renaissance.

Paul Gravett






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