© 2000 Naoki URASAWA/Studio Nuts
“20th Century Boys” was originally published by SHOGAKUKAN
JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles is pleased to present the work of manga artist, Naoki Urasawa. The exhibition, ‘This is MANGA – the Art of NAOKI URASAWA’ marks the first North American exhibition for the internationally acclaimed Japanese artist. Urasawa is considered a modern master, combining dynamic storytelling and transcendent artistic skill in his development of rich and sophisticated characters. His stories touch upon the hopes, dreams, and at times underlying fears of humanity.
Since his professional debut in 1983, Urasawa has continually pushed the limits of the manga medium, engaging readers with innovative compositional techniques and a versatile drawing prowess, as he creates highly engrossing works that are both introspective and philosophical. With titles that span the genres of sports, comedy, mystery, and science fiction, integrating aspects of humor, humanism, with touches of irony and underlying cynicism, his stories have been hugely successful in Japan. The release of the mystery series MONSTER garnered Urasawa international notoriety in the mid-1990s, introducing his work to the rest of the world. His sales have since reached over 127 million books in Japan alone, and his titles are currently sold in more than 20 countries. At the heart of this success has been his passion for manga and resolve as an artist. In an industry which has become increasingly global, Urasawa continues to retain his unique style, personal devotion to his craft, and integrity of his ideals reflecting an uncompromising view of the human condition.
Another core quality of Urasawa’s work is the skill with which he weaves social context and detailed cultural settings into his narratives. Many of his stories connect personal dramas to a specific moment in human history, and illustrate how overarching social and historical forces influence the actions of his characters. In PLUTO (Story by Osamu Tezuka, co-authored by Takashi Nagasaki, supervised by Macoto Tezka, with the cooperation of Tezuka Productions), for example, a complex international relationship, resonating with the reality in the Middle East, underlies a battle among the world’s most powerful robots. In BILLY BAT (Story co-creator: Takashi Nagasaki) an ancient scroll has continually exploited humankind’s faults, controlling individuals without their knowledge, thereby influencing the course of history. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Diaz reflected that one of the attractions of Urasawa’s work is the way it gets to the heart of society and confronts the problems that most people would rather ignore.
This retrospective exhibition will introduce Urasawa’s ideas from inception through development, with an extraordinary presentation of more than 400 original drawings and storyboards, called ne-mu in Japan (from the English “name”). Selected stories from seven of his major works will be presented, highlighting the breadth of the artist’s narrative styles, including: YAWARA!, MONSTER, 20th Century Boys, PLUTO, BILLY BAT, MASTER KEATON ReMASTER (Story by Takashi Nagasaki), and MUJIRUSHI (The Sign of Dreams, with the cooperation of Fujio Productions). Four consecutive stories from YAWARA! will be presented over the course of the exhibition, one story every two weeks, encouraging visitors to return multiple times to experience the work in the weekly serial style of many Japanese comic anthologies.
This rare opportunity to enjoy Urasawa’s manga directly from his original hand drawn ne-mu offers a unique glimpse into the artist’s process and psyche. The strength of Urasawa’s storytelling is equally matched by his artwork and character design. Each of his worlds hosts a wide roster of distinct, fully-rendered personas. His instantly recognizable faces come to life on the page with extensive depth and range of expressions. In addition, visitors will be able to sit down with full, published English translations of his stories in a special reading area prepared for this exhibition.
The exhibition will also introduce those new to manga to the Japanese comic style. Manga as an art form, which is a fusion of story and artwork, evolved from picture book styles developed in the late 19th century. The modern form of manga was pioneered and furthered by a collection of artists in the period just after WWII. One of those pioneering artists was Osamu Tezuka. Often referred to as the “god of manga” in his home country, Tezuka introduced modern narrative techniques, complex characters and themes, and visual effects influenced by cinema. Urasawa has been deeply influenced by the work of Tezuka as evidenced by the cinematic sense of framing, kinetic pace and rhythm found within his work.
This exhibition is a comprehensive look into the art of Naoki Urasawa from multiple perspectives, while standing as an invaluable opportunity for the public to gain insight into the brilliance and incredible worldview of an artist attracting readers around the globe.
About Naoki Urasawa
Manga Artist (Mangaka)
Born in Tokyo in 1960, Urasawa made his debut with BETA!! in 1983, and has authored many works since, such as YAWARA!, MONSTER, 20th Century Boys, and BILLY BAT (Story co-creator: Takashi Nagasaki) among others. After garnering renewed popularity more recently with MUJIRUSHI (The Sign of Dreams, with the cooperation of Fujio Productions), a collaborative project with the Louvre Museum, Urasawa is currently writing a new series, ASADORA! in the weekly Big Comic Spirits (published by Shogakukan). His work is now published in more than 20 countries, with Japanese circulation alone recorded at a total of 127 million copies. Domestically, he has received the Shogakukan Manga Award three times and the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, as well as numerous awards abroad including the Angouleme International Cartoon Festival Intergenerational Award and multiple Eisner Awards for Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia category. In addition, as a musician, he has composed numerous works in the folk rock genre, performing live with his band and releasing two albums to date. His music has been frequently used as theme music for the film and television adaptations of his manga work.
Presented and Organized by: JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Sponsored by: Shimizu Octo
In cooperation with: N WOOD STUDIO / SHOGAKUKAN / KODANSHA / POMATO PRO. / Yamato Global Logistics Japan / ANA / Bay Bridge Studio / AGASUS / VIZ Media
Special assistance provided by: Takashi Nagasaki / Kazuya Kudo / Hokusei Katsushika / Tezuka Productions Co. / Fujio Productions
Art Direction by: Kaitaro Kiuchi (POMATO PRO.)
Curatorial support provided by: Stéphane Beaujean (Art Director of the Angoulême International Comics Festival)
Naoki Urasawa Artist Talk & Book Signing
Date: January 23, 2019
Time: 7:15 PM – 8:45 PM
Venue: JAPAN HOUSE Salon, Level 5