Random Wafflage: Educational Edition

Posted by DiGiKerot in Random Stuff at June 23, 2019 on 4:30 pm

Well, whoops, I guess I’ve not posted for a while, so let’s just ramble for a bit.

If you’ve been into London recently, it’s probably hard to miss the fact that the British Museum are running a Manga exhibit through to the back-end of August, largely because of the large posters of Asirpa from Golden Kamuy that are plastered all over the public transport network there. It’s a wee bit of an excursion from my neck of the woods, but I ended up popping along for a look yesterday.

To a degree, it’s pretty much what I expect it to be, in that I’m probably not really the target audience for it, though on the other hand, I was pretty much there more to see how the were presenting things, out of pure academic curiosity, rather than for the actual content.

It’s certainly well presented, and there is a definite thrill to seeing manuscript versions of some of the most iconic scenes in modern manga, but whilst the exhibition covers most of the points you’d probably expect – things like Tezuka’s New Treasure Island and Akatsuka Fujio’s gag comics, through to Dragonball and Detective Conan, it does present something of a frustration in terms of content even as a starter-for-ten for those new to manga as a medium.

It’s the somewhat inevitable problem of the fact, generally speaking, even taking more illicit means into account, English-language manga availability is generally a little on the atrocious side, taken against the whole history and breadth of the medium, particularly when we start talking about pre-90s material, and even more so the further we go back. With many of the mediums pivotal works generally unavailable in English, it does present someone putting together this kind of exhibition the conundrum of whether they present a bunch of stuff that attendees have little access to outside of the context of the event or not.

The exhibition ends up cutting a bit of a weird middle-ground in that a lot of the exhibition space ends up being taken up by displays of contemporary titles that present some kind of cultural movement or significance. A lot of this stuff is actually available in English, or at least has been (there’s a few titles presented throughout part of the exhibition which are excruciatingly out of print), but it’s also a lot of the stuff that anyone who reads a moderate amount of manga will likely at least be familiar with – I’d read a good 80% of it already, and I don’t generally consider myself that voracious a consumer.

Conversely, the segments on more historical titles ends up feeling a little slight, skimming over several major movements, whilst still feeling like something of a taunt – the focus on Shigeru Mizuki’s contribution to the medium focuses specifically on Hakaba Kitaro, the incarnation of his Kitaro character that isn’t typically mined for the English releases, and that even the Japanese digital stores block the international purchases for (I know, I’ve tried to get a hold of it legally before).

Perhaps the weirdest one is the breakout area for Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure, excruciatingly out of print in English despite having actually been published by the British Museum Press.

All of which probably sounds like I’m being excessively negative, but the nature of medium being presented, and the fact that most things on display are being presented alongside explanations as to why the full work is significant, it’s frustrating not to come away from the event with at least something added to the reading list that I can, you know, actually read, and those who know Japanese will probably find the level of the content below them. From my own point of view, I guess if they were going to put a bunch of Japanese-only titles in there, I’d have preferred them to go a bit weirder with the selections (and maybe drop the inflatable Titan head or the Ghibli stuff that appeared oddly devoid of a significant Nausicaa manga presence for something more substantial).

I will say that the companying companion book, whilst an eye-watering £30 (which, admittedly, is cheaper than some exhibition books I’ve seen before – plus it’s only £20 on Amazon), is pretty good.

In other London-related news, I did take the opportunity to pop around Coco Ichibanya whilst I was in the area. Not exactly all that exciting, but it was pretty much the first branch of any of the Japanese chain curry places to open in the UK when it opened a few months back. Unfortunately, it’s also just off Leicester Square, which means it’s both incredibly busy and kind of pricey – it probably barely seats 26 people, so if you aren’t on your lonesome, you are probably going to be in for a bit of a wait. Still, if you are absolutely desperate for Japanese curry, it’s not like there’s a barrage of choices, and I gather there are a few UK-exclusive offerings on the menu (though, alas, none appearing to involve battered fish).

Anyway, it’s AX in just over a weeks time. I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to be doing there yet – guess I’ve got tickets for both of the aqours shows and the unaffiliated Otaquest thing going on during the pre-show night, though that does end up ruling out a few of the other high-profile events. I appreciate the concept of counter-programming – that you pretty much have to put events with potentially significant attendance against each-other since you can’t exactly have 40,000 people trying to turn up to squeeze into a Sound Euphonium movie or what-have-you, and it’s better to leave people disappointed in advance as opposed to angry when they don’t get into something, but most of the major events do appear to have been crammed into the same the same couple of windows on the Friday and Saturday. Guess I should probably go through the schedule and figure out what I can make, though I am a little sore that I’m going to miss both Promare (hoping it’s screen at Otakon as well given the guest list there) and the new Euphonium movie, but those are the breaks, I guess.

I do hope that ihop are still doing that stupid burger with a pancake in the middle in a fortnights time, though. Sounds like good breakfasting.

I guess I should endeavour to get around to this seasons Mikan Watch posts before the next season hits, huh.

And let’s not talk about the Eva thing. I do not have the energy.

Leave a Comment