Should We Consider Anime and Manga Art?



Now, it seems that Murakami’s work is sometimes discussed in comparison with Duchamp, but I don’t think it is a very fair practice to juxtapose these two people who have very different positions as artists in the first place.

In the case of Duchamp in the first place, he dared to raise questions about the art genre to which he belonged by the expression “denying and ridiculing art from the standpoint of the artist”, and there was his self-determination as an artist to abandon his position, Or there must have been a shock that was close to a suicide bombing involving the genre itself.

On the other hand, if Murakami’s work is interpreted in the same position as Duchamp, it will be a scheme of “denying and mocking anime and manga from the standpoint of an artist”, and the shock of “objection” from within will not be established.

And in order to rewrite this context and make it valid as a “protest”, it is necessary for Murakami to enter the side of the expression manga and anime, or conversely, to draw anime and manga into the realm of “art”. If you interpret it this way, the meaning of Murakami’s strategy of marketing anime and manga as “art” will also seem natural. It makes more and more art fans watch anime through sites like nontonanimeid.

Well, when it comes to so-called “contemporary art,” it is only natural that its evaluation and price will rise and fall relative due to information warfare and the manipulation of values. So I think Mr. Murakami, who is doing exactly what he was aiming for, is doing the right thing as an expert in “contemporary art” and is also a very smart person.

However, if I were to ask whether the “value” created as a result of such manipulation is the same as the “value” that should be evaluated in expressions such as manga and anime, I would have to say no. And in the end, that’s probably the reason for the “foreign body feeling” I feel toward Mr. Murakami.

I rather strongly feel the tendency of Murakami’s works to have a sense of color and patterning as seen in Lichtenstein and Warhol. I believe that Mr. Murakami has established his own style by thoroughly researching these and repurposing these methods (including marketing strategies) into his roots of “Japan art” and “otaku expression.”

However, I believe that this is an act that involves “rereading” and “rewriting” in terms of artistic value, and is different in nature from the evaluation of anime and manga as
so-called “raw expressions”.


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As for the expressive “objections” to anime and manga, it can be said that more exciting things have already emerged from within the industry. In addition to overseas anime by Norstein et al., which have a boundary with art in the first place, in Japan, Gainax’s Neon Genesis Evangelion, Production I.G.’s Ryūkyū Kyōden, and a series of works by Shaft are related to their methods,
the success or failure of expression, and the presence or absence of artistry.

There is a lot of debate, and it can be said that it has value as an “objection” in itself. If I had to name one representative writer of this type, it would be director Masaaki Yuasa, who has received high praise for Madhouse’s “Four-and-a-half-tatami Mythological System” and other works.

Conversely, in Sunrise’s Colorful, director Keiichi Hara deliberately eliminated ready-made symbols such as deformity and omission from anime and attempted to approach realism.

I can’t give you a good example of manga because I’m not familiar with it recently, but I feel that magazines for young people such as Afternoon and IKKI have been actively covering highly experimental works for a long time and expanding the range of manga expressions.

And for me, I like the challenge of spontaneity from within the industry (whether you like it or not) more intriguing than the “artistry of manga and anime” that seems to have been given to you from the outside.

Furthermore, is it necessary to include “manga and anime” in the category of “contemporary art”? I have a suspicion that it is.

In fact, in order to sell manga and anime-like expressions overseas, we replaced them with simple symbols such as “kawaii”, “moe” and “cool”, and measured sales pitches that downplayed the subtle differences between works. On the other hand, I have recently felt particularly strongly that the line between “mainstream” and “non-mainstream” may have become easier to draw within the genres of anime and manga in Japan. (It seems that “moe” is a phenomenon specialized in Japan, but this “moe” is the word that was taken up extensively at the Japan of the Biennale
held in Venice in 2004.)

And behind the fact that many production companies are constantly producing works that tend to be regarded as “mainstream”, it has become difficult to produce “fringe” works. On the other hand, the “mainstream” side also seems to be greatly revitalized, with a handful of big winners and the second and subsequent surrounds taking most of their shares, with the similarity of numbers and trends creating a limited competition for the pie. In addition, this tendency also creates a kind of “sense of stagnation” for both creators and fans.

Doesn’t the tendency to lift up easy definitions and authoritarianism and idolization close the possibilities of various themes and expressions possessed by anime and manga in the first place? As a result, isn’t the potential of anime and manga declining?

It may seem obvious, but I think it is important not to rely on “art” that has diverted anime and manga symbolically and fashionably, but to question the work itself to the world and have its value recognized. After all, it is unlikely that if it spreads around the world in a way that is different from the original, it will be beneficial in the long run.