Osamu Tezuka has been a big influence on me since I was a small child. I enjoyed his animated shows that played in re-runs on Australian TV in the 1970s, namely Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. Years later, I found out that both these shows were based on comic books that Tezuka himself had drawn, and were merely a fraction of the many properties that he had created. Tezuka is sometimes referred to as the “Walt Disney of Japan” which is a comparison that Tezuka himself would have been flattered by, as he was a big fan of Walt Disney. But Disney’s (unmistakeably huge) influence is mainly that of a visionary businessman; his artistic output of drawings over the course of his career is minuscule at best, whereas Tezuka’s creative output in BOTH comics and animation, was staggering.
The Asian Art Museum here in San Francisco is showing an exhibit of Osamu Tezuka’s original comics artwork entitled MARVEL OF MANGA, which runs until September 9th. This exhibit was created by Australia’s National Gallery of Victoria, in co-operation with Tezuka Productions in Japan. The original show ran in Melbourne from November 2006 through January this year, when it moved to The Art Gallery Of NSW in Sydney for February and April. In June the exhibit came to San Francisco, for what will be its only U.S. appearance.
If you have any interest at all in Manga or Anime, I strongly recommend that you see this show. Even though the art style may seem dated and quaint to some people, it is worth remembering that many (if not all) modern Manga and Anime artists stand on the mighty shoulders of Osamu Tezuka. For me, it was marvelous to see his original artwork with my own eyes… I had never seen any of his original art before and there certainly is a lot of it on display. Plus, the sheer scope of all he did, taken in all at once, is pretty astonishing.
I was happy to see that as well as his comic artwork, there were some screenings of Tezuka’s animation, including his experimental films such as “Broken Down Film” and “Jumping” Which are both very much worth a look-see.
The exhibit started on June 2nd and runs until September 9th so if you have plans to be in SF during that period then don’t miss the show. Be sure to check on the schedule of lectures ahead of time so that you don’t miss out on any goodness. Also, take a look at the exhibition program/catalog, which is a beautiful hardcover book, including essays about Tezuka compiled by the curator of the exhibit, Philip Brophy. I regretted not buying this book as soon as I left the museum (I will pick up a copy on my NEXT visit).