In between when I posted this blog entry while still in Japan on July 2nd and the end of my trip, I actually had occasion to go back and visit this installation one more time. I took a bunch more pictures, and learned a few more things. So in the spirit of… completeness… I’d like to re-post this entry with all of the new photos and information, as well as a gallery of photos of the Astro Boy blueprints I picked up. Hopefully you Tezuka fiends won’t mind it too much…! – Chris
One of my regrets last time I went to Japan was missing out on the Osamu Tezuka installation at Kyoto Station. Despite the fact there was advertising for it everywhere, including those super-keen Astro Boy and Kimba The White Lion statues/pointers, I couldn’t find it when I was there. This time though, I actually asked someone at the tourism office, and they told me exactly where it is. And so I went there, and took awesome pictures for all of you…!
So Kyoto Station in and of itself is a marvel. It’s a beautiful, high-tech reimagining of a temple-style building with a curved roof and open sides to let air flow through, but all done up in glass and steel. If you get a chance to visit, I do recommend it.
The exterior of Kyoto Station features all kinds of great signage that tells you about events going on there, and especially about the Tezuka installation. Here you can see the various signage, all pointing viewers in the right direction. Long-time readers will remember that I did not ACTUALLY see the little arrows on all of these signs, pointing me in the direction of the space, because I’m a dork. I seriously just thought it was a stylized design element… Ah well. Found it this time!
The Kyoto Station / Tezuka installation was, I believe, completed for an anniversary of Tezuka/Atom, and to commemorate the reopening of the station. It’s also located on the other side of the Kyoto Hotel Granvia, on the outside of the station, which explains why maybe I had a bit of trouble finding it last time. Here we see the entryway sign… which is also promoting a live stage-show of Beauty and the Beast, also happening in the same general area. Needless to say I didn’t stop in.
The main entrance is nice, with lenticular animations of Astro Boy (Atom!), Kimba, Black Jack, and another character I don’t know the name of. I still really love the little “fins” on the first ‘o’ in KYOTO, in the shape of Astro Boy’s hair. That’s just genius. Actually, since I’m a big fan of Big pictures on the blog, here’s a close-up of then Astro Boy lenticular. Unfortunately you won’t quite get exactly the same effect.
I think the thing that most impresses me about this whole thing is that with something like Disney, or Marvel, or DC, or whomever, it’s very much ABOUT THE CHARACTER. The creator (except maybe Walt Disney, and that’s a whole other kettle of fish) is pushed far to the background. This installation is “Tezuka World”, and Tezuka the creator is at the forefront of the work. I think that’s pretty incredible, and something for all of us in the comics industry to aspire to.
So the installation is, honestly, mostly a gift-shop and retail oriented, with a few cool additions.
More pics and info under the cut! Click:
There are quite a few statues of Tezuka’s characters scattered about, fun to photograph or take a picture with. As you can see, the film adaptation of Tezuka’s nutso graphic novel MW (translated into a lovely English edition by Vertical) is opening this weekend in Japan, and this isn’t the first installation I’ve seen dedicated to the film. Unfortunately to put up the big cardboard standee, they had to cover a kick-ass mural of all of Tezuka’s characters.
There’s also a theatre set up, showing two different Tezuka cartoons exclusive to this installation! The one I saw was from the most recent Astro Boy series a few years back, and it was very kiddy. I mean, it was alright, but let’s just say it was pretty easy to follow despite the fact that the characters never stopped talking—in Japanese. I’ll be honest though, sitting, in the middle of the day, in a theatre, alone, watching children’s cartoons? I had serious doubts about the direction that my life had taken. I decided to rationalize the whole thing away as “free air conditioning” with it being 90 degrees and humid outside. But.
If you buy a ticket to the theatre (only 200 yen! What a steal!) you get access to this cute little reading area, set up by the Kyoto International Manga Museum. Shown is one copy of every single manga that Tezuka produced in his lifetime. That’s a lot of work there…
Honestly, none of this was a patch on the totally kick-ass Tezuka Manga Museum in Takarazuka, outside of Osaka. I still consider that the high-point of my last trip to Japan. But considering it’s only about 40 minutes from Kyoto station (and free if you have a JR pass…!) why not do both? :)
Here’s a little bit more on the MW movie from the display, including a close-up of some hi-res reproductions of original pages from MW.
Those are illustrations, output onto canvas and framed, featuring Tezuka’s most popular series. Not quite the same thing as seeing original art, but it’s still quite nice. It’s also a reminder how little colour-art we see from Japanese mangaka in general. I think the prevailing opinion is that the colour work is either outdated, or simply inappropriate for the North American market. I get that, particularly when you look at the difference in sell-through between Vertical’s relatively successful Tezuka releases with cutting-edge book design, and Viz and Dark Horse’s more traditional releases, featuring colour painted covers. Seeing original Tezuka colour work up close, you can tell there’s a ton of craft there, but it might just be the wrong “style”. I’ll talk about this more later maybe? Anyway, what you’re really here for is PICTURES OF CHARACTER GOODS! HERE WE GO:
That’s right! ASTRO BOY BLUEPRINTS! Translucent and printed on Vellum! Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.
So after taking this photo, just knowing these things were out there… waiting to be purchased… it haunted me. HAUNTED ME. So I went back and bought a set of Astro Boy blueprints. Actually, I bought like 6 or 7 sets, and we’re going to be selling them at The Beguiling eventually. But for now, I’ve taken a few close-up photos of them for you. Enjoy!
So now I hope you can see why I had to buy it. This is the whole thing. We can see it’s a 1:2 scale blueprint for ATOM, and that he’s 1.35 metres tall, and the side panels show the usage of his powers taken from comic book panels. As I mentioned this is two layers on velum, with the top being his exterior casing and the bottom being his guts. More closeups!
And here’s a view with the guts-layer on top and the casing level underneath. Soooo cool.
Oh, and clockwise from top left, we’ve got: GOD OF COMICS, the first English language biography of Tezuka (haven’t read it yet); a Japanese-language exhibition book I picked up that detailed the first exhibit I saw in the Tezuka museum in 2007, which is just dozens of photographed reproductions of original Tezuka pages, warts-and-all; Ode To Kirihito, Tezuka’s mature manga pub’d by Vertical Inc.; a Japanese-language newstand manga anthology that’s just reprints of Tezuka stories (Seriously, 3 bucks, 400 pages, different chapters of Tezuka stuff, bought off a newstand I believe.)
(You can click most of these for larger versions.)
The blueprints measure about 2 feet by 3 feet or so. I’ll post at the blog when they become available for sale.
This Pluto and Atom statue set was only 200 bucks! And in the upper-left corner you can see the price-tag for the complete mini-reprinting of Tezuka’s entire library (seriously, every book is there and it comes with a magnifying class). It’s only $750 or so. I would, quite sincerely, like to buy this some day.
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this in my Japan posts, but usually when you’re doing business with shopkeepers, you don’t actually hand money over for your purchases. That would involve touching and germs and general squeamishness. Instead you put your money on a little tray, and then the shopkeep takes the tray and takes your money off of it, and puts your change in the tray and then puts the tray back down in front of you. I know, I know, but it actually works surprisingly well, and hey, no germs! Here we see examples of 4 different Astro Boy change trays. I… I bought one. I have yet to start using it at work. :)
Before I go, I wanted to share this. Mos Burger, one of Japan’s greatest hamburger chains (seriously awesome stuff) and Mister Donut have teamed up to create MODSDO, which is utterly insane and wonderful. Above, clockwise from top, is the MOSDO ‘burger’, the MOSDO “potedo” (do is for donuts), a mango pudding, and a mix donut for people that don’t like to choose.
The two burgers featured mini-donuts sliced in half, a sort of choclate crackle “burger” patty, and then either raspberry sauce (instead of ketchup) and raspberry mousse (instead of mayo) or green tea flavoured… something. It was surprisingly delicious, and honestly not that sweet.
Maybe I just like puns too much, but the “potado” killed me. It’s unsweetened donut batter, extruded to look like French fries and then deep fried. And served with ketchup. Also, surprisingly pretty good! B- for flavour, A for texture.
We have been eating so much great, tasty, and weird stuff on this trip. But this was… pretty special. :-D
So as we were leaving the train station the second time, we spotted this. I just wanted to take a few minutes to balance out the tide of Japanese schoolgirl/sailor suit outfits that permeate the internet with this, pictures of actual Japanese sailors congregating in the station. They were cute and fit and dressed like sailors.
They even ride the elevator together, lovely. :)
Alright, updated blog is updated! Thanks for reading, or reading again!