Saturday, May 2, 2009

A trip to Krazy Tokyo

The intersection of 47th Street and First Avenue in New York doesn’t look much like the modern megalopolis of Tokyo, but across from the United Nations, inside the beautiful home of the Japan Society is a window into the pop frenzy of Tokyo culture.

Until June 14, KRAZY! The Delirious World of Anime + Manga + Video Games, an exhibition originally organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery, will be installed at the Japan Society.While not as extensive as Vancouver’s original exhibition, at the New York show you’ll find a striking architectural space filled with examples of the artistry of contemporary Japan as expressed through anime culture.

The exhibits, which include art, films, objects, toys, interactive games and comic libraries are accessible to the pop culture uninitiated, but are presented in such a way to hold the interest of J-pop enthusiasts. Don’t miss the artistry of Hisashi Eguchi and Yuichi Yokoyama, nor Ichiro Itano’s iconic mecha designs. Audio clips of Yoko Kanno’s brilliant jazz and blues inspired soundtrack for the quintessential space anime Cowboy Bebop show the extent to which Japanese anime culture has become both a globally influencing and influenced vein.

In addition to the installed art, film screenings are scheduled throughout the exhibition. Of the films on tap, I recommend taking in the movie that introduced anime to many Americans, Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira; Masaaki Yuasa's jaw-dropping, abstract absurdity Mind Game; Satoshi Kon’s, haunting, mental maze Paprika; and The Place Promised in Our Early Days, the gorgeous feature-length debut of up-and-coming digital animation virtuoso Makoto Shinkai.

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