Well, not exactly. To be more accurate, the British Royal Academy is hosting an exhibition of the works of 19th century Japanese artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), whose work is seen as being the origin of modern manga. Running alongside the exhibition Curzon Cinemas is going to be showing a selection of anime movies.

Even is his name doesn’t instantly ring a bell, you’re almost certainly familiar with some Kuniyoshi’s work, it being in many ways part of the classic image of how Japan is depicted in the west. The runs from 21 March —7 Jun 2009 at the Sackler Wing of the academy’s galleries in central London, and looks like an unmissable event if you have any level of interest in Japanese art and culture.


From the Academy’s website:

Kuniyoshi was a major master of the ‘floating world’, or Ukiyo-e school of Japanese art, and, together with Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) and Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1864), dominated nineteenth century printmaking in Japan. Prolific and multitalented, Kuniyoshi considerably expanded the existing repertoire of the school, particularly with thousands of designs that brought vividly to life famous military exploits in Japan and China. Kuniyoshi developed an extraordinarily powerful and imaginative style in his prints, often spreading a scene dynamically across all three sheets of the traditional triptych format and linking the composition with one bold unifying element – a major artistic innovation.


The movies being shown are a pretty good selection too; from the rather tepid Origin: Spirit of the Past to Oshii’s intense but flawed Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, and the more recent and pretty excellent Sword of the Stranger. Of special interest though is the UK premiere of Fumihiko Sori‘s (Vexille, Ping Pong) live action film Ichi – a Zatoichi style samurai era tale about a blind assassin. Circumstances permitting, I should make it down for this one. More dates, details and booking information here.