‘This is Manga – the Art of URASAWA NAOKI’

This summer Japan House London will present a two-month exhibition on the popular Japanese art form, manga, through the work of internationally acclaimed manga artist, URASAWA Naoki.


YAWARA © 1987 Naoki URASAWA Studio Nuts

Hugely popular in Japan where they make up over 20% of all publications sold, manga refer to what are commonly known as comics in the UK. Not just for children, manga feature unique characters, complex storylines and cover a broad range of genres. The ‘This is Manga – the Art of URASAWA NAOKI’ exhibition at Japan House will provide an immersive encounter with this popular art form through focusing on the work of much-loved artist Urasawa Naoki.


YAWARA © 1987 Naoki URASAWA Studio Nuts

Since his professional debut in 1983, Urasawa has engaged readers with dynamic storytelling and sophisticated characters that explore the hopes, dreams, and underlying fears of humanity. With hit titles spanning the genres of sports, comedy, mystery, and science fiction, his drawing style is famous for innovative compositional techniques and bold black and white panels.

Urasawa’s international breakthrough came in the mid-1990s with the release of the mystery ‘MONSTER’, about a Japanese surgeon living in Germany. Since then sales of his works have reached over 127 million books in Japan alone, with titles published in more than 20 countries.

At the heart of this success is his passion for manga and resolve as an artist. In an industry that has become increasingly global, Urasawa continues to retain his unique style, personal devotion to his craft, and the integrity of his ideals to reflect an uncompromising view of the human condition. He skillfully weaves social context and detailed cultural settings into his stories to help illustrate how overarching social and historical forces influence the actions of his characters.

This retrospective exhibition will introduce Urasawa’s ideas from inception through development, with more than 400 original drawings and storyboards on display. Selected stories from seven of his major works will be presented, highlighting the breadth of the artist’s narrative styles. A reading corner will be set up in the exhibition space with full English translations of his bestselling stories including ‘YAWARA!’, ‘MONSTER’, ‘20th Century Boys’, ‘MASTER KEATON ReMASTER’ (Story by Takashi Nagasaki) , ‘PLUTO’ (Story by Osamu Tezuka, co-authored by Takashi Nagasaki, Supervised by Macoto Tezka, with the cooperation of Tezuka Productions), ‘BILLY BAT’ (Story Co-creator : Takashi Nagasaki), and ‘MUJIRUSHI’ (‘The Sign of Dreams’, with the cooperation of Fujio Productions).

Through changing displays four consecutive stories from YAWARA! will be presented over the course of the exhibition, one story every two weeks, encouraging visitors to return again and again to experience the work in the weekly serial style of many Japanese comic anthologies. This rare opportunity to enjoy Urasawa’s manga directly from his original hand-drawn storyboards offers a unique glimpse into the artist’s process and psyche.

The exhibition will introduce those new to manga to the iconic Japanese art form, exploring the fusion of story and artwork that originally evolved from picture book styles developed in the late 19th century, and the modern influences behind Urasawa’s work. Japan House will give a comprehensive look into the art of Urasawa Naoki, providing an invaluable opportunity to gain insight into the worldview and unmatched brilliance of an artist beloved across the globe.


MONSTER © 1995 URASAWA Naoki Studio Nuts

‘This is Manga – the Art of URASAWA NAOKI’ will be open to the public at Japan House London from 5 June to 28 July 2019. Admission FREE. japanhouselondon.uk


MONSTER © 1995 URASAWA Naoki Studio-Nuts

About The Artist URASAWA Naoki Manga Artist (Mangaka)
Born in Tokyo in 1960, Urasawa made his debut with ‘BETA!!’ in 1983, and has authored many works since, such as ‘YAWARA!’, ‘MONSTER’, ‘20th Century Boys’ and ‘BILLY BAT’ (story co-creator: NAGASAKI Takashi) among others. After garnering renewed popularity more recently with ‘MUJIRUSHI’ (‘The Sign of Dreams’, with the cooperation of Fujio Productions), a collaborative project with the Louvre Museum, Urasawa is currently writing a new series, ASADORA! in Big Comic Spirits, a weekly Japanese manga magazine published by Shogakukan. His work is now published in more than 20 countries, with Japanese circulation alone recorded at a total of 127 million copies. Domestically, he has received the Shogakukan Manga Award three times and the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize, as well as numerous awards abroad including the Angouleme International Cartoon Festival Intergenerational Award and multiple Eisner Awards for Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia category. In addition, as a musician, he has composed numerous works in the folk rock genre, performing live with his band and releasing two albums to date. His music has been frequently used as theme music for the film and television adaptations of his manga work.

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine, ' A curation of the world’s most interesting culture' [PLUS] Art of Conversation: A tri-annual 'no news paper' AofC - Issue 1 Autumn 2018