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Media Art Festival

Media Art festival is an annual event I visit every year. A few years ago it was moved from Ebisu Metropolitan Museum of Photography to the National Art Center in Roppongi.

I went there on the last day of exhibition so it was a bit crowded,  I even had to line up to enter but in the end I could see everything, even live performances and some of the screenings. The animation and manga works were really impressive this year. I was very moved by the topics the artists chose to explore. ^-^

The first one that caught my eye did so for the wrong reason but nonetheless I found myself drawn to the “Himitsu the top secret” – a manga by Reiko Shimizu. It is an extremely typical manga in its genre but I liked the artwork – esthetically beautiful and very retro. The main character is a senior crime investigator who looks like a 14 year old girl and dresses like an 80s pop star. The absurdity of it was kinda endearing. ^-^

Another one “Magemon” by Masahara Koichi was a collection of short stories which took place in old Edo working class “shitamachi” area. I loved the exquisite details with which the houses and streets of old capital were drawn. In contrast, the characters of the manga were often simplified and even distorted. The stories followed lives and relationships between children and their parents, husbands and wifes, friends. The artwork is really impressive, especially the shadowing techniques.

Then, there were two foreign works that I really liked as well.

One was called  “Fun Home -A Family Tragicomic-“by an American artist Alison Bechdel. The manga is an autobiographical novel told from the perspective of an eldest daughter of a family who ran a funeral home in a remote rural area. It tells the story of a father and daughter who were both homosexual, who both loved literature, and who continued to be at cross purposes, even though they felt sympathy for one another. The manga is depicting how the weak threads linking those two characters were strained, while quoting from a vast range of literary works.

The other one was called “Arrugas / el Faro” by a Spanish artist Paco Roca that followed the story of a former bank employee who is put in a nursing home by his son and daughter-in-law. While living out their twilight years, many of the residents face the cruel reality of “Alzheimer’s,” gradually losing their memories. Manga is a perfect medium for telling such story because it can show each of the characters at the age they remember themselves in or blank out scenery and faces as the character’s dementia progresses. This work was also made into an animation and I particularly liked one scene where a beautiful woman is riding an orient express, smoking her sigarette and looking out the window. Only, in reality it was an old lady in a wheelchair sitting in front of the window in her nursing house room.. She was stuck in her past where she was young and beautiful and her whole life was ahead of her.. This manga is brilliantly explaining one’s acceptance of destiny and then the eventual reality of aging peacefully.

Then, the animation division really surprised me with this amazingly beautiful work “Rain town” by Ishida Hiroyasu.

Some time ago, the rain began to fall constantly, and the citizens left rain town for the suburbs and higher ground. One day, a young girl strays deep into rain town which has been completely abandoned and fallen into ruins. There, she meets a lonely robot, who remembers the town as it used to be. This dark but beautiful world was created with such amazing detail. Even without the tranquil music and the sound of rain I could feel loneliness and nostalgia in every frame. The colors and scenery are absolutely stunning!

After the exhibition I bought a MAF pamphlet at a gift shop (they used to be free *sign*) and also found a really cute retro gift wrapping paper. ^-^ I am a sucker for things like that. Back when I was little, my dad taught me the art of giving presents. Even if you have no money and your present is crappy, if you create a nice story behind it and then wrap it beautifully, anyone will love it. The theory proved to be right many times. One time, I bought a Marc by Marc Jacobs wallet for a friend on her birthday at a discount store. It came with no box, no bag, no wrapping paper. She never used it… But when a couple of years later I gave her a 10$ keyholder all wrapped and ribboned up, she loved it. She is still using it every time I see her. ^-^

The twilight hours, when the sky is getting darker but it is not just yet an evening is my favorite time of the day. The lights are being switched on, the sound of the city is changing and the street seller of sweet potato starts his journey around neighborhoods with the same song on the loop that doesn’t change for generations. Somewhere around Omotesando I caught him and bought a really delicious sweet potato – probably the best one I have ever tasted.

In Omotesando, right next to Moncler store I also discovered a vending machine that sold “miso” soup and “shiruko” – little rice cakes in a sweat bean soup. ^-^

Then, on my way home I spotted Shelly’s poster on the street noticeboard. She was advertising spring fire drill activities?? Very cute picture!

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. The Japanese arts and film festival is always an event to look forward to!

    March 25, 2012
  2. thanks for sharing …. i Loved the videos and Rain Town is simply awesome …

    March 26, 2012
  3. It makes me really hungry. 😀

    June 4, 2012

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