When Akira was released upon an unsuspecting world in 1988, people were blown away by the animes detailed depiction of a sprawling dystopian megacity. A few years later Ghost in the Shell hit cinemas and again moviegoers were floored by the detailed vision of the near future. Both films have been cited as inspirations behind many major Hollywood films such as The Matrix and Ex Machina and been influential in other media.
A major new exhibition at the House of Illustration, Kings Cross, London is now showcasing the backdrops to these and some other classic anime. It is a dying art as most anime are now computer generated but back at the time of these productions most were hand drawn.
Over the course of 3 rooms you are given the opportunity to see pencil drawings, water colour paintings and other types of medium to understand the artistry involved when tasked with creating impressive but also believable cityscapes.
The anime films covered include Rintaro's Metropolis and Oshii's Patlabor, Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. What is astonishing is seeing how different artists and directors had such differing views of the future, some of the artwork seems almost eerily precient.
Seeing the research photographs of Japan and China, the original pencil sketches and then the final painted backgrounds is interesting as you can see the process from beginnning to end.
I've seen all the anime and read most of the original manga that the films are based on but whether or not you have seen them doesn't matter. The artistry and futurist imagination is what is on show here and this exhibition places that left, right and centre! This is a must see exhibition for anime, manga, film and sci-fi fans alike.