Girl’s manga magazines Margaret and Bessatsu Margaret (Bestuma) magazines celebrated their 50th anniversary this year with the Watashi no Margaret: (My Margaret) exhibition at the Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills. Our intrepid team of Okazu reporters took in the exhibit on a fine Thursday afternoon in October.
Margaret has some strong ties to our community. It was – and is again – the home of Riyoko Ikeda’s works, including Oniisama E/Dear Brother and Berusaiyu no Bara/Rose of Versailles manga series. (It also was the home for the Maria-sama ga Miteru manga and early Yuri classic, Futtemo Harettemo.) In addition, fans of sports manga will remember that the first girl’s sport manga, Attack No. 1 and the popular tennis manga, Ace o Nerae!/Aim for the Ace! also ran in Margaret.
Ticket holders were herded into a waiting area, where we were able to get tantalizing glimpses of reproduction color art from the magazine. No photos were allowed, so of course, I snapped this quick picture while waiting.
Before we were let free to wander the exhibit, there was a 4 minute video that was absolutely fantastic. Individual panels of various popular works from 50 years of the magazine, accompanied by dramatic music and fade-ins and outs of recognizable dialogue, was surprisingly moving. The finale was a collage of kiss scenes from dozens of the series and both my wife and I sniffled a bit. It was hard to not be overwhelmed by the shoujo-ness of it all. ^_^
(These are the scenes from the video on the front and back cover of the exhibition catalog, which was lovely, but large. I did not get it, despite thinking about it very hard.)
The exhibit itself was broken into not quite a dozen rooms, the first several focusing on a period of the magazines’ evolution from general “girl’s” magazine to manga magazines.
These were followed by manga categories, like “Gag and Comedy”, “Horror” and “Sports” with original art from popular series of that kind. The “Sports” room had me riveted, with actual original pages from Attack. No. 1 and Ace o Nerae!, Swan and other famous series.
Comedy and Gag manga were presented in a cheerily painted area with sound and vocal effects in large word balloons on the wall. Horror was, of course, black walls, splashes of blood-red and scream effects. ^_^
The “Romance” room, was set up to look much like a reception area of a wedding hall, with banners of cloth hung in a canopy from the ceiling.
There was a focus spot on a series I was not at all familiar with – Hot Road – and we were allowed to take pictures of the motorcycles used in the live action movie of the series. Here is one of the watercolors. It’s an odd choice, since most of the art for this series is full of movement and large vistas, motorcycle noises and cityscapes. This was a cover of one of the manga volumes that manages to be none of that at all.
This lead into a full room of original art from this series..and wow do I have a new appreciation for manga artists after this. Much of this, and the next rooms, which had original water colors for color pages were…amazing. You could just about point out the moment that screentones were introduced into manga art, and marvel at the early effects created by ink, cutting, splattering and the liberal use of whiteout. The water colors of the 70s and 80s were absolutely breathtaking in some cases. The painting and drafting skills of the artists were evident in these full-size original pages.
Towards the end, there are a few rooms focusing on other popular series, such as Hana Yori Dango and current favorite Ao Haru Ride/ Blue Spring Ride, which is getting a live action movie in the upcoming months.
The end of the exhibit was focused on Riyoko Ikeda’s work. In a room patterned after, one supposes, wallpaper in Versailles, we are in suddenly in the presence of the original art from Berusaiyu no Bara/Rose of Versailles, the timeless tale of the female soldier and leader of soldiers during the French Revolution, Oscar Francois de Jarjeyes.
It was wonderful. ^_^
You remember the painting of Oscar as a classical hero on a horse? That’s a real thing. In full color, beat to shit on paper that has been folded and mishandled for decades…there it was. Along with (of course,) Takarazuka costumes from one of the first performances of the musical.
This lead into a wall of Ikeda’s art from Orpheus no Mado and a few original pieces of Oniisama E/Dear Brother. (Kaoru no Kimi with a guitar. Squee.)
Then we come around the corner for the ultimate photo op.
This life-size sculpture comes with a wall of photos from every angle, and a couple of French flags you can hold and take a picture of yourselves in the same position. I declined to pose, but got a cute picture of a couple of girls doing so. ^_^
From there, you are herded into the gift shop, where naturally, you buy way too many things you neither need nor want, because they look so cool!
(That is a Wada Shinji series on the bottom. It’s from Gin-iro no Kami no Arisa, which ran in Betsuma.)
When we had consumed goods to our satisfaction, we went up on the Sky Deck to check out Tokyo. Considering I took this on a cellphone, with the sun glare making it impossible to see the screen, this picture of the Skytree and Tokyo Tower came out damn good.
I’m really very glad we managed to get to this exhibit. It was exceptional in every way.