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Title: Ninja Clash at The British Museum: talking with curator Paul Gravett
Category: Interview
Author: Nargis
Published: Mon, 30 Jul 2007

Nargis's article

As the British Museum embarks on two anime seasons, Anime UK News speaks to Paul Gravett author of ‘Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics’ and curator of the ‘Anime to Manga for Families’ season to find out just why the likes of Naruto have invaded the big screen.

Why do you think these specific anime were appropriate?

Paul Gravett: “My interest in curating this first ever season of anime at The British Museum was to show the strong connections between the two major modern artforms of Japan - manga and anime. So one of my criteria was to choose anime movies that are based on the stories, characters or concepts that originated in manga. Another criteria was to show a mixture of better known and less familiar films, all of a high quality, different and distinct. I had a very long wishlist but not everything could be sourced for this initial series and certain timeless classics like Phoenix, Barefoot Gen and Akira cried out to be included.”

What are the challenges of selling anime to a younger audience? What elements will you focus on?

Paul Gravett: “The ‘Manga To Anime’ season is intended to popularise Japanese animated films by making them accessible to a broad public at a modest price or even totally free. The hope is that this will encourage more people, young and not so young, to discover and explore not only other anime but also the manga originals that they derive from. More broadly, the season also serves to raise awareness of and interest in all of Japanese culture and craft, modern and traditional.”

Are you looking to sell this to anime fans? Or rather, are you trying to attract an audience not so familiar with anime?

Paul Gravett: “I hope the season will attract both audiences, so we can all join in celebrating the wonders of modern animation and comics from Japan. Anime does really benefit from being shown on a bigger screen and there is clearly a growing demand for these films as more and more people find out about them. Helen McCarthy's Barbican Tuesdays have proved this, while the ICA is also showing Production I.G. gems next month, so the audience is expanding, whether among fans or the more casual, curious general public. This is only a first selection of major anime, perhaps there will be the chance to show more at The British Museum in the future, if this season proves as popular as I hope.”

How do you think anime is changing the way people view Japanese culture?

Paul Gravett: “I think anime and manga are both perfect media for stimulating curiosity in the culture of Japan, past and present. I think there may come a time when some of the finest modern manga and anime artists will become recognised themselves as 'Living National Treasures.'”

You can visit Paul's official website, containing a number of his anime and manga related articles, at http://www.paulgravett.com/.

Anime UK News also had a quick word with Rosanna Kwok, events manager at the British Museum.

Why has the British Museum decided to hold an anime season aimed at families?

Rosanna Kwok: "Most of the films we screen at the British Museum are aimed at an adult audience so with this season we wanted to have a few films that were appropriate for families. Anime as a film genre is hugely diverse with films for all sorts of audiences. Some of the better known ones in Britain are family orientated."

"When organising the programme of events to complement the Crafting Beauty exhibition we felt strongly that the themes should be contemporary Japanese craft and design."


Anime UK News would like to thank both Paul Gravett and Rosanna Kwok for answering our questions. The full schedule of theatrical screenings at the British Museum is as follows:

  • Naruto The Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow (July 28)
  • Porco Rosso (August 4)
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind (August 11)
  • Phoenix 2772 - Space Firebird (September 7)
  • Barefoot Gen (September 13)
  • Akira (September 14)
  • They Were Eleven (September 21)
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society (September 28)
  • Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (September 29)
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