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Eshi100: Sankei Exhibits Works of Manga and Animé Illustrators until May 7

Eiji Homma



“Yuguredoki” (Twilight Time) by KEI


An exhibition of works by more than 100 manga and animé illustrators—called Eshi by fans—will run from April 29 to May 7 at the Akiba Square in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo.


Called “Eshi100 07,” the exhibit sponsored by Sankei Shimbun, features works of both veterans and newcomers, each with a unique viewpoint on the fusion of the real with the unreal.


How will these illustrators, at the very forefront of Japanese pop-culture, evoke this theme of “fusion” on the canvas?


The Japanese are known for keeping traditions while adopting technical skills and values systems from abroad, creating a unique new culture. In the same way, modern Eshi continue to evolve by adopting elements from diverse cultures. The exhibition will include 104 artists whose works are testament to that.


Illustrator Hajime Ueda’s “Kuriin Sakusen” (Clean War) shows a parade of young girls in European style armor. Drawn in rough strokes, the picture’s bold composition is deeply interesting. However, upon closer look, it becomes clear that the girls are actually wearing school uniform tops and skirts. The oddness of marching while wearing indoor shoes and carrying brooms and futon beaters captivates the eye.


 “Kuriin Sakusen” (Clean War) by Hajime Ueda


I’ve been fixated on the idea since I saw Medieval children’s armor at a museum. It has this cute yet grim feeling, and I’ve always wanted to draw it someday,” Ueda said, discussing the roots of the work.


Ueda is known for the ending animation of the “Bakemonogatari” animé, and has a unique style. “I think about the subtext of a work, and really enjoy sneaking it in,” he said.


At the exhibit, you’ll find many pieces with a sense of traditional “Wa,” yet evoking Modern Japan. One example is “Yuguredoki” (Twilight Time) by KEI.


At first glance, it might appear to be a western scene. However, in the background KEI has drawn a huge Shinto Torii gate, cherry blossoms, and Japanese traffic lights. The lovely young girl holding an umbrella has a subtle Japanese characteristic as well—check out, for example, the traditional pouch she’s holding.


The illustrator KEI had a hand in designing the virtual idol Miku Hatsune. His goal in this work is the fusion of Japanese Wa, and the West.


“I put frills on her Japanese clothing. She has black hair but blue eyes. I tried to mix up lots of different things. With the old things and modern things [in the background], I wanted to put a new emphasis on totally normal scenery,” KEI explained.


“Nemurinosoko”(Bottom of sleep) by Otohiko Takano


East and West, and the modern Moe style. The unexpected affinity between the three is quite surprising. And yet, the intent of drawing feminine beauty is the same for both modern Eshi and Ukiyoe artists of the Edo period. The styles might differ immensely, but the Eshi’s constant refinement of skill, and their sincere dedication to their art draw appreciating eyes the same way.


The artists’ list bear heavy hitters like Haruhiko Mikimoto, who helped with character design for the animé The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, and AOKI Ume, who created the manga Hidamari Sketch and designed the characters for Puella Magi Madoka Magica. This should be an excellent chance to better experience Moe Style art as it gains popularity worldwide.
Eshi100 07 will be open every day from April 29 to May 7. Entry fee is Y1000 for high school students and up; junior high and younger audience can enter for free. For more information, use the enquiry page on the official website.



(Click here to read the original article in Japanese)


Eiji Homma is a staff writer of the Sankei Shimbun Culture News Department.