much Maligned, reviled, the manga is now his revenge. The largest exhibition devoted to the genre outside of Japan opens its doors Thursday at the British Museum in London, offering a journey from the traditional roots of this art form in the industry today who hoards billions.

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“The manga is the narrative form most popular today,” says Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, in the presentation of the Citi Exhibition Manga . The exhibition traces the evolution of the manga, since the drawings spectacular large japanese artists such as Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) up to the worldwide phenomenon of Pokémon, and the animated films (or animated) oscarisés of studio Ghibli.

spirited away studios Ghibli, the Oscar for best animated film in 2003

“there’s something in the commitment that makes the manga special”, judge Nicole Rousmaniere, curator of japanese arts. “The visual language reflects the background very, very quickly. It is because of the power of the line”. “I believe that in Japan this has to do with the fact that when you do calligraphy, when you look at the characters, your brain is already conditioned to have this graphic content”, she says.

visitors can learn how to properly read manga – which can be translated by “drawing not finished”, “exaggerated”, or “caricature” – but also to observe the delicate sketches of the famous franchise, Dragon Ball , or yet to discover the influence of the “god of manga” Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989), who has created iconic characters such as Astro Boy ( Astro le petit robot , in France), or Princess Sapphire .

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other works are more raw, visceral, exploring themes more complex. “It was to tell the stories of many people who have the impression that their stories are not told”, according to Ms. Rousmaniere. “It has always been at the avant-garde, designed by people who feel a little different (…) need Not have the money to be able to draw a manga, you can throw it on a piece of scrap paper, what a lot of people have done elsewhere.”

“The manga characters are very widely used as avatars for the web users to create identities virtual”

Nicole Rousmaniere, curator of japanese arts

one of these artists is Gengoroh Tagame, one of the most influential creators of manga gay, known for his performances striking the sm. “The manga is a medium that is very casual, so read the manga is very easy (…) and use the manga to represent the subjects of company has a lot of impact”, he explains.

Refuting even more the idea that cartoons are made for children, works challenging, working on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 or the Kobe earthquake in 1995. In a lighter register, visitors can take the pose to generate a digital image of themselves in different styles of manga.

In 2016, the industry has reached a turnover of 3.4 billion euros, and its popularity should only increase with the franchising platform in which it is engaged. In addition, the manga characters are very widely used as avatars for the web users to create identities online. “There is a manga for everyone, for literally every issue,” says Rousmaniere.

But the possibility of creating manga digitally has now become a threat to the fans of the manga, traditional, worries about it. “I think drawing by hand is going to disappear”.