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Japan Will Open a National Manga Museum by 2020

There are many reasons why Japan is cooler than we are. For one, they have a melding of Western pop culture and their own ancient traditions to give the country a truly unique flavor. Another reason is they have no separation between popular art and hoity-toity art, meaning much of what we’d consider kids’ stuff or plebeian entertainment is hailed for its quality. Thirdly, there’s a government initiative called “Cool Japan,” which is attempting to make the country seem even cooler internationally with a series of cultural initiatives. And they’re succeeding for sure with the new announcement of a planned manga and anime museum being spearheaded by the government.

The museum will be a project from the Manga National Center and is being pushed through by a bipartisan caucus that is led by chairman Keiji Furuya, the former state minister for disaster management, and also includes Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, an avowed manga fanatic. These are policymakers in the government, folks, and they’re putting forth manga and anime as an example of Japan’s thriving arts scene. They even have a plan to get most of the funds for it privately, without using the public works budget.

The goal is to have the museum up and running by 2020 to coincide with the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games and to attract domestic and foreign tourists. The goal of the MNC is to put forth these pieces as definite examples of cultural resources

Not only will the museum showcase manga and anime art that is popular internationally, but it will also exhibit related materials such as Japanese-made games. There’s even a hope that the museum will function as a training and nurturing ground for aspiring anime artists.

Naturally, this means I’m going to have to make a trip to Tokyo soon. Not only is there the sprawling history and wonder of the country, but there’s the Studio Ghibli Museum, which Hayao Miyazaki himself curates, and soon there will be this massive cultural center, with government support, to showcase manga artists and their work. I can’t even get over how cool this is. Well done, “Cool Japan.” Way to live up to your name.

What do you think about a national manga museum? Will you make the pilgrimage to Japan to see it? (Wave to me if you’re there when I am.) Talk about it in the comments below!

HT: The Chicago Tribune
Image: Kodansha

Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor and a film and TV critic for Follow him on Twitter!

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