World building Traditionally painted background illustrations from classic sci-fi anime films take centre stage in this new exhibition, based in London
Feast on the stunning hand-painted backdrops to the original Ghost in the Shell film, on show in London.
“With the Hollywood version of Ghost in the Shell at the cinema,” says Stefan Riekeles, the curator behind Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan, “it’s a great time to have a look at the original artwork that laid the foundation for this remake.”
Taking place at London’s House of Illustration, this perfectly timed exhibition explores the background paintings and drawings from influential anime films, including 1995’s Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor: The Movie, and 2001’s Metropolis. The art on show will include the watercolours of Hiromasa Ogura, and the intricate pencil drawings of Takashi Watabe.
The UK exhibition is the first of its kind, and is the outcome of a longer research project into Japanese animation. “From the beginning I was fascinated by the background illustrations,” Stefan explains. “These works present large parts of the world view of the film. Some are worked out in great detail, yet each one is only visible for a few seconds.”
By stripping away the characters and the plot, this is a rare chance for these background illustrations to get the full attention they deserve. “We present scenes that are tranquil – here and there almost picturesque – drawn by hand with pencil and watercolours on paper,” says Stefan. “It’s the sheer beauty of these illustrations that we’ll be celebrating in this exhibition.”
Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan, runs from 26 May to 10 September. You can find out more about the exhibition by visiting www.houseofillustration.org.uk.
Watercolour art by Hiromasa Ogura, who painted the three backgrounds shown here for 1995’s Ghost in the Shell. Ghost in the Shell’s director, Mamoru Oshii, described the Asian megacities as “exotic”.