BCNM’s DE student Andrea Horbinski recently presented at the 2016 EU-Japan Agora Forum, which was held on October 24th and 25th in the Palais d’Egmont of Brussels, Belgium. The roundtable discussion, titled “Popular culture in Japan and Europe: Manga and the Franco-Belgian Comic Book”, was a part of a series of roundtables all day on Tuesday, October 25th, which culminated in an anniversary panel on 150 years of Belgo-Japanese diplomatic relations. Vanessa Frangville (ULB) and Fabrice Preyat (ULB) chaired the roundtable discussion, and participating in the discussion were also Seio Nakajima (Waseda University), Erwin Dejasse (Ulg), and Nelle Noppen (Maastricht University).
Andrea’s paper examined the artistic influences and practice of the leading creators of the two most significant movements in manga (Japanese comics) in the 1920s and 30s, namely proletarian and children’s manga. Both Yanase Masamu (1900-45) and Tagawa Suihô (1899-1989) participated in the short-lived but extremely generative radical art movement MAVO in the early 1920s, and after MAVO’s demise they each went on to put its principles into practice in their manga, showcasing different ways in which the influence of European avant-garde art movements bore fruit in the Japanese context. Yanase was particularly influenced by German artist George Grosz (1893-1959), while Tagawa’s smash hit manga Norakuro (1931-41) incorporated diverse influences that ranged from Constructivism to Charlie Chaplin. Through their manga output, MAVO and the European avant-garde exerted a lasting influence on the history of manga overall, as the manga output of both men challenged the existing consensus on what “manga” was, extending its scope in terms of subject matter, artistic strategies, and audience.
The EU-Japan Forum aims to offer a new, richer and deeper dialogue involving over a dozen academics visiting from Japan as well as an equivalent number of European counter-parts. The forum’s original two-day set-up foresees a series of high-level meetings built around original scientific contributions from both Japanese and European scholars as well as public discussions.