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Government to build a center for the preservation of manga and anime materials; The facility stores original art, animation cels, and idea notes


Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Visitors view animation cells at a museum in Matsuyama in July 2009.

The government has drawn up plans to establish a center for the collection, preservation and exhibition of original Japanese manga artworks and anime cels, which is expected to become operational in the 2028 financial year.

The tentatively named Media Arts National Center is designed to prevent these original works of art and animation cels from being distributed or transferred abroad. It is also expected to perform the function of training experts in conservation practices and research and study.

The government plans to set out the plan in its basic economic and budgetary management policies and reforms, to be approved by the Cabinet within a month. The Cultural Affairs Agency plans to include the cost of designing a storage facility for manga and animation cels in its budget request for the next fiscal year.

Specifically, the storage facility will be located at the Sagamihara branch of the National Film Archive of Japan, and a training institute will be built on the grounds of the National Art Center in Minato Ward, Tokyo, which they are also considering using for exhibitions.

The center plans to collect not only original drawings and animation cels, but also notes from artist interviews, idea notes and other materials. The government is also considering working on digitizing the works, with the consent of the copyright holders.

In recent years, the artistic value of original drawings and animation cels that show the production process of a work has been reevaluated; for example, an original statue of Osamu Tezuka’s “Astro Boy” sold for ¥35 million at an auction in Paris.

Collecting and preserving manga has traditionally been handled by private institutions such as the Kyoto International Manga Museum in Kyoto City. But it has been pointed out that given the limited storage capacity and budget of such institutions, there is a need for the government to take up this job.

The global market for the content industry, which includes manga, animation and games, was valued at ¥123.6 trillion in 2019, larger than the petrochemical industry (¥89.9 trillion) and the semiconductor industry (¥77 trillion).

As manga culture is increasingly spread overseas, especially in East Asia, the development of manga museums, supported by government agencies, is advancing in China, South Korea and Taiwan.

The government hopes to use the center to work with the private sector to increase the competitiveness of the national content industry by strengthening the dissemination of information within and outside Japan.

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