Green Theme At International Manga Summit In Kyoto, Japan

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In Kyoto, Japan, the 9th International Manga Summit was held on September 6-8, 2008 and the main theme for this convention was "Environmental Innovation". Those in charge of the summit note:

Kyoto was the site of the United Nation's Convention on Climate Change. We envision a convention that will boost awareness of sub-themes such as "global warming prevention", "dietary education", and "The 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)", while advocating the passing of the torch of a promising culture to the children and young people responsible for the next generation.

In fact, comic arts in Japan has a long tradition of using the screen or manga book to convey environmental messages as important parts of the plot. One of the pioneers, Tezuka Osamu, was way ahead of the times with his early trailblazing works from the 1940s and 1950s, often set in a future filled with robots and high-tech gadgets - and Astroboy as the hero helping the underdogs against unfair destructive development, as in the classic episode of Red Cat from 1980 that you can watch below the fold!
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Tezuka in English lists how Red Cat was first published as a manga in 1953, depicting Tokyo as it may be in 2013. An electric city, a dream for some, a nightmare for others. In the anime version from 1982, that date has been moved forward to the 2030s. Not much forest remains, as the city continues to expand. But the mysterious character Red Cat has invited a select group of boys, whos fathers are all involved in the big development projects, to do something about saving the animals, and the environment...

Jungle Emperor Leo (later shamelessly copied by Disney) and Black Jack are also known here for their green themes, but it is worth noting how Tezuka Osamu and other manga creators are always eager to explore the newest technology.

If you are in London, do visit the Barbican for their Movies into Manga show about Tezuka Osamu on September 18-24, 2008, marking the 80th anniversary of his birth, with films curated by Helen McCarthy alongside an exhibition of his drawings, to "celebrate the work which has inspired generations of successors..."

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Written by Martin Frid at

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