As many avid watchers have found, anime remains one of the most engaging ways to learn about Japanese culture. Japanese anime artists, the writers, and illustrators, have masterfully presented a look into their culture in a way that has never felt like active learning, but rather something that effortlessly became part of our awareness.
Initially intended for world-building and storytelling, the inclusion of these cultural motifs gave anime fans an earnest desire to learn about the country that created their most beloved stories and characters. The Anime Art Museum wishes to bridge the gap between the visual elements and these cultural symbols with comprehensive learning tools to best foster intercultural understanding. To this end, we are building a program called “Delivering Culture,” where we extract these motifs and put them on display to be learned from and experienced firsthand. As a starting point, we have developed the following programs:
Gundam Exhibit: The iconic giant robot genre was forever changed by the emergence of the 1979 anime, Mobile Suit Gundam, the first show to introduce the “Real Robot” genre. At that time, the style of giant robot illustration in anime resembled more fanciful robots designs. Now, the image of gundam is the one that has the dominating presence in Japan. To celebrate the 35th anniversary of its creation, the Tokyo Gundam Project raised a 1/1 scale Gundam statue in 2014. The life-size Gundam stands 18 meters (60 feet) tall and lights up after 5:00 pm in Tokyo. We are seeking to work with artists and engineers to create a similarly memorable Gundam experience for fans here in the United States.
Ramen Café: The presence of food in anime has introduced us to traditional home cooking, festival vendor foods, and an array of snacks and drinks unique to Japan. The introduction of such foods has sparked enough interest that stores selling anime merchandise have taken to selling packaged Japanese sweets. We want to go a step further and create authentic Japanese cuisine to the best of our abilities. To start this endeavor, we are introducing a Ramen Café with menu items discounted for our students.
Virtual Reality Headsets: By incorporating recent technology (such as virtual reality headsets, omnidirectional video recording, and virtual online environments), students and visitors can access collections, classes, film screenings, lectures and discussions, or even hold online club meetings open to international members. Pairing the virtual platform with a VR headset will make museum experiences unforgettable for all ages.
Next Gen Museum: We are developing the AAM as a virtual museum simulation, providing the full experience of the museum online. By improving the static “museum slideshow” and expanding on flat “tour software,” the museum introduces a program similar to the experience and immersion of a video game. Once successfully created, all of the components of our museum will be accessible globally on a computer with access to the internet. This will allow for schools to take virtual field trips, self-paced tours, and learn from this one-of-a-kind museum without being limited by travel expenses, availability of chaperones, and scheduling conflicts.
Theater: We are including a theater with a 147” by 261” screen for the showing of anime films, documentaries, presentations, hosting lectures (locally and live streamed from any location), and exhibiting animation created by our students.
Library: Books from academic studies of anime to art books and manga, including titles published in-house, will be made available at the museum.
After Class Aisatsu: Our classes and programs are available to students and artists internationally. As a way to further enrich the experience of our students, each class will be followed by “After Class Aisatsu” (which is Japanese for “greeting” and pronounced: I-sought-Sue). For fifteen minutes after class finishes, our students are encouraged to get to know one another and share about themselves and their countries. To create a casual environment, students are provided with a variety of activities created by our instructors meant to facilitate conversations. True to the heart of cultural exchange programs, this session provides students with an opportunity to learn about international cultures and share about their own, creating a bridge for intercultural understanding and allowing our students to connect and grow with one another.
Anime art has presented these cultural nuances to us through visual narrative, extending this invitation into Japanese culture to us all. Through careful observation and study, we are making Japanese culture more accessible. We are taking these components and presenting them as the learning opportunities that they are; dedicated to seeing anime realized as an art form and solidifying its place in art history.