Cultural Affairs Agency to Launch Research on Preserving Original Manga Drawings

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Manga artist Tetsuya Chiba speaks during an interview in Tokyo in March 2021.

The Cultural Affairs Agency decided to examine the conditions of original drawings by leading manga artists in Japan and to research methods for preserving them. The agency aims to prevent deterioration, scattering or loss of such valuable drawings and other materials.

The agency will begin research this month, first with cooperation from Tetsuya Chiba, 85, known for his work “Ashita no Joe” (Tomorrow’s Joe), and gradually expand the scope of the study to other famous manga artists. They plan to borrow drawings and other materials from Chiba until March. In addition to cataloging, examining and improving their condition, the initiative will also include photographing dozens of borrowed items and examine preservation methods with an eye to potential digital usage.

The value of Japanese manga pieces has increased both in Japan and abroad, as evidenced by Osamu Tezuka’s original drawings of “Astro Boy” fetching a high price at an auction overseas. However, many such works are often privately owned by the creators or their bereaved families, raising concerns of works becoming lost or taken overseas. Given such risks, the government is hastening to develop a system for preservation, which would include the government collecting original manga pieces.