Govt to Build Center for Preserving Manga, Anime Materials; Facility Will Store Original Art, Animation Cels, Idea Notes

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Visitors look at animation cels at a museum in Matsuyama in July 2009.

The government has solidified plans to establish a center for the collection, preservation and exhibition of original Japanese manga artwork and anime cels, which is planned to become operational in fiscal 2028.

The tentatively named Media Arts National Center is designed to prevent these original artworks and animation cels from being scattered or transferred overseas. It is also expected to have the function of training experts in preservation practices as well as research and study.

The government intends to set out the plan in its Basic Policies on Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform, which is to be approved by the Cabinet within the 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 institution 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 interviews with artists, idea notes and other materials. The government also envisions working, with the agreement of the copyright holders, to digitize the works.

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 image from Osamu Tezuka’s “Astro Boy” sold for ¥35 million at an auction in Paris.

The collection and preservation of 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 such institutions have, there is a need for the government to tackle this job.

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

With manga culture being more and more actively spread overseas, particularly in East Asia, the development of manga museums supported by government agencies is progressing in China, South Korea and Taiwan.

The government hopes to use the center to work with the private sector to boost the competitiveness of the nation’s content industry by strengthening the spread of information throughout and beyond Japan.