Govt to Collect, Preserve Original Manga Drawings, Celluloid from Anime

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Cultural Affairs Agency

The Cultural Affairs Agency will begin collecting Japanese original manga drawings and animation celluloid pictures in the next fiscal year in light of their increased value as works of art, according to several government sources. Such drawings and pictures have been traded at high prices thanks to the international popularity of Japanese manga and anime.

The agency will study methods to preserve and utilize the materials. It is also considering building a new national facility to exhibit them.

It plans to include related expenses in the budgetary request for fiscal 2024, the sources said.

The agency envisions collecting the materials through purchases and donations. It will formulate a basic plan for the management and exhibition of collected original drawings and celluloid pictures by the end of fiscal 2023, and start carefully studying which materials should be collected and in what way they should be exhibited.

The move highlights the rapidly increasing value of original drawings and celluloid pictures, which once were regarded as nothing more than materials for making magazines, books and animated movies. In recent years, they have come to be regarded as cultural materials or works of art that enable the public to understand manga and the animation production process as well as the particulars of artists, and people have flocked to related exhibitions and events.

According to the Association of Japanese Animations, Japan’s anime industry’s combined domestic and international market scale was ¥2.742 trillion in 2021, more than double the figure from a decade ago. Sales have been on the rise both at home and abroad.

In 2018, an original drawing from Osamu Tezuka’s work “Tetsuwan Atomu” (“Astro Boy”) was purchased for about ¥35 million at an auction in Paris.

The agency hopes to curb the outflow of original manga drawings and animation celluloid pictures to overseas through collection and preservation efforts. It also aims to use them as a tourism resource to attract overseas manga and anime fans.