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The House of Illustration, in London, is holding an exhibition for architectural backdrops from classic Sci-fi Japanese animated movies. Titled Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan, the exhibition has put on display more than 100 paintings and drawings of architectural concept art from movies like Akira (1988), Ghost in the Shell (1995), and Metropolis (2001). The interest in this meticulous art has further risen with the release of a Hollywood live action adaptation for Ghost in the Shell, in March of this year, starring Scarlett Johansson.

Illustration for Ghost in the Shell by Hiromasa Ogura – Courtesy of Shirow Masamune / KODANSHA · BANDAI VISUAL · MANGA ENTERTAINMENT Ltd – Image via House of Illustration

Artists create contexts for the future worlds featured in these movies, through hand-drawing and watercolor rendering. Their designed contexts play a major role in communicating the story to the viewers and putting them in the full picture. These contexts include whole cities, buildings, and spaces which reflect the spirit of the era. For example, the events of the anime movie Ghost in the Shell are set in 2029, in the fictional Japanese city of Niihama. Art Director Hiromasa Ogura managed to convey an image for a dark and dystopian future through the featureless soaring skyscrapers, all clad in metal, turning the entire city into something that resembles a lifeless mechanical factory. He was inspired in his expressive depiction of Niihama by Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong, famous for its dense clusters of high-rises.

Illustration for Ghost in the Shell by Hiromasa Ogura – Courtesy of Shirow Masamune / KODANSHA · BANDAI VISUAL · MANGA ENTERTAINMENT Ltd – Image via House of Illustration

Ghost in the Shell was not the only animated movie with a setting inspired by real world cities and architecture. Katsuhiro Ôtomo, the director of the iconic cyber punk anime movie Akira, has also revealed that he was inspired by 1970s Tokyo in his vision of Neo-Tokyo, where the events of the movie take place.

Illustration for Ghost in the Shell by Hiromasa Ogura – Courtesy of Shirow Masamune / KODANSHA · BANDAI VISUAL · MANGA ENTERTAINMENT Ltd

 “Their fictional worlds reflected real-life concerns over ruthless urban development and erosion of identity, mirroring the films’ narratives and giving the backgrounds a crucial role to play. Their work has had a defining influence on the style of anime we think of as typical today.” _ House of Illustration

Watercolor sketches by Hiromasa Ogura and other artists like Mamoru Oshii and Shuichi Hirata, from all their popular works, are on show. There are, also, some intricate pencil drawings by Takashi Watabe from Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence. The gallery is the first of its kind in the UK, and it is open for all age categories until the 10th of September, 2017.

Illustration for Ghost in the Shell 2 by Takashi Watabe – Courtesy of Shirow Masamune / KODANSHA · IG, ITNDDTD – Image via House of Illustration

You can read more about the process of creating Anime Architecture, by checking this article presented by the curator of the exhibition Stefan Riekeles on the House of Illustration website.

 

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