JAPAN: Kingdom of Characters4. Feb - 12. Aug 12 / ended Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
This vibrant exhibition offers the chance to encounter characters from television, computer games and comics. Many have become much loved household names around the world.
Kingdom of Characters comes to the Sainsbury Centre following displays in Manila and Sydney. Providing an overview of manga and anime through the second half of the 20th century, the exhibition provides a unique insight into this cultural phenomenon. It will also give fans the chance to come face-to-face with some of their favourite characters, including human-sized Ultraman, Pikachu and a Hello Kitty ‘skipping’ through the gallery.
As well as 3D characters, the exhibition includes graphic illustrations and even a room-set of a teenager’s Hello Kitty bedroom. The set has also been specially designed by the Sainsbury Centre to allow younger visitors the chance to peep into the room, which is decorated with merchandise featuring Kitty in her many manifestations, from duvetcover to alarm clock. Anime screenings and graphic illustrations are included in the exhibition and create a context for the visiting characters.
The exhibition asks some thought-provoking questions about what characters are, why they are so popular and how they have become central to everyday life within contemporary Japanese society. The exhibition also considers ideas such as the importance of characters as design products.
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