Monday, 16 October 2006

acmi salutes tezuka: japan's founding father of anime

For Adults: Focus on Tezuka (Dec 7-17, ACMI Cinemas)
For Kids: Kids' Flicks presents a selection of Tezuka children's films (Jan 1-26)

Curated by Philip Brophy

The films of Japan's leading and most historically important manga (comic) and anime (animation) artist Tezuka Osamu (1928-1989), will be screened during Focus on Tezuka, a special cinema retrospective taking place at the Australian Centre for the Moving image (ACMI) in December 2006.

Curated by Philip Brophy (filmmaker, artist and author of the recent BFI-published guide 100 Anime) Focus on Tezuka will screen a mix of Australian theatrical premieres and old favourites, including Tezuka's cherished television series, features (for adults and children) and short films - with some of the earliest work dating back to the 1960s.

Focus on Tezuka has been organised to coincide with Tezuka: The Marvel of Manga, a major exhibition of Tezuka's manga art, also curated by Brophy, which will be presented at the National Gallery of Victoria (Nov 3, 2006 - Jan 28, 2007).

"Tezuka is not only the 'god of manga' in Japan, but a key visionary who imagined how the popularity of manga could be translated to the big and small screens," Focus on Tezuka says curator Philip Brophy.

"I know of no single person who has had such a deep and direct influence on a country's moving image history. He inspired many other manga artists to take similar measures, and in doing so consolidated the way that the hand-drawn nature of manga has affected the graphic sensibility of anime to this day. Directing and scripting most episodes and movies bearing his name, Tezuka ensured that the innovative modes and styles of story-telling he fostered in manga breathed and screamed in his anime."

Widely considered to be the godfather of anime, Tezuka invented the classic 'wide-eyed' style so distinctive of anime characters, and single-handedly brought Japanese animation to the West through his classic '60s TV serials Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion.

Already known for incorporating cinematic visual cues into his manga, Tezuka was one of the first manga artists to realise the potential for creating animation from his work, and through his success, kick-started a worldwide entertainment phenomenon, which continues to grow. With the anime home entertainment market estimated to be worth over $625 million* in the US alone, the manga-anime partnership is one of the most remarkable publishing and filmmaking synergies of modern times - one that Hollywood, with its literary adaptations, novelisation and book cover tie-ins, can only dream about.  

For his television animation debut, Tezuka chose one of his most popular manga characters, Tetsuwan Atomu - Astro Boy - a courageous boy robot with incredible strength comparable to 100,000 horses, air jets in his legs enabling him to fly and an electric heart that could discern criminal intentions. Astro Boy's adventures had been appearing monthly in the magazine Shonen since 1952, and when the black-and-white animated TV series Astro Boy debuted on Japanese television in 1963 (as the first domestically produced Japanese animation series ever made), it was an instant hit.

Astro Boy was re-dubbed into English and became the first Japanese animation to screen on US television . The caring robot with a heart of gold, who uses his myriad super powers to fight evil in all its forms proved irresistible to American audiences and a worldwide pop culture phenomenon was born.

Over the years Astro Boy has joined the ranks of Mickey Mouse and Betty Boop as an enduring animated icon with a devoted fan-base that continues from generation to generation. In addition to appearing on the big and small screens, Astro Boy's image now graces credit cards, mobile phones and videogames.

In 2004, Astro Boy was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame, alongside such memorable robotic characters as C3PO from Star Wars; Maria, the art-deco female android from Fritz Lang's Metropolis; and the dastardly Hal-9000 computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

* Daniel Roth, 'It's... Profitmón!', Fortune Magazine, December 12, 2005


Focus on Tezuka - Overview
Focus on Tezuka will feature many of Tezuka's most famous animations including the television series Astro Boy (the 1963 original and the 1980 remake), Kimba the White Lion (1967 original), Princess Knight, and The Amazing Three; as well as feature films including Metropolis; 1001 Nights, an Arabian nights for adults, and the futuristic epic Space Firebird 2772. The showcase will also feature several Tezuka works which have never been seen in Australian cinemas before, such as magical girl animated TV series Marvellous Melmo; Cleopatra, one of the first R-rated animated features ever produced; and many innovative and experimental short films that Tezuka created to screen at international film festivals.

Following the retrospective season, ACMI's regular school holiday cinema program Kids' Flicks will devote its entire January 2007 season to Tezuka's children's films, allowing a new generation to discover the magic of Tezuka's work. The season will include the features Jungle Emperor Leo (1997), the compelling story of the grown-up Kimba and his lion cubs; The Fantastic Adventures of Unico (1981), starring a sweet-natured unicorn who grants wishes to the person who loves him, and Alakazam the Great (1960), about the adventures of a mythical magic monkey with a singing voice supplied by '60s teen idol Frankie Avalon.

Focus on Tezuka - Highlights


A Time Slip of 10,000 years: Prime Rose (Taimu Suripu 10,000 ne Puraimu Rozu) 1983 - A devil sends two cities - Kujukuri City in Chiba Prefecture and Dallas in the U.S. - ten thousand years ahead into the future, makes them fight each other, and enjoys watching over it. A special made-for-television movie, which first aired on the Nippon television network. AUSTRALIAN THEATRICAL PREMIERE
Cleopatra: Queen of Sex (Kureopatora) 1970 - Tells the story of Cleopatra and her numerous romantic encounters with Julius Caesar and other men in her life. AUSTRALIAN THEATRICAL PREMIERE
Black Jack (Barakku Jakku)  1996 - Originally appearing as a manga character and then in a television series, Black Jack is one of Tezuka's most famous adult anime characters. A talented surgeon who operates illegally, Black Jack uses radical and supernatural techniques to help patients who come to him when all other doctors have failed.
A Thousand and One Nights (Senya ichiya monogatari) 1969 - Based on the Arabian Knights, but with the original adult content left in. This was a major undertaking designed to attracted worldwide attention to the potential of animated feature films. Over 60,000 staff were hired and 70,00 motion pictures used to make this film. The main character was drawn to resemble French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, and the rock music was deliberately placed to attract a mass audience.
Space Firebird 2772 (Hintori 2772) 1980-  Based on the manga Phoenix: Tezuka's epic exploration of the cycle of death and rebirth. Set in a future where all humans are raised as test-tube babies, the story follows Godo, a young genetically engineered fighter pilot, who is selected to capture the deadly Firebird 2772, a fire-breathing avian space monster whose energy must be harnessed in order to save the earth from destruction. 


Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atomu) - First episode of the original 1963 television series
Kimba the White Lion (Junguru Taitei) - Episode from the 1965 series
The Amazing Three (W3) 1965 - Episode from the 1963 series. The Amazing Three are extraterrestrial special agents, who each have a special power to transform into an animal.  Arriving on earth they hook up with a human boy, Shinichi, and his secret agent brother, Koichi, and work together to fight crime and remedy world problems.
Princess Knight (Ribbon No Hishi) 1967 - Said to be Tezuka's wife's favorite manga, Princess Knight is a gender-bending adventure drama about Sapphire (the Princess Knight), a girl who is born with a girl's body but a boy's mind, and whose body has two human hearts - one of a girl and one of a boy.
Marvelous Melmo (Fushigi Na Melmo) 1971  - Designed by Tezuka to subtly introduce sex education to young children, the series was originally broadcast in just two countries, Japan and Italy. The series followed the adventures of Melmo, a young girl who had in her possession magic candies that, when taken, could make her grow older (a teenager) or younger (an infant). Along with Princess Knight, Melmo was one of the first animes made specifically for girls.

Further information

Claire Butler
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2415 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 654
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