Crazy about Manga
In Japan, manga is an absolutely huge phenomenon. In Spain, 10,000 kilometres away, it also drives its fans crazy, and there are more of them all the time. The word originally meant “whimsical drawings”, and those who draw or write them are known as mangakas, while the cartoon series, films and videogames they inspire are known as Anime.
Is there anyone who has never read, watched an episode or at least heard talk of the irreverant Dr. Slump, of the combats in Dragon Ball or of Doreamon, the cosmic cat who is so popular among children, and plenty of adults too? These are only a few examples, but the manga universe has an infinite capacity for subjects of all kinds, for all ages and all tastes, with an endless variety of characters.
They all come to life at the Salón del Manga de Barcelona, which attracts thousands of fans – known as otakus – every year, and also cosplay aficionados – who like to dress up as their favourite characters from anime and comics – and those who just can’t get enough of Japanese culture.
Carles Santamaría, director of the Salón del Manga de Barcelona
–The show is celebrating its 20th anniversary with more space and activities than ever before…
This year the salon has grown both in size and content. We have gone from 35,000 to 50,000 m2, occupying new spaces at the Montjuïc site.
The zones dedicated to manga, Japanese animation, cosplay competitions and concerts have been supplemented by an area for Japanese food, with a workshop presented by chefs from restaurants that have won Michelin stars. Another new feature is the Spirit of Japan area, with zen gardens, meditation sessions, macrobiotic food and kimonos. There will also be first class Japanese writers in attendance, such as Takeshi Obata, Kenzo Hanazawa and Tahehiko Inoue.
–Where is the sector heading?
Manga depends heavily on its situation in Japan, on the best-sellers it can produce there. From Dragon Ball to One Piece, taking in Death Note, Naruto or InuYhasa, there are lots of series that have had huge success, both in Japan and in overseas markets. Of all the comics sold in Spain, manga accounts for 30% of the total, so they occupy second place in the ranking of sales in this country after the superhero comics that come from the USA.
–In terms of national and international rankings, where would you place the Salón del Manga de Barcelona?
After the Japan Expo in Paris, this is the second most important fair outside Japan in terms of number of visitors, exhibitors, activities and media impact. Four years ago, the show was awarded one of the honours that the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives to organizations that promote Japanese culture in other countries.
Did you know that…?
Pokemon is the biggest attraction at the Salón del Manga de Barcelona this year. This game has become one of the most popular icons among fans of manga since it was first launched in 1996 (200,000 units were sold in the USA alone).
Some curious facts about Pokemon:
- Created by Satoshi Tajiri, the Pokemon are often inspired by real animals. The most famous of them is Pikachu.
- The franchise has sold more than 245 million games in all the world. They are also popular on television, as card games and as merchandising items.
- There are more than 800 episodes of the cartoon series, which has been shown in 160 countries and dubbed into 30 languages.
- There are more than 700 Pokemon creatures featuring in more than 60 games.
- The Japanese airline All Nippon Airways has its own themed fleet of Pokemon. The crew dress up and the planes themselves are decorated with Pokemon.
- Pokemon made it to the front cover of Time magazine in 1999.
- There are two Pokemon theme parks, one in Nagoya and another in Taipéi.