I haven’t been back to the Tezuka World museum on Kyoto Station for a couple of years, so it was wonderful to see a picture-packed report from Christopher Butcher on his recent visit. (His blog Comics212 is always worth a look!)
A flying figure of Astro Boy outside the magnificent, space-age Kyoto Station (aka The Death Star) points the way towards Kyoto Tezuka Osamu World, alongside the Kyoto Hotel Granvia on an upper level. Entry is free. It’s quite small, and part of the floor area is taken up by a Tezuka-themed gift shop packed with desirable swag. There are displays of Tezuka art and figures and standees of his characters. When Butcher visited, a big promotional artwork for new live-action movie MW was on prominent display, along with high-res reproductions of black and white art from the manga.
If you pay a small fee – currently ¥200/400 – for a ticket to the Osamu Tezuka 300 Inch theater, you also get access to a reading area where you can read copies of Tezuka’s manga. This has been set up in co-operation with the Kyoto International Manga Museum, and is fun to browse, but lacks the range and scope of the Museum’s full collection. Otherwise, Kyoto Tezuka Osamu World is not a patch on the wonders of the Tezuka Osamu Manga Musum in Takarazuka. So apart from the charm and convenience of a mini-museum right alongside the station, and the fact that admission is free, why bother? Quite simply, here in the 300 Inch Theater you can see anime that you won’t see anywhere else.
The English-language website formerly maintained by Tezuka Production listed 6 full-colour films which combine edited footage from other Tezuka works with new animation. They were produced by Minoru Kubota and Sumio Udagawa especially for the 300 Inch Theater; Tezuka Production gave full cast and crew lists but no run times or release dates. The films use the Phoenix as a narrator and are in two parts, one portraying Tezuka characters and the other tales of Kyoto and Japanese history, illustrating various moral, social and ecological issues.
These works can’t be seen anywhere else in Japan and, as far as I can find out, have never been shown outside the country. We tried to get one or two of them for the Osamu Tezuka 80th birthday season at London’s Barbican Cinema last year, but were unable to do so. None of them featured in Philip Brophy’s exhibition and film season Osamu Tezuka: The Marvel of Manga which toured Australia and visited the USA and France. They don’t seem to be available on video or DVD, even in Japan.
Their rarity makes Kyoto Tezuka Osamu World an essential stop for any serious Tezuka aficionado.