Anime and manga are not simply media, but global iconographies. Artists and designers all over the world have absorbed the visual grammar of anime and manga into the design language of the mass market.
For evidence, look no further than the new IKEA textile range. Designed by Asa Ekstrom, a pretty Swedish blonde who would slot right into any successful high school anime series, they take a range of animanga tropes – the neon-lit Tokyo of Akira, the Noh mask, origami, and of course the cute blonde heroine – and mix in Scandinavian cultural references. The Noh mask is topped by a Viking helmet, the origami is a reindeer, the cute girl is wearing Swedish folk costume and Godzilla is stomping through a cityscape based on Stockholm’s Sergel Square.
Meanwhile, a set of photos from the 2009 Tokyo Great Quilt Festival shows Japanese designers using their own visual language, reminding us that quilts are far more than a Euro-American decorative tradition. New Japanese quilts are going in hugely exciting directions, picking up influences from ancient Japanese graphics and modern movements like Takashi Murakami’s Superflat aesthetic.
Exciting times for historians, as well as artists. The current of global culture is flowing faster than ever.