Another video blast from the past via YouTube, posted by my old friend Tony Luke, who features in this BBC TV documentary alongside Hayao Miyazaki, Katsuhiro Otomo, Buichi Terasawa, his then manager Junco Ito, Steve Kyte, a whole crowdfund of UK and Japanese fans, and me.
Manga! was presented by Jonathan Ross, then the BBC’s acceptable face of edgy pop culture. Behind the scenes it was extensively enhanced by the translation and insight of Jonathan Clements. As you can see from this 1993 footage, Wossy, Tony and I have barely aged. Clements has merely become more imposing as the years have rolled by. Hayao Miyazaki and Steve Kyte have since grown beards, though that decision is not necessarily connected to this documentary.
The programme was made to precede the latenight screening of Otomo’s movie Akira on 7 January 1994. Not quite four years since the UK’s first convention screenings of anime, three years since the first legal UK anime and manga releases, first dedicated anime/manga magazines and first anime convention, anime and manga were still almost fetishistic cult objects in the eyes of those members of the general public who’d actually heard of them.
There were concerns that, unless the great British public could be given some context and background to anchor this strange new art form in their experience, they would simply not understand Otomo’s masterwork, and switch channels. So the BBC did what the BBC has always done best, if sometimes with a faintly patronising air: it made a tv programme to explain. And 21 years on, Manga! is still an interesting programme.
As far as I know it contains the earliest footage of a British convention, from Contanime 1993, and the earliest footage of Steve Kyte anime art as part of its kaleidoscopically hallucinatory backgrounds. (If you know of earlier material please post a link!)
Verdict: even after so long, still worth watching for more than historical interest. So if you’ve got a spare half hour, enjoy.