Visiting The Otomo Katsuhiro Genga Exhibition

Posted By yonghow on May 11th, 2012

Running from the 7th of April to the 30th of May 2012 the Otomo Katsuhiro Genga Exhibition is a celebration of the famed manga artist/anime director’s superlative body of creative work, with about 3000 original art pieces spanning over 3 decades on display. The exhibition venue is at 3331 Arts Chiyoda Centre, located about 5 minutes walk from the Akihabara Electric town.

I arrived on a rainy Wednesday afternoon right smack in the middle of the Golden Week and was expecting a huge crowd, but thankfully it wasn’t too bad and I had a comfortable time looking at the exhibits.

(above) The information booth in the main lobby of the building, just before the entrance to the exhibition on the right. Photography within the exhibition hall (art pieces section) was prohibited, but here are some press pictures I found, courtesy of Gizmodo Japan and Radiokaikan :

Needless to say it was an absolute thrill to see so many of Otomo’s most iconic pieces of artwork in their original, unvarnished splendor, right down to the individual brushstrokes. The art pieces were broken up into 2 main sections – his colored illustration works and the full collection of all his original Akira manga panels. Yep, every single one of them that make up the 6 complete tankobon volumes. (images below)

During the exhibition I was poring through many of the above B4 sized Akira panels looking for little imperfections/misaligned screen tones ( stickers with varying shades of gray that pre-digital comic artists used for applying textures and shades ). I was not able to find a single one- a true testament to the amazing technical quality of these manga panels.

(above and below) An empty white wall serves as a giant sketching board for visitors to leave their impressions. Earlier sketches have already been taken down, some drawn by notable manga artists like Inoue Takehiko ( Vagabond ), Katsuya Terada ( Monkey King ), and more. I hope the exhibition organizers archived them.

(above) A life size reproduction of the wall crater in Domu for visitors to pose and take pictures with. (below) A Kaneda wannabe dons the red jacket. It’s 500 yen a pop to sit on the bike and have your photo taken.

(above) A quick doodle that Otomo-san drew on the wall the day I visited, andย  (below) the board as it looks on the final day of the exhibition. Thanks to Josh for the picture.

(below) The exhibition merchandize shop. The physical size of the store was really small and couldn’t really accommodate the steady flow of customers so only a limited number was allowed at one time – the rest of us were waiting patiently in a long line for our turn to go in.

(above) A huge stockpile of posters. There were 3 different designs, 2 of which were created specially for the exhibition. I ended up buying all three.

For those who are unable to attend the exhibition in person, I highly recommend the exhibition catalogue ( image above – read the review here ), which collects most of the art pieces that were on display. I dare say by the sheer size and wide gamut of its content that its possibly the best Otomo art book ever published.

The exhibition runs till the 30th of this month, so if you are in Tokyo or plan to visit sometime in the next 2 weeks, you know where to be. :]


13 Responses to “Visiting The Otomo Katsuhiro Genga Exhibition”


that looks amazing! did you get me a poster!?


where to buy the ticket?


Zack – I’m really sorry, it was raining that day and I was already carrying more than I can manage. I hope there will be an online store selling the items because there were many I wanted to get but couldn’t carry home.

karbro – You will need to purchase a ticket from Lawson Tickets online ( ) or a Lawson store if you are already in Japan. Please note there will be no ticket sales at the venue itself – all tickets need to be pre-purchased.


Geez, they let you take pictures of everything!! Did you have a press pass or something? I thought pictures were strictly forbidden! Awesome pics!!

Did you buy the CD? I actually quite liked the music!

Yes, the visiting artist’s wall is totally different from when I was there. Like you said, I hope they preserved everything!

And Otomo was THERE? Was that small sketch on the artist’s wall with all the others?

There was one big section that remained blank, right before the AKIRA room, and the sign said Otomo was working on a piece to debut there, but it wasn’t ready when I visited last month. Was anything there when you saw it?

I just purchased my ticket for the 30th….final day of the show! Hopefully it will be there then. And hopefully Mr. Otomo will be there, but I don’t know if he would feel comfortable interacting with his fans. It’s been my dream to meet him for so long now…I wonder if there’s any chance.

(I envy you whenever I see the picture of you with him at that party…you’re so lucky!!)


Oooops. I see those are press pictures! You already answered my question, but I missed it!


i think of that all the time. i would love to meet him, and have imagined that so many times, but honestly, what do i have to say to him that he’s never heard?


I’m an idiot. A proper,proper idiot. I left it too late to get a ticket (thinking I’d get one no problem) but now it’s sold out for the remaining few days. I’m so disappointed! I’ve emailed asking if there’s any chance of getting a single ticket somehow, and if that fails I’m just going to turn up and beg. Although it seems unlikely ๐Ÿ™

Would you be able to tell me that even if I didn’t get in to the exhibition would I still have access to the shop? Or is it past a barrier or something…

A reply would be much appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚



Justin – Nope, as far as I know the ticket isn’t required for entry into the shop. Well at least they didn’t check if I had one.

I read somewhere on the official blog that unsold tickets will go on sale at the venue ( granted that there are any on that day ), so you might want to check in with the counter if you decide to head down to the venue. Good luck !


And now….Otomo Genga is finished.

It was crowded on the last day. It indeed looked like a sell-out capacity!

Unfortunately, Mr. Otomo didn’t finish the new piece in time….the wall where it was intended to hang was still blank!

I didn’t want to leave…I wanted to somehow preserve every detail and line into my brain, but it was just impossible…there was just SO much to look at in each and every piece!

I loved how all of the AKIRA pages looked as if they were floating in air inside the cases.

The visitor’s wall was full of doodles and notes….every inch was filled! You wouldn’t believe what happened to the sketch Yonghow posted! I sent a picture to him to show all the “graffiti” all over it!

The goods shop was BARE. Sorry to those looking for leftovers….there was almost NOTHING left. Copies of the book, a few copies of the CD….the large fireball poster, and the smaller Good Weather poster, which I bought cause it wasn’t there the first time I visited. Several of the badge sets were left, but those were insanely priced at 6300 yen! Everything else was GONE….no postcards, t-shirts, tote bags, clear files…nothing! Too bad…I was hoping to pick up a few more items.

I’m so sad that it’s over…I just wanted to take it all with me. But thankfully the book is gorgeous and does a great job reliving the memory. I’m just so lucky I was able to see it…it was truly a dream come true to be able to witness all that genius art close up and personal. I hope I can thank Mr. Otomo in person someday.


Josh – Thank you for the picture. :] And now we look forward to Otomo’s new manga and hopefully a new animated film as well.


Why cant cool shit like this come to america!? Is there any why to get into contact with Mr. Otomo? I’m currently a student and I want to do a thesis on how anime and manga have influenced art forms in the western world.


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