About a month ago, my friend and I were at a loose end, so we decided to jump on a train and head to the Manchester Urbis, to check out the ‘How Manga Took Over The World’ exhibition.
About 2 hours later and we arrived in Manchester. The Urbis is a rather cool building, kinda coming out of nowhere in the middle of Manchester and juxtaposed next to an old church. Very striking and modern, and quite a fitting place for an exhibition of this nature. I took a picture of the building from atop the Manchester Wheel, which was right next to the Urbis but I think it’s not there now.
So as we got into the Urbis, we were greeted by people dressed in all manner of weird and wonderful costumes – Soul Reapers, schoolgirls, Hyrule-ians, Kiras, were among the ones I recognised. It turned out that particular day was Manga Maniacs day, and people were invited to take part in a Cosplay competition. “Ah”, I said to my friend, “seems like there’s a cosplay event going on today.” “Cozz-pulay?? What’s that?” was the reply. My friend is not into anime and manga, but he’s open-minded enough and luckily, he was entertained rather than put off (as some people are) by the cosplayers.
The Manga exhibition is on the first floor, so we made our way up. We were greeted by Umeko, the mascot designed by Sonia Leung for the event. The exhibition is split into 5 sections: Cute, Action, Art/Fashion/Design, Communication, and Adult, and so, we methodically made our way around each section, taking it all in. It was a Saturday when we went, so it was quite busy and there were cosplayers running around everywhere, but it helped add to the atmosphere of the exhibition.
Each section is quite small, and contains the expected pictures, panel, models, etc. The information and the topics covered are quite basic, but then again, I wasn’t expecting an in-depth analysis of obscure genres or something like that.
Overall, we both really enjoyed it. The exhibition itself is not that big, taking up one floor of the building. It really doesn’t take too long to get around, and that’s even with reading all the panels. For even a casual manga fan, it’s unlikely you’ll learn anything you didn’t already know. But for me, it was just a chance to introduce my friend to one of my hobbies, and also to check out some really cool pictures, posters, installations, etc. And ultimately, it was something fun and different to do on a Saturday morning. My favourite section was the Action section, containing paraphernalia from the likes of Akira and Ghost In The Shell. I particularly loved the huge Stand Alone Complex wall banner.
And I’m sure that some Japan-o-philes will want to head across the road from the Urbis to Wagamama and have some Japanese-style cuisine. We did, and it was great. (We were a little bit annoyed at being asked for I.D. at the age of 22, but that’s another story!).
So a trip to the Urbis makes for a good day out if you’re at a loose end. It seems that there are some events coming up, including regular anime film screening, a discussion on Osamu Tezuka from Helen McCarthy, and Kamishibai Paper Theatre event. The exhibition itself is open until Sept. 27 this year.