Comicana Festival: Junko Mizuno Q&A in London! by Aisha Anime

junko foyles

FIne art and manga fans would have tracked done this intimate event arranged by Comica Festival at Foyles Charring Cross road. On Wednesday 22nd October 2014 for an hour and a half we listened to comics artist, publisher and curator Jason Atomic talk to Junko about her career.

Moving from Tokyo to San Francisco, Mizuno has become a global sensation, which was helped by endorsement from Jonathan Ross on his show Japanorama. We celebrated her signature 'creepy cute' blend of art and manga. Her dark-erotic re-tellings of familiar fairytales like Hansel and Gretel, Cinderalla gained her respect and she moved on to Music posters, music art, sculptures at the recent Hello Kitty catwalk and now has completed her EU revamp of her graphic novel Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu.

food junko

Part of Comica Festival 2014, Mizuno spoke with Jason Atomic about her dabbles in different projects. She despised her art being branded as 'grotesque kawaii' and was not afraid to move from manga to fine art and sculptures. Starting off at Japan's famous Comicket to being interviewed by Jonathan Ross she has come along way and eventually moved to the USA for more jobs.

The Q&A was opened up to the floor and the audience asked things like what is your favourite subject to draw and Junko explained food and when she was commissioned to do gig posters without a doubt she would add in food no matter the idea. Her art took up to three weeks but since she got bored easily she took breaks often, hid her work from sight so she always looked at it with fresh eyes. What was really inspiring was she spoke about what came to mind she drew to paper straight away there was never a plan of what she would draw. Whatever she began drawing she would add things along the way.

A great one off event worth the ticket price to meet one of the reasons I was drawn to Manga.

Follow Comica Festival for more events -

See Junko's  Art and projects -

~Aisha Anime~

junko me

Belle: The Art of Junko Mizuno (London Exhibition) by Aisha Anime

jm belle poster

Atomica Gallery, in association with Comica Festival, present Belle: The Art of Junko Mizuno, a retrospective solo exhibition from celebrated Japanese artist Junko Mizuno. Bringing together a collection of original paintings, rare limited edition prints, iconic silk-screen gig posters and other works from throughout her career, Belle is the first ever showing of Mizuno’s work in London and a rare opportunity for British audiences to view and purchase work from the cult artist.

Born in Japan and currently residing in San Francisco, USA, Mizuno is a self-taught artist who is recognized for her unique style erotic female and food imagery. Juxtaposing childlike cuteness and horror,  in remales of Cindella, Hansel & Gretal...

swanns jm

An accomplished manga graphic novelist, Mizuno has published numerous books. She has created artwork for bands such as The Melvins, Faith No More and Mudhoney, designed vinyl figures for Kidrobot and animated the titles for Jonathan Ross’s BBC TV series Japanorama. She has previously exhibited in cities worldwide including Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Tokyo, Paris, Milan, Barcelona, Berlin and Rome.

There were also some if her originals, prints and other items at the gallery for sale - of which three Jonathan Ross snapped up!

Atomica Gallery, 29 Shorts Gardens, was the prefect venue to house all Junko's beautiful pieces. Now Atomica Gallery has moved to Soho -

7 Greens Court
Soho, London, W1F 0HQ

Follow there website for more exhibitions there:

vomit jm

Barefoot Gen by Aisha Anime

Barefoot Gen

Released: 1983
Director: Mori Masaki
Running time: 83 minutes
Genres: Anime, Japanese, War film, history

The Japan Foundation have hosted their venue to show a mix of contemporary and old movies that made a comment on Japanese history and society. I made a point to watching this anime because of the artist of the original manga.

Barefoot Gen originally was a Japanese manga series by Keiji Nakazawa. Loosely based on Nakazawa's own experiences as a Hiroshima survivor. The film follows the perspective of six-year-old boy Gen Nakaoka, who lives in poverty with his family. The film sets up the scene of them working laboriously in the fields tending to the wheat fields to make wheat flour and sell for money in order to buy food. 

It is sad to see that Gen nor his siblings eat and anything that is available must be saved for his mother who is pregnant. This is possibly the most depressing part that they are all struggling let along with a baby on the way. 

barefoot gen family

With an almost miscarriage, Gen does everything he can to help his family, not out of choice but necessity, if he can't who can? One of my favourite moments is when Gen and his brother sneak into a house to catch a carp to feed their mother to help her and the baby grow strong, they are caught by the owner and beaten but Gen gives a heart felt plea for his mother and insists he is beaten until he is allowed to keep the carp. The guy is shocked and lets them keep the carp

After many warning shots, one day on his way to school the inevitable happens and Hiroshima is destroyed by atom bomb. The animation used to show this is amazing. We see a girl near him, layer by layer being disintegrated from her clothes to her skin melting to his limbs being ripped off to her socks exploding and ashes. Gen is one of the lucky survivors, as most has been burt and mutated and are referred to as 'Ghosts'.

Now begins the struggle of not only poverty but the loss of his father, brother and sister, this was morbid to see them crushed but this was the reality of the situation. We hardly see relationships explored in the anime, as their simply was no time. Buildings are burning, they are looking for food, you look after your own and that is all. I would of liked to have known more about the doctor, the neighbors or the man with the carps but this anime was not slice of life.

Scenes of dead bodies, children, people monopolizing food follow however things do pan out and they gain shelter and Gen even finds his little brother's look a alike, Ryuto who they decide to adopt. Tomoko, his newborn sister is a ray of light. Gen and Ryuto looks for work to buy food and milk for the family especially Tomoko A man hires Gen to look after his brother Seiji, who has been burnt from head to toe and lives in filth as people refuse to clean him or stay within close proximity of him. We see his develop from a bitter human being with no interest in living or respect for the kids, who eventually warms up to the kids who bother to spend time with him and look after him. Seiji learns to paint with his teeth and gains joy for his hobby again. The kids leave with money to support themselves and he is left happy and with anew motivation to live despite his state.

Sadly things take a turn for the worse and all the aid comes too late and Tomoko dies from her rashes and undernourishment. The family pull together and carry on. 

This was a real eye opener to the tragedies of war, radioactive rain which helped kjill people further the Piku disease which could infect healthy people and kill the mass population. The Film ends where it began with the wheat. This was a great choice for the Japan Foundation to show as it was neutral  and did not pick sides of the Japanese or Americans.

For more information on the Japan Foundation and future film screenings go here

barefoot gen death