As Tokyo prepares to host the world at next summer’s Olympic Games — with a new tourism ad campaign of Asian art and antiques juxtaposed with contemporary art — visitors will be struck by the importance of animation art, or anime, in the bustling Asian city.
For collectors, anime has a long history and great appeal. While the first Japanese animated film, “The Story of the Concierge Mukuzo Imokawa,” was produced by Hekoten Shimokawa in 1917, the popular animated TV series called “Astro Boy,” by Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989, aka “The Father of Manga”), prompted the rise of commercial animation in Japan with its initial 1963 broadcast.
Through the late 20th century, original Japanese anime was based on comics and fairy tales like Anpanman, Crayon Shin-chan and Space Battleship Yamato, among others. The 1990s saw animation change from cel to digital animation techniques with recent examples like “Knights of Sidonia” and “Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter. “
Over the last 10 years, full-length feature animated films were all the rage, like “Detective Conan” and “Your Name” crushing box office sales records.
In 2017, Japanese animation earned almost 1 trillion Japanese yen or nearly $9.3 trillion U.S. dollars in the world market, thus making the animated art form a major player in providing entertaining TV and internet content worldwide.
For collectors, anime collectibles are doing well in the marketplace both nationally in Japan and on the international market.
For instance, a signed original illustration drawing in marker of Tezuka’s “Astro Boy,” circa 1980, sells for $5,000. Other collectibles from a pair of sneakers to figures in mixed media range in value from $500 to $2,500.
For instance, a 2012 “Astro Boy” (Gray) painted cast vinyl figure by the designer KAWS — in its original box. by Medicom Toy and OriginalFake of Tokyo — sold for $2,600 in a Chicago auction recently.
If you are a visitor to Tokyo, you will have no problem experiencing anime. I was excited by the anime I experienced when I visited.
Actually, anime is basically everywhere. From public monuments like the Mobile Suit Gundam bronze statue near Kami-Igusa station to the GeGeGe no Kitaro tea shop near the entry gate at Jindai-ji Temple, animation art is highlighted throughout the city.
Many enjoy the theme park world of Hello Kitty at Sanrio Puroland and the Hello Kitty and Shimajiro monuments at Tama Center Shimajiro Square, complete with related manhole cover designs featuring Hello Kitty holding an umbrella.
Artists worldwide have made the famous Japanese anime “Hello Kitty” a household name.
A Tom Sach sculpture from 2001 depicts a seated Hello Kitty made of bondo, acrylic and ink on bronze, signed and numbered in an edition of 25. It sold for $20,000 at auction in New York City.
If this is out of your price range, get your hands on a serial animated colored newsprint magazine from any Tokyo convenience store, which will only set you back a few dollars.
With a Ph. D. from Penn State, Dr. Lori Verderame is an award-winning antiques appraiser on History channel's hit show “The Curse of Oak Island” — hightlighting the world's oldest treasure hunt — and on “Doctor & the Diva.” For information about your antiques and collectibles, visit www.DrLoriV.com and www.YouTube.com/DrLoriV.