The Art of Japanese Paper Theatre
written by Eric Peter Nash
Harry N Abrams | ISBN 9780810953031
Hardback – 304 pages
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"Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater" is the first book of its kind to examine the origin of the modern manga phenomenon. Kamishibai (paper theatre) is a fascinating and nearly vanished Japanese art form that paved the way for modern-day comic books and is central to the phenomenon of manga. During the height of kamishibai in the 1930s, the gaito kamishibaya (street-corner storyteller) acted as an entertainer and reporter, gathering residents of local towns for the much-anticipated picture show - which was economically backed by selling candy, roasted chestnuts, and sweet potatoes to the children. Typically the storyteller would travel to several villages during the day and set up his butai, (a miniature wooden proscenium), through which the illustrated boards were shown. The stories that were depicted ranged from action-packed westerns, period pieces, traditional folk tales, and melodramas, to nightly news reporting on World War II. More than just illustrated pictures, a good storyteller would act out the parts of each character with different voices and facial expressions. As television was introduced to Japan, the art of kamishibai died out; its influence, however, can still be seen in modern pop culture - from videogames to manga comics. Author Eric P. Nash conducted years of extensive research, and was granted unprecedented access to little-known archives of kamishibai in Tokyo. With rare images and expert writing, this book will easily become an essential guide to the origins of manga and its history.