Manga is a form of popular entertainment that’s produced fast and cheaply. While this makes it accessible to all, it also makes it difficult to preserve manga drawings with high art value. “Original manga drawings are susceptible to degradation over time. The paper-bonded dialogue typeface becomes discolored, the dye ink color work fades, and the tape to which the tracing paper was attached deteriorates and peels off,” according to Shueisha, the iconic manga publisher.

In 2007, Shueisha launched the Comics Digital Archives (CDA), which is a digital archive of its manga. It also established the Shueisha Manga-Art Heritage “to pass down the art of manga to the next generation with the help of digital technology.” The website was then launched on March 1, 2021. It became Shueisha’s first cross-border e-commerce service, selling manga art worldwide.

shueisha gallery manga art

Photo by Zoria P.K.

Shueisha Manga-Art Heritage Gallery

On November 24, 2023, Shueisha Manga-Art Heritage opened its first brick-and-mortar gallery as part of the Azabudai Hills complex. So far, it has held exhibitions of manga drawings from One Piece and Bleach, as well as The Rose of Versailles and The Window of Orpheus by Riyoko Ikeda.

Shueisha Manga-Art Heritage has also held manga exhibitions abroad, including one for Tite Kubo in New York last year and another for Keiichi Tanaami in Los Angeles last month.

High-Quality Prints From Iconic Manga

There have, of course, been many exhibitions dedicated to manga and anime, curating original sketches and drawings and letting viewers see behind the scenes. Where the new Shueisha Manga-Art Heritage gallery differs is its goal to produce collectible artworks from popular manga that are printed on high-quality materials. The works are printed with light-resistant pigmented ink on archival 100% cotton paper used in museum collections. “Supervised by the manga artists themselves, we deliver uncompromising works of art using the best materials and technology available today,” Shueisha Manga-Art Heritage states.

The monochrome prints are made using a rare Heidelberg printing press from the 1960s. It has always been the preferred method for printing manga by Shueisha, but it’s gotten rarer over the years. “There are only two machines in Tokyo we use,” the staff at Shueisha Manga-Art Heritage gallery tell us. Shueisha Manga Art Heritage’s website states that, “this method produces a completely unique page surface with a physical effect that is impossible to achieve using offset printing, lithography, or silkscreen printing.”

Furthermore, as the prints are produced in a limited number, their value increases. Shueisha Manga-Art Heritage says that it uses “an art blockchain network to keep these assets secure and manage their historical information.” This is a system akin to the one used for NFT (non-fungible token) art. The lucky few who purchase a print will receive a certificate included in the box. Finally, the prints are hand-signed and sealed by the artist.

The lounge opposite the gallery. (c)2023, Eiichiro Oda / Shueisha Inc. All rights reserved.

Gallery Information and Where to Purchase Manga Art

The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m, and is closed on Mondays. Entry is free.

Prospective buyers need to book entry to the lounge opposite the gallery to view prints up close and ask the staff questions.

Occasionally, some prints can be bought online, by anyone within Japan or abroad. The items are shipped internationally as well. You need to register an account to apply. More details of the artworks, as well as prices are only available to registered members.

For more information, check the gallery’s official website.

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