June 10, 2005
One of the great things about anime is the wide variety of subject matter, and I confess that I'm usually surprised whenever read people's (often disparaging) comments about "typical" anime or the "requisite elements" of anime.

Then I remember that most people aren't really exposed to the different kinds of anime out there. Which is one reason I'm enthusiastic about an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Right now, of course, there's the exhibition of Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata works, which has been running for a week and ends June 30. But New Yorkers will barely have time to catch their breath before the two-month exhibition titled "Anime!!" starts on July 10.

The tentative schedule for "Anime!!" features TV, theatrical and OAV titles from 1963 to 2005. (The 1963 entry is, of course, the first episode of Tetsuwan Atomu, otherwise known as Astroboy.) The lineup is simply fantastic: some of the usual suspects (Akira, Dragonball, Ghost in the Shell) are there, as well as some of the modern classics that were merrily passed around during the heyday of anime fandom (Robot Carnival, Ranma 1/2) and current faves (Samurai Champloo, Fooly Cooly, Rurouni Kenshin).

But what's really interesting are the lesser-known, but still important titles. For instance, there's Doraemon: Nobita and the Dinosaur Knights, a 1989 movie based on the long-running TV series. Doraemon doesn't get much press over here, but in a certain sense it's like the Scooby-Doo of anime: it's for kids and it's been around for decades, giving it inter-generational iconic status. Likewise, there are shows like Crayon Shin-chan, Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix, and Ashita no Joe. The exhibition is capped off with the Western premiere of Mind Game.

If I had unlimited funds and plenty of time, this is the kind of anime exhibit I would put on. (Though I would also include more manga-like works like Belladonna and Band of Ninja, noirish movies like Golgo 13, epics like Arion and Dagger of Kamui, and genre-bending shows like Gasaraki. An episode of Lupin III wouldn't hurt, either.)

The MoMA website doesn't have any information up yet, but when one is available you'll likely find it on their list of Film and Media Exhibitions.

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