At The House Of Illustration – Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan

The first UK exhibition of illustrations for Ghost in the Shell and other sci-fi anime films

Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan


This is the UK’s first ever exhibition of handmade background illustrations for classic sci-fi anime films. It will feature drawings and paintings from some of the most influential productions in the genre’s 1990s heyday, including Production I.G’s phenomenally influential 1995 film Ghost in the Shell.

The artists, whose work presents convincing visions of future worlds, have had a defining influence on the style of anime we think of as typical today.

The show will include Hiromasa Ogura’s watercolour paintings for Ghost in the Shell, an anime epic that informed pioneering sci-fi works such as The Matrix and Avatar. Inspired by Asia’s emerging megacities and based on photographs of Hong Kong, Ogura’s work depicts the striking contrast between a derelict Chinese town and ruthless urban development.

Pencil drawings by Takashi Watabe – one of the most important Japanese illustrators of his generation – for 2008’s sequel Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence will also feature. His meticulously realistic style has become a hallmark of Japanese anime films as a whole.

The exhibition will also include work from Patlabor: The Movie (1989) and Metropolis (2001), by Mamoru Oshii and Atsushi Takeuchi.

Since the success of Akira (1988) and Ghost in the Shell, Japanese anime films have been at the heart of global pop culture. A live action remake of Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson was released in March.

In association with Les Jardins des Pilotes, Berlin.

Colin McKenzie, Director of House of Illustration, said: “We are delighted to be bringing this extraordinary body of work to the UK for the first time, showcasing a group of artists who have not only had a definitive impact on the influential world of anime, but whose work has also inspired artists across popular culture.”

Background illustration for Ghost in the Shell (1995), cut 477, watercolour on paper and acrylic on transparent film, 270 x 390 mm, by Hiromasa Ogura © 1995 Shirow Masamune / KODANSHA · BANDAI VISUAL · MANGA ENTERTAINMANT Ltd.

Concept Deisgn for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004), pencil on paper, 176 x 250mm, by Takashi Watabe © 2004 Shirow Masamune / KODANSHA · IG, ITNDDTD


Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan
26 May – 10 September 2017
Main Gallery at House of Illustration, 2 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London N1C 4BH.

Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm. Closed Mondays.
Admission (one ticket gives admission to all three galleries) £8.25 inc gift aid.

Exhibitions currently on:
Jo Brocklehurst: Nobodies & Somebodies (until 14 May 2017)
Quentin Blake: The Life of Birds (until 1 October 2017)
Nous Vous: Three Men in a Boat (until 11 June 2017)

020 3696 2020,, @illustrationHQ.


Mamoru Oshii (b.1951 in Tokyo) is one of the most influential directors in Japan. His films Patlabor: The Movie, Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence have been instrumental in anime’s influence internationally. The background is the most important layer in Oshii’s cinematic vision; he begins the production process by drawing the entire storyboard himself then coordinates a creative team. Material sanctioned by Oshii is marked with his signature dog’s head stamp.

Hiromasa Ogura (b. 1954 in Tokyo) was instrumental in early anime hits such as The Wings of Honneamise (1987), and worked closely with Mamoru Oshii on backgrounds for Patlabor: The Movie and Ghost in the Shell. Having been Head of the Art Department at Production I.G for 12 years, Ogura now runs Ogura Koubo, which specialises in the manufacture of hand-painted backgrounds. His style is characterised by his painterly technique.

Takashi Watabe (b. 1959 in Niigata) is one of the most important illustrators of his generation and the architect of successes like Akira, Patlabor: The Movie, Ghost in the Shell and Neon Genesis Evangelion (2007, 2009). His mechanical designs and attention to detail have become a hallmark of Japanese anime films as a whole.

House of Illustration is the UK’s only public gallery and education space dedicated solely to illustration, with a creative programme of exhibitions, talks and events. Founded by Sir Quentin Blake in the heart of the King’s Cross regeneration area, it is the place to enjoy and learn about illustration in all its forms. A registered charity, House of Illustration identifies and promotes new talent, commissions new work and has an learning programme for all ages delivered by professional illustrators.

Les Jardins des Pilotes is a Berlin gallery dedicated to the presentation and production of outstanding pieces of art, whether as installations, performances, solo and group exhibitions, or publications. This exhibition is curated by Stefan Riekeles, one of the two founding members.

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