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THE WORLD OF SEIZO WATASE
A manga Artist in the realm of Fine Art
DOIZAKI GALLERY AT THE JAPANESE AMERICAN CULTURAL & COMMUNITY CENTER - APRIL 21, MAY 17 1998
Photos and text by Mark Vallen. Posted April 1998.
Main exhibit room with banner hanging from the ceiling
Everywhere in the Little Tokyo area of downtown Los Angeles you could see the posters announcing the upcoming art exhibit. The colorful posters of Seizo Watase were on display in storefronts and at kiosks for more than a month, and the community was abuzz with expectant conversation. This was the first time any mangaka (manga artist) was to have a major exhibition in the United States. The exhibit at the Doizaki Gallery was an important breakthrough for the art of anime and manga in the U.S., and having one of L.A.'s cultural institutions recognize a manga artist lent an air of legitimacy and prestige to the artform.

Very large and beautiful wall hangings of Seizo-san's images were hung from the ceiling. Byobu (traditional folding screens), made from the artist's silkscreen prints were on display, as were over one hundred works spanning the career of the artist. Display cases held numerous examples of the artist's manga production methods. It was fascinating to see the rough pencil sketches and first ink outlines, the addition of colors with inks, marker pens, colored pencils, and the final finished printed manga.

A folding screen painted with the artist's work
Just some of the crowd who enjoyed the art
The exhibition presented works the artist created for a multitude of purposes. Seizo-san has made illustrations for magazines, books, advertisements, C.D. covers, and the like. His romantic series Heart Cocktail sold over 5 million copies, but it's the artworks from his manga, Sai that captured my imagination. I found "Sai" to be most endearing and it's not at all surprising to find out how popular the series is amongst grown ups in Japan. To see five select images from "Sai" just click on the gallery button directly below.
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