Suginami Animation Museum
The Anime Neighborhood
Suginami Animation Museum is located in the eponymous ward, in the north-west of Tokyo. Opened in 2005, its gallery recounts the history of the art of Japanese animation: from the studios to the TV broadcasting of the most popular series, the making of an anime and the portrayal of the greatest directors.
Located in the west of Tokyo and at the eastern limit of Mitaka, Suginami ward is crossed by rivers Kandagawa and Zenpukuji. The neighborhood seems quiet at first sight, but the characteristic of the ward is to shelter a large number of animation studios. Indeed, of the 400 studios throughout the country, Suginami gathers no less than 70 of them. Among the most famous are: Satelight (Macross), Sunrise (Gundam), Bones (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood), Shaft (Bakemonogatari), Mappa (Jujutsu Kaisen) and many more.
Yet, the area is so ordinary and quiet than one could not possibly imagine that countless skilled directors and animators are thriving in the heart of this city. it would be a shame to visit such a place without having an opportunity to learn more about the animation industry. Unlike Ghibli Museum, that is solely dedicated to the studio’s productions, the famous Suginami Animation Museum offers to discover the history of animation, and more precisely of animated series.
The museum is directed by Shin'ichi Suzuki, a former animator who lived in the same boarding house as Osamu Tezuka in his beginnings: the Tokiwa-so. He drew manga with Shotaro Ishinomori and the Fujiko Fujio duet. Later, he turned towards animation when working with Ryoichi Yokoyama in Otogi studio. Then, he used all his knowledge to help his old friends of Tokiwa-so to found the studio Zero, one of the first sub-contractors studios that worked with Tezuka to produce one episode of Astroboy as soon as 1964!
A museum divided in three parts
The main part describes the history of animation, with large windows enclosing a historical timeline with a lot of explanations and figurines of iconic characters, from Atom (Astroboy) to Pikachu, or Doraemon and Lupin the 3rd. At the entrance and near the pillars are also small statues of characters from The Genie Family / Bob In A Bottle (Hakushon Daimaô) and the famous RX-78 02 from the Gundam franchise.
Then, a space is dedicated to show the creation process of an anime. The animators’ working spaces as well as many original images are put on display. A little bit further, a small recording studio was arranged: visitors can try to be a dubbing actor (seiyû) for one day and record their voice thanks to the provided microphone and screen. Upstairs is an exhibition of original images (keyframes, in-betweens, storyboard, etc.) whose thematic is changed every two to three months.
The last part is a small library. However, except for a few picture books and the manga collection, solid Japanese language skills are necessary to enjoy the museum to the fullest.