All Your Cels Belong to Japan

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Akage
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All Your Cels Belong to Japan

Post by Akage »

I'm sure some of you have seen this article by now, but just in case - https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2 ... an/.126160

In short, the Japanese government is debating passing a bill to prevent foreigners from buying/exporting cels, shikishi and other original manga/anime artwork because this is a 'national treasure'. They also want to create a museum to showcase this artwork, possibly in the Akihabara district in Tokyo.


I mentioned this on ANN, but trying to recover and prevent anime/manga production artwork from leaving Japan is like trying to get the cattle back into the pen after they've been gone for 2 decades. Why didn't the government consider this artwork a national treasure back when studios like Madhouse were selling their vaulted artwork to stay financially afloat or the glut of Inuyasha cels that were around in 2008? Companies like Mandarake have been selling cels and other artwork for years, often for just a couple hundred yen. I also can't imagine that Japan wants everything; There are too many in-between cels and random body part layers that would be of little interest to anyone.

The cel group that I'm a member of has been fretting what all of this could potentially mean. The only problem I could see is that Mandarake will no longer be able to sell directly to foreigners and that you'll have to go through a deputy service when buying artwork. However, preventing ownership of artwork seems impossible unless Japan is willing to hire enough Customs officials to check every package and suitcase departing their country. If anything, what I could see happening is that the government or an affiliated party will contact foreign collectors and offer to buy items from their collection. I can't see them trying to take collectors to court to demand that an entire collection is returned to Japan. The legal fees, in addition to the funds needed to pay for translators to act as intermediaries between the government and whatever legal counsel is obtained, would not be worth it.

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karageko
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Re: All Your Cels Belong to Japan

Post by karageko »

Holy crap I dunno how I missed this one. Thanks for making the thread here. Hopefully it doesn't go anywhere or at the very least, there are enough proxy services willing to ignore this.
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Re: All Your Cels Belong to Japan

Post by _D_ »

Sorry, not selling my signed, limited edition Shigeru Mizuki English language book back to the Japanese. That was given to me as a gift from both Mizuki and Yoshihiro Yonezawa who was attending the same convention...

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Akage
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Re: All Your Cels Belong to Japan

Post by Akage »

^ I don't think they're interested in buying signed goods. What they want is the primo stuff, like really nice hanken cels (artwork used for VHS/DVD covers and other commercial goods), complete key set-ups with matching backgrounds and fully colored, hand drawn sketches. They want the Ghibli and Evangelion cels that have sold on Mandarake for $10K+ because these are the items that would draw people in to a museum and convince the tax paying public that the good stuff really has gone abroad.

I don't know how far reaching Japanese law is, but it does make me wonder if the Japanese government could, under the guise of repatriation of its national treasures, obtain access to Mandarake's sales records. It'll be interesting to see if this not only passes, but how it'll play out.

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Re: All Your Cels Belong to Japan

Post by DKop »

So what your saying is they are legalizing art? I don't see how this can go through the law and be passed (oh wait, I gotta remember that this isn't the American government in action, but the Japanese one, this outta be interesting).

The sale of Japanese art from cels, ukiyo-e and other antiquities has been circulated across the world for over 100 years, an now this is becoming some issue? I'm all for them hosting a museum for this stuff, but trying to control the open market and retailers that sell them in the states isn't likely to go well or even happen. This is going to put people like Anime Asulym outta business, but Kurt probably would be the kinda guy who just wouldn't care and still get cels since that's one of his main money makers. I'd like to see what the art community has to say about this, since I consider cel trading a new renaissance of japonesme.

As far as "demanding to take collectors cels away," this stuff isn't tracked like people who own firearms in America that the federal government doesn't know about. The only way they can go after people is if they are a well known collector or seller of cels, or if people in the community rat them out to the Japanese government, which is just way to big a hassle. This would be on a courtesy of "please give us back your collection, it would mean a lot to us" type of situation. This is just so bizarre that they care about it now when cels were always regarded as trash after animation studios were done with them since they were only valuable to people wanted them. So no, the Japanese gov'ment wont take my cels away!!

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Re: All Your Cels Belong to Japan

Post by davemerrill »

I think a big museum for animation art, cels, and manga artwork is a great idea. That part of the bill is great. The other part, the "preventing foreign buyers" part, sounds unenforceable to me.

I mean, come on. There are zillions of cels. Some of them are amazing singular works of art, and others are Background Character #6, not exactly essential pieces of anyone's canon.

Sure, I can see wanting to keep key Ghibli artwork or Tezuka originals in the country. Perhaps they can create a specific category of "cultural treasure" works that can get protected status. That's more practical than a blanket prohibition.

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Re: All Your Cels Belong to Japan

Post by _D_ »

Akage wrote:^ I don't think they're interested in buying signed goods. What they want is the primo stuff, like really nice hanken cels (artwork used for VHS/DVD covers and other commercial goods), complete key set-ups with matching backgrounds and fully colored, hand drawn sketches. They want the Ghibli and Evangelion cels that have sold on Mandarake for $10K+ because these are the items that would draw people in to a museum and convince the tax paying public that the good stuff really has gone abroad.

I don't know how far reaching Japanese law is, but it does make me wonder if the Japanese government could, under the guise of repatriation of its national treasures, obtain access to Mandarake's sales records. It'll be interesting to see if this not only passes, but how it'll play out.
That book has a figure of Nezumi Otoko drawn in the inside front cover. I saw a signed Mizuki on a website out of Japan years ago where the asking price was something like $8,000! Now with Mizuki dead, how would a collector go about getting signed artwork originals?

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Akage
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Re: All Your Cels Belong to Japan

Post by Akage »

_D_ wrote:That book has a figure of Nezumi Otoko drawn in the inside front cover. I saw a signed Mizuki on a website out of Japan years ago where the asking price was something like $8,000! Now with Mizuki dead, how would a collector go about getting signed artwork originals?
Mandarake's Big Web Auction. Original sketches from Tezuka show up all the time during Big Web Auction and he's been dead for years.

In regards to collectibles and artwork, I'd never equate anything I see online as being the value of something that I own. People ask stupid prices on eBay all the time for Beanie Babies and whatever else they own. That does not mean that it's worth that much. It's only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.

I think a visual example might be necessary here. For the most part, the quick convention sketches and 90% of all cels out there are not what this museum (or the Japanese government) would be interested in buying. That's not the sort of thing that people would travel worldwide to see, nor would it be something that they could use to prove their point that the foreigners own all the good stuff. This is the caliber of stuff that they want -

Image

This cel sold on Mandarake in November 2015 for approximately $38K.

Image

This sketch sold on Mandarake in July 2016 for approximately $250K.

They want the best of the best. They want key cels that have properly cared for, that come with their matching backgrounds and feature the main characters from important moments in a famous movie/series. They want vibrant, dynamic original sketches drawn by famous artists from well known series that have been well preserved. So, for the most part, the majority of collectors are safe in terms of the Japanese government wanting their collection. Most people don't own anything near this caliber and from the series/artists that would be in high demand.

I don't think it'll be all doom and gloom for Anime Asylum. While Kurt has some ok stuff, he's not selling cels of this caliber simply because most people won't drop $10K+ on one cel. A lot of his supply comes from private collectors, both in Japan and in the US, who sell them items that they no longer want.

Should this law pass, the only winner will be the deputy service.

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Re: All Your Cels Belong to Japan

Post by _D_ »

...and to think I could have had original Jack Kirby artwork from his inker Mike Royer back in 1980 if i had but given up my old VHS tapes of Dr. Who. But who knew the series would become as popular as it did? Not me. At the time, the show aired only once and the episodes I had from Canadian airings were unavailable in the US. What does Kirby artwork go for these days?

Haven't seen too many original Tezuka sketches. Dunno if my friend in Minneapolis ever got a sketch from Tezuka. Maybe Fred Patten did. Got several things autographed by Tezuka though. Cels DO make nice wall hangings though I've never framed any of mine nor hung them on the walls.

Convention sketches in Japan started when? I never knew anyone back in the day who ever got one. Usually the manga artists showed up at a high school for a talk to the students (back in the 1980s understand) but weren't handing out sketches willy nilly like they did at U.S. conventions back in the 90s. Otherwise i should have been able to get a ton of them from my contact who got me just about everything else, including many cels (no Miyazaki alas). But they also used to sell a lot of promotional cels through stores. Those were not production cels from TV show episodes.

Anyway, good luck to the Japanese gov't getting back anything from foreign collectors since that would be outside their jurisdiction.

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Re: All Your Cels Belong to Japan

Post by PinkAppleJam »

I can understand the intent, but the practicality of execution does not seem viable at all, as mentioned above. I'll be watching how this pans out with huge interest. Just seems to want to raise the barrier between Japan and the rest of the world again :(

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