In Japan, anime, manga and video games generate their own live shows from radio to musicals and the 2.5D theatre brand is ever growing; part of the broad media mix that carries a popular franchise across every potential platform. Fans are as eager to see these performances as to play the game, buy the novelisation or collect the toys. In the West, Japanese franchises have yet to make real inroads on the stage. But looking at the history of Western fandom and the growing interest in East-Asian entertainment, there are signs that the balance is beginning to shift. As anime becomes more accessible and mainstream, its potential in UK theatre becomes exciting. Theatre faces a challenge to become more diverse, accessible and inclusive; by bringing “high” and “low” art together, 2.5D challenges theatre to break barriers, attract a new audience and create opportunities for British East-Asian artists.
About the contributors
Helen McCarthy has been studying and writing about anime and manga since 1981, with thirteen books in seven languages. Her published work includes the first book on anime in English, the shortest ever history of manga, respected critical biographies of Osamu Tezuka and Hayao Miyazaki, and co-authorship of the major reference work The Anime Encyclopedia. Helen has curated a number of ground-breaking anime seasons at London’s Barbican Cinema, lectured on anime in schools, colleges and libraries across Europe, Asia and the USA, and is a regular speaker at anime conventions. Her work has been honoured with a number of awards including the Japan Festival Award and the Eisner Award. She is also a poet, textile artist and costume historian.
Alexandra Rutter is Resident Director at Nelke Planning, Tokyo and Company Director of Whole Hog Theatre where she creates Anglo-Japanese collaborative adaptations in the UK and Japan. She studied Theatre at the University of Warwick, was a Daiwa Scholar (2015) and an Asiatic Society of Japan 2018 Young Scholar. Her work has featured in The Wall Street Journal and The Japan Times, and her directing début at 21 was a National Student Drama Festival Award-Winner. In 2013, with the kind permission of Studio Ghibli, she directed Princess Mononoke: the world’s only adaptation of a Hayao Miyazaki film, a sell out in 4.5 hours in London and playing to over 10,000 people in Tokyo. Alex was most recently Creative Director on the 2.5D production of “Magia Record” (Madoka Magica Franchise) in Tokyo. She also designs puppets and studies Butoh Dance and Japanese stage sword fighting.