As a fan of japanese animation since middle school (when I was a horrible nerd, even more so than today), it's interesting to see modern anime versus its beginnings, as well as the impact it's had on both western culture and its own. That being said, it's especially fascinating seeing contemporary artist Takashi Murakami's commentary on these cultural phenomena, and more specifically the anime-derived genre of "Superflat".
It's difficult to approach the topic of Murakami's art, because he seeks to redefine what art really is in the eyes of western culture. His work both pays homage and scathingly mocks the brightly colored, highly sexualized and super deformed imagery that has become so iconic in Japanese animation and the various byproducts that flood the market. The superficial and extremely graphic style is certainly eye-catching and bold, and he's often praised as a pioneer of bringing down the wall between what is considered low art (animation, illustration and graphic design) and high art (painting, drawing, sculpting and other romantic pursuits).
Murakami is slowly becoming a household name, his work featured in gallery and museum of the highest caliber, and his Superflat campaign is sparking worthwhile discussion amongst artists and spectators alike-- why is animation "low art"? Who purported it as such, and why have these notions survived for so long? Can seemingly completely superficial and empty work be considered art, and can it even be deconstructed? Is it worth the effort?
This sort of work is extremely exciting to me. Speaking of which, a good friend of mine and fellow blogger Eric Shorey will be doing a panel at the upcoming convention, Anime Boston, about Murakami and the art of Superflat. He's an intensely talented writer and I look forward to the fabulous irony of a discussion of an art form that mocks the very subject that the convention celebrates.