Manga present at the Tokyo Games

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Manga present at the Tokyo Games
  • The world of manga appears at the Tokyo Olympics.
  • First transgender athlete to compete representing New Zealand in weightlifting.
  • Some swirling drawings with the five rings of the Olympic Games is the form that a protest against the Olympics takes.

TOKYO (AP) – Athletes from the Tokyo Olympics delved into the Japanese world of comics and graphic novels when manga was featured prominently at the opening ceremony on Friday. The signs with the names of the countries in the parade of athletes were shaped like speech bubbles and the costumes of the assistants had touches of manga in their design.

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Manga is the word used to refer to Japanese comic books and graphic novels, while anime – another popular form of Japanese art – refers to animated stories. Manga is a Japanese word that means playful pictures. Manga is read from right to left and is almost always published in black and white, according to a 2018 New York Public Library article. They have numerous genres and subgenres designed for all types of people, ages, and backgrounds.

The history of the manga

A pencil cartoonist working on a manga in Tokyo

The manga dates back to the 12th century when Buddhist monks created scrolls depicting animals behaving like humans, according to a 2020 Pittsburgh Carnegie Library article. The artists who create manga are known as mangaka, with the most famous being Osamu Tezuka (“Astro Boy”), Akira Toriyama (“Dragon Ball”) and Naoko Takeuchi (“Sailor Moon”). Tezuka, who passed away in 1989 at age 60, is dubbed the “father of manga,” and compared to American animator Walt Disney.

The use of manga in the opening ceremony comes at a time when Japanese comics and graphic novels have become popular in the world alongside anime. Susan Napier, a professor of rhetoric and Japanese studies at Tufts University, told The Washington Post that the Olympics could make them even more popular. “People will be curious,” he said. “The style of anime is very distinctive, and if you’re not used to it you’ll say, ‘Wow, what is this? It’s cool. ‘

New Zealand to bring trans weightlifter to Tokyo


WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – Laurel Hubbard lifted 628 pounds (185 kilograms) in two attempts to qualify for the women’s super heavyweight category for the Tokyo Olympics. It is a lot of weight, but nothing to do with the metaphorical load that Hubbard has carried to become the first athlete trans competing in an Olympic Games.

Hubbard was one of five confirmed weight lifters on Monday’s New Zealand squad for Tokyo. At 43 she will be the oldest weight lifter, and fourth classified for the August 2 competition for women starting at 87 kilograms (192 pounds). Hubbard won silver at the 2017 World Cups and gold at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. In 2018 he competed in the Commonwealth Games, but suffered a serious injury that slowed his career.

Controversy and gratitude in Tokyo

An athlete preparing barbell weights

“I am grateful and honored for the kindness and support I have received from so many New Zealanders,” Hubbard said in a statement. “When I broke my arm at the Commonwealth Games three years ago, I was told that my sports career was probably over. But your support, your encouragement and your aroha (love) guided me in the dark ”.

An additional burden on Hubbard is that her efforts have put her at the center of the debate over whether it is fair for trans athletes to compete in women’s categories. He has been the target of outrage and ridicule, and received criticism from some rivals. Hubbard transitioned eight years ago, at 35. Since then he has met all the requirements of the International Olympic Committee on trans athletes and fair competition.

Criticisms of other participants

Hand of a woman before competing in Tokyo

Belgian Anna Vanbellinghen, who will likely compete against Hubbard, said her presence would be “like a bad joke” to the competitors. “I am aware that defining a legal framework for trans participation in sports is very difficult, as there is an infinite variety of situations and it is probably impossible to reach a totally satisfactory solution for all sides of the debate,” said Vanbellinghen.

“However, anyone who has trained in high-level weightlifting knows this to be true: in this particular situation, it is unfair to the sport and to female athletes.” “Of course, this debate takes place in a broader context of discrimination against transgender people, and that is why the issue is never free of ideology,” he added. Other athletes and members of weightlifting federations have claimed that Hubbard has a natural advantage in physiology and strength. Hubbard does not usually give interviews. In 2017, he told the New Zealand website Stuff that his strategy in the face of criticism is to “focus on the task.” “I am aware that I will not have the support of everyone, but I trust that people can be open-minded and see my work in a broader context,” he said. “Perhaps the fact that it took so long for someone like me to arrive indicates that the problems that people suggest are not what they might seem,” he added.

Artists in Tokyo protest the Olympics


TOKYO (AP) – Standing in her studio, Miwako Sakauchi paints swirls on a piece of cardboard and drawing paper using the five colors designated as symbols of the modern Olympics. Titled “Vortex,” her paintings depict “anger, fear, a sense of contradiction and state violence” by evicted residents and trees cut down so that huge Olympic stadiums could be built, the artist said. “I cannot think of this as ‘a festival of peace’ in this situation. It is totally absurd ”.

The majority of the Japanese population opposes holding the Olympic Games in Tokyo next month in a pandemic, the polls, even in spite of the fact that public manifestations of rejection have been scarce. One little-recognized medium in which people have expressed their frustration and fear about the Olympics has been the art.

The protest against the Olympic Games has acquired many forms of expression

A woman painting Olympic Games shapes

T-shirts, drawings and other works have become a form of protest against the decision to host the games despite medical advice and opposition from the population. Authorities have responded in some cases by demanding that the satirical art and merchandise be removed, and artists say their releases are being limited.

“What I can do instead of going to the protests is to use my experience in art,” Sakauchi said of her motivation to create the paintings. He had never participated in street demonstrations or incorporated political issues into his abstract art, but the Tokyo Olympics have been a turning point. The risk of infection by the virus may have prevented skeptics from taking to the streets to express their frustration. Unlike Rio de Janeiro, where thousands marched for weeks against the Summer Olympics in 2016, recent protests in Japan have drawn dozens of people, if anything.

The birth of the works


Sakauchi created the paintings after being contacted by a group of artists who organized an art exhibition against the Olympics last summer. His works were featured in another exhibition in February. Kai Koyama, the show’s main organizer, said it is his professional duty to protest, although he knows that many Japanese are hesitant to openly display their views.

“We are artists, we would not exist if we did not express ourselves,” Koyama, 45, told The Associated Press in an interview. More than 20 artists have come together for the project. Another artist who joined the anti-Olympic exhibition is Sachihiro Ochi, 52, a social worker and doctor at a clinic near Yokohama Stadium where Olympic games of baseball and softball will be played. He said Tokyo and Yokohama, the country’s largest cities, have tightened their policies on homelessness due to the Olympics.

They have tried to censor

Red ribbon depicted censorship in Tokyo

Public spaces, which were once open, are now covered with colored cones and obstacles, he noted. Ochi has tried to illustrate this shift, along with satirical motifs, in his paintings of the marathon and the national stadium. “There are people who lost their jobs and homes during the pandemic,” Ochi said.

Some anti-Olympic art creators say their freedom of expression has been restricted even though their sentiments align with growing public disapproval of the games. Before the pandemic, designer Susumu Kikutake made Olympic Games T-shirts that parodied the bribery and plagiarism scandals that surrounded the event in Tokyo. The comments on the internet were harsh and he only sold about 10 shirts a month.

The virus is not stopping


But in the face of a recent increase in the virus and public concerns, the owner of the P&M T-shirt store in Tokyo said demand has multiplied. It sold 100 T-shirts in April and 250 in May. Kikutake said the increase reflects public resentment against a prolonged state of emergency implemented by the government.

“My children’s sporting events and their school trips have been canceled, and they have forced us to deal with this … but they say they can do the Olympics,” Kikutake said. “It really irritates me that (the prime minister) doesn’t explain why they’re doing the games, and just keeps saying it’s ‘safe.’ The organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympics demanded that Kikutake stop the production of T-shirts over copyright concerns. He released a new design that includes fewer Olympic rings and the spelling “Okyo” instead of Tokyo.

More discontent


Similar attempts to satirize the games have been suppressed by the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, citing copyright violations. The committee told the AP that protecting intellectual property is crucial for Olympic sponsors who have paid huge amounts of money in exchange for exclusive rights to use the symbols of the games. The committee declined to comment on specific cases. The Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan removed from its website a parody drawing using the Tokyo Olympic logo combined with elements of the coronavirus after receiving a withdrawal request from the organizing committee.

Koyama, the organizer of the exhibition, plans a third anti-Olympic arts event for the end of next month, when the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is scheduled to begin. But galleries are wary of subversive exhibitions like his, the artist said. One who agreed to receive it retracted after far-right activists arrived in space with loudspeaker trucks to demand the cancellation of another show that they said was unpatriotic. “Freedom of speech is on the verge of extinction due to the Tokyo Olympics,” Koyama said. “They are suffocating us.”

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