Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Manga Kamishibai: Japanese Paper Theatre

I'm fascinated by this part of the history of storytelling illustration. I've just started reading the book whose cover is pictured above. On the streets of Japan, starting about 1930, this scene could be witnessed:
During the height of kamishibai in the 1930s, storytellers would travel to villages and set up their butais (miniature wooden prosceniums), through which illustrated boards were shown. The storytellers acted as entertainers and reporters, narrating tales that ranged from action-packed westerns, period pieces, traditional folk tales, and melodramas, to nightly news reporting on World War II. More than just explaining the pictures, a good storyteller would act out the parts of each character with different voices and facial expressions.

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