Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan

The first UK exhibition of architectural illustrations for classic anime films, including Ghost in the Shell

When, Where

"These hand-drawn pieces offer meticulous artificial wonderlands" - Financial Times

"Impressive and beautiful" Londonist

"A show full of glittering, neon-lit cityscapes" Time Out

"Fans of the Scarlett Johansson-starring blockbuster Ghost in the Shell have a treat waiting at House of Illustration." Evening Standard 

This is the UK’s first ever exhibition of architectural backdrops from classic anime films. It features over 100 exquisite technical drawings and watercolour illustrations from some of the most influential productions in the genre’s 1990s heyday, including Production I.G’s artwork for Ghost in the Shell.

The artists were tasked with creating a universe for the director. Their fictional worlds reflected real-life concerns over ruthless urban development and erosion of identity, mirroring the films' narratives and giving the backgrounds a crucial role to play. Their work has had a defining influence on the style of anime we think of as typical today.

The show includes Hiromasa Ogura’s watercolour paintings for Ghost in the Shell, an anime epic that informed pioneering sci-fi works such as The Matrix and Avatar. Inspired by Asia’s emerging megacities and based on photographs of Hong Kong, Ogura’s work depicts the striking contrast between a derelict Chinese town and looming, faceless skyscrapers.

Takashi Watabe's meticulously realistic style has become a hallmark of Japanese anime films as a whole. We show his pencil drawings for 2008’s sequel Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, as well as work from Patlabor: The Movie (1989) and Metropolis (2001), by Mamoru Oshii and Atsushi Takeuchi.

Since the success of Akira (1988) and Ghost in the Shell, Japanese anime films have been at the heart of global pop culture. A live action remake of Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson was released on 31 March 2017.

In association with Les Jardins des Pilotes and Tchoban Foundation - Museum for Architectural Drawing, Berlin.

Buy exhibition tickets below – one ticket covers admission to all House of Illustration exhibitions that are open on the day.