All eyeson manga

Aug. 26—Japanese popular culture, specifically manga, is front and center at multiple locations on the University of Idaho campus for the next three weeks.

The Reflection Gallery in the Idaho Student Union Building and a gallery at Ridenbaugh Hall are lined with dozens of pieces of art, part of the Habib Institute for Asian Studies' AsiaPop! program, which kicked off this week with talks about different topics related to manga and anime.

Jeff Kyong-McClair, the director of the institute, said the organizers wanted to share other cultures with university students and give them alternative ways to engage with it. The idea for focusing on manga and anime for this program came from the popularity of the two they saw among students.

"We're trying to get students around the university and around Idaho interested in studying East Asia," Kyong-McClair said.

Manga is a Japanese story form read from right to left in black and white. The tales can range from a slice of life to a supernatural or dystopian story, said Yuta Kaminishi, a postdoctoral fellow. In his "Why manga matters" poster, which accompanies each exhibit, he writes that manga can be compared to a graphic novel.

These books, often serialized in newspapers and magazines, can influence the anime industry. "Jujutsu Kaisen," a dark fantasy anime and manga, recently had a movie adaptation.

Attendees milled between the two galleries throughout the Thursday night opening reception. The gallery in the Idaho Student Union Building is titled "Manga and War" and is in cooperation with the Kyoto International Manga Museum. Jill Kyong, a master's student in the fine arts, designed the exhibit with the panels given to her from the museum.

Kyong is also the coordinator for the Idaho Student Manga Contest Exhibit at Ridenbaugh Hall, which is filled with manga panels drawn by students from the UI and high schoolers from across Idaho.

Nine high school students and three college students received scholarships for their work, Kyong said.

Amber Aittama, a third-year architecture student at UI, participated after drawing a three-page spread for an art class.

"I've never done a competition for my art before," Aittama said. "It was something new for me."

Aittama received a $400 scholarship for her submission, a black-and-white piece where a man hallucinates that his medication is dancing in the sink.

Other students submitted single panels and complete stories drawn in a manga style.

"We thought, how can we make contact with students here," Kyong said.

The Manga Contest exhibit will remain on display from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Fridays until Sept. 15 in Ridenbaugh Hall on the UI campus. The "Manga and War" exhibit will be on display from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until Sept. 15 in the Idaho Student Union Building.

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