Cosplay, comics, and culture: Manga Barcelona returns!
Catalonia's biggest celebration of Japanese culture goes far beyond manga, with sports, cooking, and artistic masterclasses alongside hundreds of exhibitions
The 25th edition of Manga Barcelona returns this week for a renewal of the special relationship between Catalonia and the Japanese art form. Around 150,000 people attended last year’s Manga fair, and similar numbers are expected this year to fill the 78,000 square meters of activities that will be on offer in Fira Barcelona, just off Plaça Espanya.
Every year thousands of enthusiastic fans come dressed in amazing costumes of their favourite characters, and this year will be no different with colourful cosplay parades, gatherings, and conga lines.
The fair has already sold out for Friday and Saturday single-day tickets and few remain for Sunday and Thursday, but more tickets could become available on the day at the ticket office should enough people leave the venue.
Hundreds of stalls fill the main halls selling comics, games, and merchandise of fan favourites. Another section dedicated to Nintendo gives visitors the chance to try out their gaming skills with dozens of Nintendo Switches to be played, and even some interactive activities like Just Dance.
Meritxell Puig, the general director of FICOMIC, the body organizing the event, affirmed that this is a "special year," the 25th anniversary of Manga Barcelona, and it will feature "more authors than ever, with exceptional artists from Japan", with roundtable discussions and talks, as well as a movie show at the Manga Barcelona Auditorium.
Guest appearances and activities
Over the four days of fun and activities, manga megastars will be present in Barcelona, including Aya Kanno, K & A.K. Wirru, Nyango Star, and more. Hosted in the MNAC, Catalonia’s National Art Museum, there is also a huge exhibition dedicated to none other than the god of manga and creator of Astro Boy, Osamu Tezuka.
Makoto Tezuka, world-famous anime and manga film director and the son of Osamu Tezuka, will also be present at the festival. There will also be 800 square meters dedicated to Dragon Ball World Adventure, a space called Manga Revival looking back at the 25-year history of the fair, and another area solely for Doraemon.
At Manga Revival, fans are invited to take part by sharing their experiences of Manga Barcelona through the years, both on social networks and at the event itself.
Barcelona Manga is a much wider celebration of Japanese culture than just manga books and comics. At the Japan Experience section of the fair, you can brush up on your martial arts skills ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with masterclasses on jujitsu, karate, and judo among some of the sports on offer. There are also plenty of ping pong tables, and even courts to play football, basketball, and volleyball.
Fans will also have the chance to enjoy Japanese cuisine with cooking masterclasses, giving the chance to perfect your sushi rolls or go experimental with Japanese style chicken teriyaki pizzas. Also on offer are drawing workshops, origami lessons, and even language courses.
Daily collective challenges
One of the most special novelties of this year are the daily collective challenges, bringing as many people attending the fair together to take on a unique test. On Thursday, festival directors hope to create the longest cosplay conga line the world has ever seen, before the crowd tries to follow along with the choreography of ‘Fortune Cookie’ by AKB48 on Friday.
On Saturday, manga fans will create a huge ‘energy ball’ in the technique of Son Goku, and Sunday will see visitors dress in red and white clothing to honour the Japanese flag.