Pokémon style 20th edition of the Manga Fair opens its doors in Barcelona

The 20th edition of the Manga Fair is taking place between Thursday 30th October and Sunday 2nd November at the Fira de Barcelona's Montjuic exhibition space. The Manga Fair is an annual event that celebrates the popular Japanese anime, bringing together fans from all around the world, through a series of exhibitions and activities in Barcelona. This year, the space has increased to 50,000m2, and the opening times will be extended. There will be a variety of special guests attending, including the author Kengo Hanazawa, artist Takeshi Obata from Japan, and Ken Niimura, a Spanish author of Japanese descent. There will also be a number of musicians participating, such as the Japanese pop group Loverin Tamburin. The programme features various exhibitions on Japanese authors and illustrators. On the catering side, the event will feature Michelin-star chefs including Ricardo Sanz and Jordi Roca.

Two attendees of Barcelona's Manga Fair 2014 (by P. Francesch)
Two attendees of Barcelona's Manga Fair 2014 (by P. Francesch) / ACN


October 31, 2014 08:54 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- The Manga Fair opened its doors on Thursday, in the Fira de Barcelona's Montjuic exhibition space in Barcelona, and will run until Sunday November 2nd. Now in its 20th year, the annual event brings together fans of the Japanese anime from around the world, through a variety of exhibitions and activities in the Catalan capital. This year’s event will take place in a bigger space than ever, as the hall has increased from 35,000m2 to 50,000m2, and is in the shape of one of the main Pokémon characters. The show will be attended by prominent authors such as Kengo Hanazawa, Takeshi Obata and Ken Niimura, and Japanese pop group Loverin Tamburin. There will be a range of exhibitions and concerts on the programme to celebrate 20 years of the Manga Fair, and for this year organisers have featured the new Dragon Ball. From a culinary perspective, the food will be of Michelin-star quality, as the event will be catered for by chefs such as Ricardo Sanz and Jordi Roca. The show’s director, Carles Santamaria stressed that we are living in a "global new Japonism", of which "manga, anime and video games are part of". This year’s Fair will also include a floor dedicated to the Spirit of Japan, showcasing Japanese culture, traditions and spirituality.

The Dragon Ball "which is a license that never dies"

This year’s Manga Fair will also have a section on Dragon Ball. Which is, as David Hernando, Editorial Director of Planeta's Comics Department said, “is a license that never dies". Planeta Comic has released the Dragon Ball in colour, Dragon Ball DS and a book of comics on the adventures of Son Goku. They have also introduced new collections such as 'La Abuela y su gato gordo' (The Granny and her fat cat) and 'Vinland saga', which Hernando explained is "the most important Manga" of the Fair and is set in the world of the Vikings.

Hanazawa and Obata: "Two very famous mangaka in Japan"

Two guests of honour at this year’s Fair will be "two very famous mangaka in Japan", according to Annabel Espada, the Editor of Norma editorial. One is Kengo Hanazawa; the Japanese author of the best-selling book "I am a hero", a vision of a zombie apocalypse in Japan, now in its tenth edition by Norma editorial. The second is Takeshi Obata, another prominent author who illustrated "Death Note", a series about around a high school student who discovers a supernatural notebook that allows him to kill anyone by writing the victim's name and picturing his face. His latest work is "All you need is Kill" also published by Norma editorial, which is the Manga realisation of the popular Japanese sci-fi novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, which also inspired the film "Edge of Tomorrow". Other titles published by the Catalan editorial, include "Travelling", "Solana" and "The Seven Deadly Sins", titles by Ken Niimura, a Spanish writer of Japanese descent who now lives in Tokyo. Espada is confident that this year’s will be a "very good fair" given its increased size, guest list and new areas such as the meditation zone.

"We like role-play"

Carol Garrido and Clàudia Llatzer are two students from the Joso School which specializes in comic illustration. They are doing promotion work for the Fair, by posing for people for photos, and entering them into a draw to win dinner in a Japanese restaurant if the photos are posted on Facebook. They have been going to the Manga Fair for seven or eight years, and this year are dressed as Manga characters Miss Fortune Arcade and Sona Arcade, as they "like role-play". The cool thing about role-play, Carol explained, is that "when you are dressed up you test it by seeing if you become the character".

David Martínez and Solan Jamorim were also dressed up as anime characters. David explained that it is fun to go to the Fair and meet other people interested in "this style of life". For David, role-play appeals to them because "For us who are absorbed in these books, anime and comics, we live them both in and out of home".

From the Spirit of Japan to the Pokémon Playground

The increased size of the exhibition space, means that this year’s Manga Fair will feature Hall 1 dedicated to Japanese food and the space game Pokémon region, the ground floor with the Manga studio and the Pokémon Playground, and Hall 2, a new space which will showcase Japanese culture and tradition in ‘The Spirit of Japan’.

Japanese music and food

In addition to the invited authors, Japanese pop group Loverin Tamburin will also be performing. The culinary side of the Fair will include world cuisine by Michelin-star chefs including Ricardo Sanz of the Kabuki project, and Jordi Roca of the Girona-based and world's second best restaurant Celler de Can Roca, who was named this year’s world pastry chef of the year.


Big stars of Japanese videogames include Junichi Masuda and Shigeru Ohmori, behind the Nintendo Pokémon videogames. Masuda was the designer, composer and scriptwriter of Pokémon, and Ohmori was the final production director responsible for 'Pokémon Rubí Omega' and 'Pokémon Zafiro Alfa'. Manuel Curdi, the brand manager of Pokémon in Spain, explained to the ACN that for the past 25 years, Pokémon and Nintendo have "opened the door to the world of video games for many children who remember the Pokémon television series, anime and manga". The joint anniversary of Pokémon and the Manga Fair require double celebration. For fans of the videogame, they can "try for the first time the game that will be released at the end of November".


In his opening of the Fair, Santamaria highlighted the emergence of a new "Japonism" in Barcelona, seen in the strong love for manga and anime. He explained that after 20 years this has not changed, the Fair remains a "window into the relationship between two cultures, and their respect and value for each other". He was accompanied by the Catalan Minister for Culture, Ferran Mascarell, and the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, who confirmed that "the Fair is one of these cultural in which Barcelona takes part, whose international standing reinforces the role of Barcelona as the capital of writing, and culture and illustration".