Diversity and inclusion have been key issues in the West for some years now. Race, gender, class, sexuality; they must be tackled to provide true equality for everyone. Even though there is a long way ahead, significant steps have been taken in the past few decades. Look at the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s, and of course the still-raging Black Lives Matter movement. Or how feminism advanced from the suffragettes to the #MeToo movement. Also, the modern gay liberation movement started in the 1970s in the United States, with protests and social pressure achieving huge achievements on LGBTI+ recognition and inclusion.
In this last case, not only have gay or lesbian persons achieved visibility in most advanced societies, but awareness regarding transgender issues have equally surfaced. In the past two decades, marriage rights have become common in many countries in the world. “Diversity” resonates with both the public and the media.
Of course, the word “diversity” can encompass many concepts. This includes but is not limited to race and gender-related subjects. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, diversity is “the inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.” With this exhibition we show how manga effectively tells stories related to diversity, acceptance, engagement, inclusion, discrimination, and normalization. They do so in a variety of forms and genres such as drama, love story, slice of life, iyashi-kei (soothing works), science fiction, action, educational, and documentary.
Despite the vast variety of manga published in Japan, only a small percentage reaches the international market. Those that do are usually popular action- and adventure-themed series. However, there is a growing tendency to publish alternative works. Many works in Japan depict characters, topics, or issues directly related to diversity and inclusion that resonate with Western audiences. In fact, some are more popular overseas than they do in Japan. The image of manga as a wider and more diverse medium is growing.
For this exhibition, we have selected a few brilliant works that deal with diversity and inclusion. They were distinguished by the Japan Media Arts Festival jury as outstanding and have been awarded recognitions such as the Grand Prize, the Excellence Award, the New Face Award, and the Jury Selections prize.
Marc BERNABÉ (L’Ametlla del Vallès, Barcelona, 1976) is a manga and anime translator since 2000, and a writer and lecturer specialized on Japanese language and culture. He has translated a long list of manga titles, among which “Crayon Shinchan”, “Naruto”, “Death Note” and the works of famous authors such as TEZUKA Osamu and URASAWA Naoki. He is the author of the “Japanese in MangaLand” series, and the books “Japón - Manga, traducción y vivencias de apasionado del país del sol naciente” and, together with Oriol ESTRADA, “501 mangas que leer en español.” (www.japonesenvinetas.com) With Verònica CALAFELL, he leads DARUMA Serveis Lingüístics (www.daruma.es), specialized translation agency since 2004, and ESPAI DARUMA (www.espaidaruma.cat), education center for Japanese language and culture since 2015.