Anime Architecture celebrates iconic fictional cityscapes

A new book from Thames & Hudson explores the stories behind the elaborate cities and buildings of cult anime movies including Akira and Ghost in the Shell

Anime Architecture brings together some of the most elaborate and futuristic locations of the genre, emphasising the level of work and detail that went into creating these fictional pieces of architecture.

The images were all created between 1988 and 2010, during which, as the book’s author Stefan Riekeles notes, the anime industry went through significant changes as the result of new digital technologies.

“Over these 22 years, paper-based background artwork reached its peak in terms of both realism and dedication to detail. Nowadays, computer animation is used in all areas of production, but the most important tools for the creators of the works featured here still include the layout table, paper, pencil and paintbrush – these artists established their careers and reputations at a time when anime was almost exclusively hand-drawn on paper.”

Top image: Metropolis, scene 12, cut no. 7 et al. Final production background Shuichi Kusamori © 2001 Tezuka Productions/Metropolis Committee. Licensed from Bandai Namcoarts Inc. All Rights Reserved; Above: Patlabor: The Movie, cut no. 182. Final production background: Hiromasa Ogura © 1989 Headgear
Akira, cut no. 207. Final production background: Toshiharu Mizutani. Based on the graphic novel Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo. First published by Young Magazine, Kodansha Ltd. © 1988 Mash • Room/Akira Committee. All rights reserved
Akira, cut no. 1. Still images. Based on the graphic novel Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo. First published by Young Magazine, Kodansha Ltd. © 1988 Mash • Room/Akira Committee. All rights reserved

The book – which has been more than ten years in the making – delves into the process behind these images, from the concept design, through colour palettes and into the final layout phase. It also explores some of the genre’s influential moments – for example Akira’s Neo Tokyo setting, and the Patlabor films’ more realistic depiction of the Japanese capital.

There’s no shortage of beautiful imagery to accompany it either, and seeing such elaborate drawings on their own, away from the action of the film, only emphasises how much detail their creators painstakingly included. Whether they show science fiction cities, or edited versions of real-life locations, the book is a welcome bit of architectural escapism.

Ghost in the Shell, cut no. 68.  Final production background, detail: Hiromasa Ogura. © 1995 Shirow Masamune/Kodansha • Bandai Visual • Manga Entertainment. All rights reserved
Patlabor 2: The Movie, cut no. 572. Final production background: Hiromasa Ogura. © 1993 Headgear

Anime Architecture is published by Thames & Hudson, priced £35; thamesandhudson.com

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes