Embed from Getty Images

It’s as if a thousand cel collectors cried out in anguish, then were suddenly silenced.

On Friday, a coalition of members of the Japanese Diet, who represent the “Manga, Anime, and Games” group, introduced plans to submit a new bill. The bill, which will be introduced when the Diet convenes on January 22, will establish a new “National Media Arts Center.”

The National Media Arts Center will be tasked with collecting and storing “original editions of manga and anime cels”, with the aim of preventing these materials from leaving the country.

Cel from Ah! My Goddess: The Movie Image courtesy of The Crystal Temple

The article notes that cels and original manga are acquisition targets for foreign buyers, due to their “globally recognized high quality.” Keiji Furuya, chief of the House of Representatives Steering Committee, is leading the group. He stated that it is necessary to set up the center as soon as possible, and preserve these works as “treasures of Japan.”

In 2009, a similar initiative was pitched by the Liberal Democratic Party and them-Prime Minister Taro Aso. At the time, opposition critics lambasted the idea, call it a plan to build a “state-run manga café.” At the tie, they also pointed out that facilities of a similar nature already exist, such as the Kyoto Manga Museum. The initiative, which was budgeted at ¥11.7 billion ($103,923,327.68 USD) was ultimately scuttled that year, thanks to a change of administration.

The group argued that facilities like the Kyoto Manga Museum are constrained by copyright laws, which prevent digitization of cels and celluloid materials for preservation, and to prevent deterioration. Because of this, the new coalition’s bill would make the National Media Arts Center a branch of the National Diet Library. This would free it up from legal copyright restrictions.

The group intends to build the facility in Akihabara (or somewhere nearby), where it would be free to the public. The center would hold exhibitions and provide detailed information on anime-centric events across Japan.

Source: Japan Times (via Reddit)