Moto Hagio, the pioneering graphic artist who opened doors for women in manga

Moto Hagio is a unique figure in the male-dominated world of Japanese manga, breaking down barriers and revolutionising the comic book genre since the 1970s. France honoured her with an award and exhibition at the Angoulême International Comics Festival in January.

At 74, Moto Hagio is still at the top of her game. Much to the delight of French fans, the Angoulême International Comics Festival invited her to give a masterclass alongside fellow Japanese authors Hiroaki Samura and Shinichi Sakamoto.

Not only was she handed the Fauve d’honneur – a lifetime award acknowledging her contribution to the comics industry over the last 50 years – but a large selection of her work was also chosen for the exhibition “Beyond Genres” at the Angoulême Museum. It is on display until 17 March.

Exhibition co-curator Xavier Guilbert is thrilled that French audiences have had a chance to encounter a pioneer of the industry and get to know her extensive work better.

“We are lucky enough to have a lot of her work being translated into French, but they only represent a little part of her entire production,” Guilbert told RFI during the festival.

Manga offers audiences a way of “travelling”, he said.

Manga integral part of culture

Guilbert, who lived in Japan, calls manga “integral” to Japanese culture. It also allows space for “criticism directed at society or exploring its fantasies or aspirations”.

“We thought it was a good opportunity to cast a light on part of the history of manga that is usually put aside,” he told RFI, suggesting that male artists tend to pull more focus than their female counterparts.

“That’s really what defines her work,” he says.

Read more on RFI English

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