Dr. Darren Ashmore Joins Virtual Panelist Discussion in Bonhams Inaugural “World of Anime” Auction

Dr. Ashmore will be joined by other experts in the field of Japanese popular media in the virtual seminar titled, ‘Inside the World of Anime’.

Kiki's Delivery Service production cel for auction at Bonhams World of Anime Sale
Image Credit: Bonhams

Bonhams, one of the world’s largest and oldest auction houses, has sold many high priced artefacts of popular culture such as Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion costume, handwritten set list by Paul McCartney, the piano from Casablanca, and many more.

From 24 Jan to 2 Feb 2022, Bonhams will be holding their first online sale for anime. The Bonhams World of Anime sale will include over 150 anime production cels and drawings.

Production cels were used in the pre-digital era of animation, when anime was produced one frame at a time by hand-painting or drawing on celluloid sheets.

Leading the sale is a production cel from the classic Studio Ghibli film directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989). Other notable production cels in the auction are from anime works such as My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Dragon Ball Z (1989-1996), and Pokémon (1997-2002).

iCLA professor Dr. Darren Ashmore will be part of the panel of leading experts and academics in Bonhams virtual panel discussion, ‘Inside the World of Anime’ taking place on Tuesday, Jan 25 at 8am EST. The seminar will explore animation history, shifts in international markets, collector trends, and preservation tips.

You can register for the ‘Inside the World of Anime’ seminar through Zoom: ‘Inside the World of Anime’ Registration Link

We asked Dr. Ashmore about the significance of the auction for the anime and manga industry.

“There was once a time in which anime studios would have difficulty getting rid of animation cels. Being made of material which could not safely be burned, to get round the costs involved with disposing of the ‘by product’ of film making, even Studio Ghibli used to vend their cels directly to fans,” Dr. Ashmore said, “That is how I bought my first Laputa cels, for example. Of course, as is the case with everything art related, as scarcity crept in, something of a tipping point was reached in the mid-90s, when overseas interest in collection really ramped up. Now, from London to Los Angeles, you will find a very competitive series of collectors and vendors who will fight, tooth and nail for the increasingly rare artefacts of the golden age of Japanese animation.

The fact that Bonhams, one of the US’ most important art auction houses takes the media form so seriously is an indication of how the ‘cel’ has matured as an art form. Indeed, one of the cel’s in this auction I acquired for only a few thousand yen in 1993 from a Ghibli representative. Over the years it seems to have changed hands many times, and now carries a value in excess of five thousand dollars. Just the natural order of things though, I suppose.”

Source: Bonhams Inaugural Anime Sale Offers Rare Original Works from Beloved Classics

Dr. Darren Ashmore’s Faculty Profile