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Feature JAPAN'S TECHNOLOGICAL ACHIEVEMENTS Nicker Paint The magic behind the artist VEENA YOSHINO J APAN’s manga and animation have exploded in popularity all over the world and have come to represent Japan’s pop culture. The Nerima Ward of Tokyo is often said to be the birthplace of anime. Fittingly, it is also the location of Nicker, the paint brand used by many leading manga and anime artists, including Hayao Miyazaki, the genius behind such beloved films as My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. Ichiro Tsumakura is the current president of this 64-year-old company. In his office decorated with paintings by artists and art school 10 | highlighting japan students, he points to one image in particular. It was done on the spot by an artist from Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli. The sky in the painting is a combination of a whole range of blue, while the cloud seems so light that it might literally float out of the paper, a familiar sight in Ghibli works. Gazing at the picture, Tsumakura says, “Instead of making children draw ordinary posters in school, they should get teachers to do demonstrations like this, and allow children to create their own versions of Ghibli. You have to give them a dream, a hope. If not, art will have no meaning.” Demonstrating marble art at Nicker Paint There are up to 600 colors for certain types of Nicker paints. “We get many requests from clients to make colors that are between two very similar shades,” Tsumakura notes. For example, when Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy) premiered on national television in 1963, Osamu Tezuka’s production staff came to the factory to choose his colors. But out of the standard 1-6 range, he could not find a single shade of black that suited Astro Boy’s boots. This led Nicker to create a new shade of black between 3 and 4, now named 3.5. When color television began two years later, Tezuka’s production staff again paid Nicker a visit, this time to choose the color of the sky. “When we finished making the color he requested, Tezuka exclaimed in satisfaction, ‘This, indeed, is the color of the sky!’ That color is now Silurian blue.”