A team of lecturers led by a senior lecturer, Dr Faryna Mohd Khalis, from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Kedah Branch, has secured a prestigious research grant from Toshiba International Foundation (TIFO) Japan to carry out a project, namely “A Meeting of Two Worlds: Japanese Anime Influence in Malaysian Character Design.”
Dr Shafilla Subri, Mr Abdullah Kula Ismail, Mrs Nurul Atikah Adnan, Mrs Syazliyati Ibrahim, and Assoc. Prof. Dr Mohd Rizaimy Shaharudin are five other team members that contributed to the project.
Significantly, UiTM is the sole grant recipient from Malaysia and Asia in the Art and Culture category from TIFO in the year 2021. This project intends to highlight the Japanese anime influences on Malaysian character design developed by UiTM students. Since Japanese core values such as harmony, order, and self-development are significant principles that should also be pervasive in other cultures, this project endeavours to promote the meeting of the two worlds, Japan and Malaysia, by highlighting the sharing of these important values via character design.
The project was executed from May 1st, 2021 to April 30th, 2022 and was separated into 3 phases: the initial stage, project development stage, and project output stage. Students from five UiTM branch campuses participated in this project: Kedah, Perak, Melaka, Kelantan, and Sarawak. They were provided with guidance to produce comic characters based on Malaysian folklore using the Japanese anime style of illustration. In addition to comprehensive supervision, coaching and monitoring were provided until their character designs and comics were completed.
To present the nine produced comics for public view, an exhibition, namely the TOSHIBA-UiTM Comic Project Exhibition 2022, was held from February 28th, 2022 until April 30th, 2022 at the Art and Design Gallery, College of Creative Arts, UiTM Kedah Branch. In addition, the event was live-streamed via social media platforms to reach a variety of audiences. The exhibition was co-hosted by the National Department of Culture and Arts (JKKN) in Kedah State and officiated by the Rector of UiTM Kedah, Professor Dr Mohamad Abdullah Hemdi. The JKKN’s participation in this endeavour has really boosted the prestige of the event to the national level of involvement.
To add to the effect of publicity, the Honourable Consul General, Mr Orikasa Hiroyuki, of the Consulate-General of Japan in Penang, Malaysia, also paid a visit and offered his remarks during the event’s opening ceremony.
In his speech, Mr Orikasa said: “Let me congratulate the UiTM Kedah Branch team for winning the TIFO grant in 2021. This award of the UiTM Kedah Branch team is not only an amazing achievement but also a symbol of the friendship relationship between Japan and Malaysia for all of us. Japan has a distinct culture by our lifestyle, traditions, customs, infrastructures and I believe and I agree Malaysia resembles Japan in certain ways that a distinct culture to makes two countries complementary to each other. For instance, the core value of Malaysia and Japan such as respect, loyalty to seniors, a treasury of our own traditions and language, harmony of religion and love of our hometown are based on the daily lives of the people of Japan and Malaysia. Anime originated from Japan which always has a sense of love, justice, courage, respect of not only people but also nature and peace, highly popular in Malaysia. Due to these common values between Japan and Malaysia, young Malaysian from primary to university level students are key followers of Japanese anime. Based on the large fans that anime has on the life of Malaysian students and the beautiful niche of Malaysia, the UiTM project team designed these animation characters. This is a smart approach I believe.”