The Japanese may be squeamish about confronting social ills (see Jake Adelstein’s Tokyo Vice), but they’re proud as peach when it comes to promoting cartoonist and cultural icon Osamu Tezuka, the creator of Astro Boy. In honor of Tezuka’s November birthday, Astro Boy saw a re-imagined theatrical release here in the U.S., accompanied by the publication of The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, an illustrated history of the cartoonist’s career. The Freer and Sackler galleries are getting in on the celebration as well, albeit with an art form not quite as familiar to Americans, as say, the appropriation of Tezuka’s style for hentai (cartoon porn). This weekend’s kamishibai performances–Japanese for “paper dramas”–will feature the artist Yassan retelling “The Golden Bat,” a storyline from Astroy Boy, using Tezuka’s images. It’s a good opportunity to get your kids hooked on old fashioned cartooning before their aspirations are completely wrecked by the advent of 3D.
YASSAN PERFORMS AT NOON AND 2 P.M., AND AGAIN ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY AT 11 A.M., 1 P.M., AND 3 P.M., AT THE FREER AND SACKLER GALLERIES, 12TH ST. AND JEFFERSON DRIVE SW. FREE. (202) 633-1000.