If you don’t like the f-word, stay away from Helen McCarthy. A feminist from the cradle, she was brought up and educated by creative, radical women, and she has no intention of deviating from the trail of disruption they encouraged her to follow.

Right now Helen is hugely excited by the development of 2.5D, a movement to bring anime and manga into live action without whitewashing. 2.5D offers new opportunities for actors of East Asian origin around the world, and for directors and designers who love physical theatre and want the added excitement of anime and manga. 2.5D visited North America for the first time in March 2019 with a Sailor Moon musical live onstage in New York and Washington DC. Don’t miss Helen’s presentation on the power and potential of 2.5D.

She’s also part of the team working on a major exhibition devoted to manga at the British Museum in London from 24 May to 26 August. The event includes live manga demos, guests, music and film screenings, with a major focus on cosplay, alongside one of the most exciting and informative exhibitions ever mounted outside Japan.

In 2018 Helen focussed on academic work, including chapters in forthcoming books on anime’s transnational role and on the work of Isao Takahata. She’s working on an exciting project that she can’t share in this bio, but hopefully soon! And she’s still writing, pitching and failing to sell fiction.

Alongside her writing and scholarly work, Helen’s lectures and workshops about anime, manga, haiku, costume and cosplay history, needlework and creative business have taken her around the world. 

So what’s her background in anime and manga? When Helen first encountered Japanese popular culture in Europe in 1981, the internet was in its infancy – no broadband, no live streaming and only rudimentary search engines. People read books for information, and there was no book on anime in English, so Helen decided to write one. Writing it turned out to be much easier than getting it published – that took over a decade of door-knocking, pitching and rejection. Since then, she’s edited two magazines and had thirteen non-fiction books published in seven languages including Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

Come and say hello, listen to one of her presentations and prepare to be hit with a fire hose of passion for anime, manga, creativity and scholarship.