Funky Radical World
January 18, 2003 6:13 AM   Subscribe

Funky Radical World was created by Japanese illustrator Radical Suzuki - don't miss the delightful fashion show. One of my favorite works is Real Tokyo Girls, a flash animation about the rather fascinating Ganguro girl fad. This gallery includes a few more samples of his work. warning - some cartoon nudity may be involved!
posted by madamjujujive (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
[this is swank.]
posted by condour75 at 8:01 AM on January 18, 2003

Further evidence that women dress up for each other and not guys.
posted by stbalbach at 9:08 AM on January 18, 2003

Kyo wa love hotel de nuudo--yay

This is why I love Tokyo.
posted by dydecker at 9:15 AM on January 18, 2003

Hmmph. There's even a Christina Aguilera wannabe in those Ganguro girl pics. Interesting new trend (they go gangbusters for new trends, don't they?--like tiramisu in the '90s. Tiramisu-flavored everything available in every vending machine near you.)

Salon has a good article on the Kogaru and Ganguro trends. Some Ganguro take great pains to appear black, like their American pop idols:

Haruna looks like a pretty drag queen in the tradition of RuPaul. Her skin is a patchy ochre. To achieve this hue, she admits to paying regular and pricey visits to a Kanazawa franchise of the national tanning salon "Blacky." Some label her look the "ike ike onna," the go-go girl. Most call it "ganguro," which translates literally as blackface.

Suzuki reminds me of a Japanese painter who did whimsical, slightly camp American big-city street scenes full of 1920s classic cars, flappers and men in suits and hats. Can anyone remind me of his name?

Heh! Rad Suze looks like a fun fellow! (Scroll down a bit.)Thanks for linking us to the peach-fuzz fizzy delicious world of Radical Suzuki, juju! He's a great window into Japanese culture. No matter how much it derives from other cultures (usually the West), the art and obsessive trends of Japan are always their own bizarre, distinct, wonderful world.

Off-topic, I Googled for the name of that painter and couldn't find it. But I found all kinds of other fantastic things on the trip, as usual. Need some fun, some brain-fodder, a subject for a post?: Google Google Google!! This is my advice to you on a Saturday morning.
posted by Shane at 9:16 AM on January 18, 2003

Shane, thanks for the links...the Ganguro thing fascinates me. Here is another essay on the topic - silly as the fashion fad may be, it signals a breaking from the more traditional, subservient female role.

And speaking of tradition, it occurs to me that this "blackface" might be rooted in the tradition of Kabuki whiteface. Here's some interesting photos of Japanese goth or shibuya girls - changing face color seems to be an important part of the style fads.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:07 AM on January 18, 2003

Ganguro is passe in Japan nowadays and very rare. It got toned down into this kind of blonde barbie with blue jeans thing.

The goth girls in the photograph are Visual-kei, not Shibuya girls. Shibuya is Louis Vuitton bags and trendy kawaii stuff.

Visual-kei and are into bands with French-sounding names like L'Arc En Ceil and La Chrima Christi. They know nothing about the Goth subculture from the West--it seems to be unrelated. Definately there is a big kabuki influence. They also like dressing up in what seems to be 18th century chambermaids outfits (I don't get it).

I have been paying way too much attention.
posted by dydecker at 12:07 PM on January 18, 2003

Thanks for the clarifications dydecker - I suspected that the ganguro thing jumped the shark a year or two ago, but info is scarce in English so I wasn't sure.
Maybe that Visual-kei stuff would explain the fairly awesome outfits in these photos that also incited my curiosity.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:38 PM on January 18, 2003

There's an interesting entry on The Kids of Harajuku in Yen's now dead Shinkansen Journal that touches on this culture, it's a little dated (01/01) but nicely presented.
posted by DBAPaul at 2:10 PM on January 18, 2003

"Goth" meets Kabuki meets chambermaid costumes? How cool, juju & dydecker. Thanks for the inside info, dy--I see you're in Tokyo. Is the tiramisu fetish long gone by now? Those wacky Nihonjins: Green Tea Tiramisu. (With real mascarpone, not cream cheese...)

They also like dressing up in what seems to be 18th century chambermaids outfits (I don't get it).

You don't (NSFW?)? Oh, you said chambermaid, not French maid. I know--exploitation of the working class, and all that. Heh! French maid fantasy costumes w/ Alice from Wonderland French Maid Vampire!

Sorry, sorry. Got carried away.
posted by Shane at 4:39 PM on January 18, 2003

Nice post, as usual, Madame.

The costumes and theatrics have a long history beginning as far back as 1612 with "Kabuki-mono", who were basically gangsters wearing outlandish Kabuki theater garb:

"Kabuki-mono was from the beginning shoguns samurais(knight) that during a longer time in peace had bin forced in to unemployment."

Spelling aside, this appears to have some truth to it.

And the brown freaky girls may or may not be trying to imitate actual Africans, but probably not, because of the ghost legend concerning the "Yamanba":

"During the Edo period in Japan, people were poor and faced hard times with limited resources. To survive, citizens banished the unproductive elderly to the mountains to die. Japanese legend holds that these mountain women would come down to raid the towns for food. History has since evolved into a ghost legend. "
posted by hama7 at 1:06 AM on January 19, 2003

The Salon article says the ganguro thing is about looking hip black American, but I think it's as much 60's surf/beach look as anything else. I've seen the hip-hop variants, but there aren't (weren't) that many of them.
posted by shoos at 2:12 AM on January 19, 2003

Jeez... anybody else think that the breasts of the cartoon girls on the flash site were absolutely and utterly unrealistic for Japanese? (Notwithstanding some very nsfw exceptions?)

I don't suppose there's a mad rush of plastic surgeons filling office space in Shibuya, is there?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:31 AM on January 19, 2003

Good links, Hama. Thanks. The origin of the name "Yakuza" is priceless. And I particularly like the Yamanba legend and its obvious origin in guilt--as in, We sent these people to the mountains to die, and they will come back to haunt us... The Salon article mentioned this, too:

Another name for ganguro is "yamanba," mountain grandmother, the name given to a mythical hag said to haunt the Japanese mountains.
posted by Shane at 8:47 AM on January 19, 2003

hama7, you always provide great links to eastern culture should post more cultural non-political links!

Really, thanks again to to all who posted such elucidating links. I have been intensely curious about this particular style fad thing since I found some some months back - it can be hard to dig up non-Japapnese information, but leave it to fellow mefi people to have the scoop.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:17 PM on January 19, 2003

you should post more cultural non-political links!

You're right. I have one brewing. And anyway I don't enjoy political topics, they're more like taking out the trash, or whatever else one would rather not do.
posted by hama7 at 2:29 AM on January 20, 2003

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