Giorno Giovanna (Jo Jo’s)

With the iconic fetishised colours and atmosphere of Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventure – Giorno cosplayers and photographers have no excuse when it comes to stylising. Saturated colours, romanticism and flowers create the perfect look for this unique character. Below are 4 cosplayers that have done a pretty good job at bringing the characters and the style off the pages and into reality.

Commercial products vs. Still Life Project

Having not done a project in a while I thought it’s time to get my butt in gear and do one. I’ve been looking at a lot of product photography jobs in the last few weeks, all of which want a product style portfolio. Whilst it’s not in my nature to produce a series of “consumerism” images, I can’t think of a better job than spending all day in a studio with objects and playing around with lighting.

This made me think about a project in which I can both fulfil my desire to create and build a series of images for product photography jobs. I looked around my room, thinking “What objects can I photograph?” I thought about this past year and decided things I brought back from Japan would be great.

Not having access to Cov uni’s studio anymore I had to improvise and googled it. To my delight I found this great tutorial article “How to Create an Inexpensive Photography Lightbox” – so I did. It’s a great temporary solution if you are tight on money and rich in time.

testers_0149

I started with the conventional white background set up, and then moved onto a more meaningful idea – using posters-maps and documents that coincide with the object. I know neither of these ideas were great or original, but I just had to start somewhere.

I took my Blue Rose figure down from my shelf and began shooting, I used a map of Tokyo’s Akihabara district synonymous with anime/manga and Otaku culture.

testest2 testtest

As I said before this is just a kick off point, my plan is to research still life projects. However, I’m aware that what constitutes as good commercial product photography is not what I would consider a thought provoking series, I may have to run two series at the same time using the same objects.

Let the research begin… Yay!

Figurines in Akihabara

Akihabara is Japans if not the world anime and manga Capital. A district obsessed with technology and the future, the inhabitants of Akihabara work hard and the majority of them are mega fans of anime and manga. I have been talking about creating a figurine of my character to compliment my final piece images. So whilst in figurine heaven thought I would conduct some research, in particular to the characters with different looks and interchangeable outfits and body parts.

I also made a purchase of my own. In a second hand figurine shop I purchased a chibi Blue Rose from Tiger and Bunny. I wanted to buy a full figurine just like the one I want to make as reference but they were too big to fit in my case as I had all my final piece outfits to fit in too. So tonight I will be online hunting for a cheap second hand figurine I can buy.

One thing the experience has made me think about it wether I want packaging or not. Is the figurine something that people look at and can’t touch? The packaging is always an important part of figurines, some never leave their boxes. I thought about this for a while but soon realised I need interaction within this piece to make it relevant to the issue and themes of participation and consumption.

Mariko Mori

Mariko Mori has a vast collection of work which you can see samples of below. Most of her work concerning identity and gender in Japan. There is also a common theme of science fiction. On a surface level I would say influenced by Japans geek culture or Otaku culture and technology. I want to dig deeper into the meaning behind the images. Is she using her work to make people question the society they live in? or is it more of a personal protest, being different because no one else dares too.

In the best works, like Subway (1994), the public reaction to Mori’s performance adds the realism that I so desperately crave whenever I find myself inundated by the in-again-out-again world of fashion. In Subway, Mori found herself having to utilise a fish-eye lens because the commuters who thought they would be in the frame sheepishly slid out of the camera’s view. Interestingly, despite the fact that there is a woman in a Space 1999 suit signalling to some far-off planet, nobody on the train is looking at her; instead they prefer to avoid involvement through consumption of more staid media (like newspapers or adverts).

– http://www.frieze.com/issue/review/24back2_mariko_mori/

She is a fine artist making politically motivated commentary but the outcome was beautifully ‘Pop’ and accessible in its dreamy, colourful, cartoony sheen. Her futuristic plastic doll costume complete with Manga blue hue hair is perfectly put together.

– http://isysarchive.tv/on-pioneers-mariko-mori/

The theatrical setting and costuming of her early photographs undeniably reflect the trends in Japanese popular culture, especially that of adolescent Japanese girls, known as shōjo culture.

In each of the Tokyo photographs Mori is a self-constructed idol, or idoru, ubiquitous in the world of J-Pop,anime or digital gaming.[5] These idols reflect the pastime of cosplay (kosupure, or costume playing) that has been popular amongst Japanese urban youth since the mid-1990s.

In Love hotel (1994), a uniformed schoolgirl kneels on a circular bed in a themed room. Concealed inside a silver unitard with angular ears this idoru is suggestive of Tezuka Osamu’s universal robotic hero Tetsuwan Atomu, or Astro Boy (1951–1967).[6] The mise en scène is potent with ambiguity as Mori’s idol asserts a youthful naïvety and vulnerability. This Lolita does not recline submissively on the hotel bed nor provocatively engage with the viewer. In Red light (1994), the idol wears a shimmering pink dress and pointy-eared silver unitard. Standing amidst the neon lights and signage of Kabuki-chō back streets (a well-known ‘pink’ or red light district of Tokyo) the idol takes a call on a mobile phone. Like the photographs of Yanagi Miwa,[7] Mori’s generic settings and cute idoru are dramatic and relatively formulaic. In retrospect, we can see that the work of artists such as Yanagi and Mori coincided with the global promotion and popularity of Japanese subcultures, in particular anime and manga. Mori’s cyborg lovers appear to perpetuate the entertainment industries’ use of the female body as a site of desire and pleasure—a stereotype that many young women photographers challenged throughout the late 1990s as social conditions in Japan changed.

– http://intersections.anu.edu.au/issue23/holland.htm

In Tea Ceremony III (1994), Play With Me (1995) and Subway (1994), Mori makes use of traditional female roles and then adds non-traditional details in order to critique the positioning of women within Japanese culture.

According to Mori, her earlier work concentrated on social criticism, addressing issues
of modern-day Japan.

– http://www.rachelschreiber.com/pdfs/CyborgsAvatarsLaaLaaPo.pdf

Mori’s work has been written about a lot, her visual interpretation of Japanese culture seemed to be shocking and new at the time of production. It’s interesting that one text compares her work to that of Miwa Yanagi, another photographer I have been looking at recently. I feel with relation to my project Mori’s work could take me down a hole new route, tackling identity and pop culture idols. But her work doesn’t openly tackle ideas of sex and cuteness which is the area I have decided to focus on.Perhaps the only image that does is Love Hotel (see below) however I will continue my search for other photographers as I am not keen to clutch at straws.

Opening video

The opening video of my project is key, it’s the context for my story and a method of immersing the spectator into the world of Otaku. This is the script i’ve written so far for the opening video. The next step is working out how I will use visual images to support my writing. My reasons for writing each sentence is written in blue.

Key:
Black = The script
Blue = My reasoning behind it
Pink = How I intend to support this visually

Otaku. An anime and manga obsessive who invests all of their time and money into their hobby. – It’s key to start off with a definition when working with an exotic subject matter, the majority of people won’t know what Otaku means. They should however be farmilliar with Anime and Manga, however this may be presumptuous of me, so I will have to use images to provide context as well. – Visually I want the word Otaku to be implanted into peoples minds. Whenever I say Otaku it will be supported with a bold typing of “Otaku”. The definition will be supported with images of Otaku’s rooms, to visually help the viewer see what kind of level of obsession I am talking about.

Taichi Takashita, the man who tried to marry anime character, Mikuru Asahina. OTAKU!
The 1000 people who signed his petition to legalise human and 2D character marriage. OTAKU!
Tsutomu Miyazaki, the man who killed and then mutilated the corpses of 4 young girls in Tokyo. OTAKU! – The purpose of these examples is to put images of what the media depicts as Otaku’s into the spectators mind, put negative images into their head to I can contradict them. – Again I will use the word Otaku on screen whenever I say it, I will also use media used images of each person.

But this isn’t the whole story. What about the millions of self proclaimed Otaku’s online? Are they the childish, psychologically disturbed obsessives we see on TV and in the media? – Starting to turn it on it’s head question this representation. – I have thought about this already and produced an image of 100’s of online Otaku’s avatars from figure.fm.

‘Moe’ is the term Otaku’s use to describe the comfort their obsession brings them. It’s also the title my series of photofilms that intimately explores the lives and experiences of Otaku’s from every continent, and offers them a chance to tell their side of the story, un-judged. – Introducing the project to people, without giving too much away. – Much like with otaku is will bring Moe up on screen in bold font to reinforce this new word, and help establish it as part of my brand.

Choose an Otaku (with links to different Otaku’s stories) – Allowing the viewer to interact with the series, and also experience some context before seeing the stories.

Today’s mission, do some research on successful project intro videos and have a first draft of the video by the end of the day.

Interview with Jonezy

Today I had my interview with Jonezy, it was a great conversations and I really enjoyed learning about his experience as an Otaku. Obviously this audio needs editing, this is the original version.

He also sent me some extra photos, and is working on a 360 photo of his room for me.

The great thing about our conversation is that we had similar experiences and after I had run out of questions we kept on talking for a while.

Questions

Obviously each individual is going to have specific questions, but I want to have a core set running through all the interviews so there is some consistency and a measuring system in place of how different each one is. I will ask all the questions but I might not necessarily use them all, it’s just out of personal interest and a way of allowing the interviewee to open up and feel relaxed. So here are my bread and butter questions.

Digging deeper into their relationship with characters…

-Could you talk me through your first interaction with Japanese culture, if you can remember it.
-What is it about anime or manga that draws you in?
-Which anime/manga do you love and why…
-Could you talk to us about some of your figurines, whats the story behind them?
-Do you feel a connection/ emotionally attached with any of your figurines?
-How much money have you have spent on creating your Otaku Sanctuary?
-Does the majority of attention go into this hobby?
-I want to talk about the idea of the Sanctuary now, my bedroom is very much my place, I come to watch anime and read manga, I rarely do it anywhere else. Do you see your room in the same way or does your interaction with anime go beyond the four walls?

-Would you say your obsession is healthy?
– What do you personally gain from putting this much time and attention into collecting figures and watching anime?
– One thing I think people don’t understand is the difference between Hentai and Anime, the posters on your wall are “panty shots” could you describe why you chose to put these particular posters on your wall?

*For Jonezy specifically*
– In one of your comments on figure.fm you said you have a OCD when it comes to organising your room, do you feel that this part of you is drawn to the idea of perfection within Anime?

Community…

-What’s the fan base like where you are from?
-Do you attend any conventions? If so do you go alone or have friends to go with?
-How important is the Online Otaku community for you?

Pre-judged….

-Have you ever experienced prejudice as an Otaku?
-Why do you think “outsiders” can’t grasp the idea of Otaku?
-Does is ever upset you that you can’t be 100% open with people about the area you love so much?
-Can you describe the feeling you get when you meet another Otaku who likes similar anime randomly?

Normality….
– Could you explain your life outside of your Otaku Sanctuary? What do you do day to day?
– Do you have friends or family who aren’t aware of your love for Anime?
(If so) Why do you keep it from them?

Jonezy

Name: Jonezy

See Jonezy’s room here… http://www.figure.fm/en/post/41690/Another+room.html

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Age: 21

Gender: Male
Town and Country of Birth: England – Trowbridge
Current Location, Town and Country: England – Trowbridge

Favourite Anime & Manga: Anime – Toradora, Manga – Bakuman
Favourite Character: Hard choice between Yui Hirasawa or Nanba Mutta but I’ll have to go with Mutta-Kun : D

Bakuman Manga Review

Nanba Mutta
https://i1.wp.com/3.bp.blogspot.com/-KHZjWeounDA/T-lbHwr6sJI/AAAAAAAADfc/WSPlKZdmli0/s1600/Space_Brothers_%2313_Mutta_Nanba.jpg

Mutta Nanba (南波 六太)Birth date: October 28, 1993.
He went to work for a car design company after graduation. When a manager insulted his younger brother, he gave him a head butt and was fired. After he gets a message from Hibito, he decides to try and become an astronaut.

– http://myanimelist.net/character/55171/Mutta_Nanba

 

Jonezy’s Interactions online.
I’m learning a lot from looking at comments under each Otaku’s work, they tend to reveal a lot about themselves.

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Interviewees

My project is at the point now where I need to start making the videos, and to do this I have got 3 interviews lined up over the next 2 days. These are the people I will be interviewing, and some interesting points I think of when seeing their images.

Wing


What first struck me about Wing’s rom is the organisation and care put into it, In the top image the figurines are colour coded according to the wall art, reds on the left, green in the middle and blue on the right. This is obviously a place wing treasures and puts a lot of time and effort into.

Mim

Whilst Mims room may not be as structurally designed around her figurines she shure does have a lot of them. From *Chibi’s to exact replicas.

*Chibi – Chibi is a negative word for a short person in Japanese, however in the world of anime chibi describes something small and cute. For example in the image above these characters look different in the anime, these figures are chibi versions, small and cute, almost baby-like. Consisting mainly of female characters it would be interesting why Mim has chosen to do this.

Jonezy

Jonezy’s room might not be as full or overbearing as other Otaku’s room but let me assure you his passion is there.

It’s time to start thinking up some questions, somr which I will ask all participants and then more specific ones.

Interactive videos

I decided a while back that when doing photofilms I wanted to make ‘Moe’ a series, but I also think it’s key to have an opening 1/2 mins which establish what is an Otaku and acts as a pitch of the project. However I don’t want this video to become separate from the rest as I want it to be seen before each video. How can I get around this? by making an interactive video.

One of the most famous interactive videos is Deliver me to Hell, in which the viewer (you) decides the actions of a character to try and get them around safely without being killed by a zombie. You are given choices which take you to other videos and then play out the scenario.

With my Otaku videos it would be good to have an opening sequence, explaining the project and then have an option at the end. “Choose an Otaku” the viewer clicks on the image that looks most interesting to them and it takes them to their video, the same happens at the end of that video. And as I add more photofilms I gain more options.

There are interactive games for anything! Including minecraft and fashion.

 

Thinking about the future

My intent was to create a short photofilm on 5/6 Otaku’s however this limits my project, what do I do after this? I definitely want this project to be continuous because it really interests me, so I have decided to base each film on one individual this way the project can grow and develop, eventually I will end up with a collective of short films that I might be able to make into one long documentary, however that is thinking far ahead in the future. I think it will also help to depict them in a positive way, it means I can offer time and attention to each individual and not clump them together as some people have very different interests and reason for their interests.

The project will now be a series.

I have created a vimeo channel specifically for this project – https://vimeo.com/projectmoe