Apart from the palace and blondeness, of course, I see many parallels between our lives: marrying a foreign prince, acclimating to his world, and wearing thick make-up. The movie looks almost as dramatic as my life.
Slutty Xmas outfits are not just for women
I love how clearly this packaging communicates beyond language. Donki (Don Quijote) offers a wide selection of slutty Xmas outfits with corsets, bunny ears, Playboy bunny brand, pink or black. This one clearly is large enough for a guy in make-up.
Billboards offer dozens of male hosts, exotic yet commodified
That hair and make-up cannot come cheap.
Gallons of make-up, tight suits, & huge hair
Definitely, Coming of Age Day is the happiest day of the year. Winter is never more festive.
Am I wearing enough eye make-up?
In Tokyo, there are constant reminders, to the male population, that we could be working much harder to look good. Why are your natural eyebrows still visible, are you wearing enough eye-liner and shade, has your face been covered in pancake make-up and contoured? I often feel overwhelmingly inadequate as I move through public space and am reminded of all that I could be.
Make-up lessons for job interviews
Major manufacturer Kao is providing mass lessons to young women who are seeking post-college jobs. Is make-up about “expressing your personality,” displaying “your intellect or enthusiasm,” or maing “a good impression on a job interviewer who is about your father’s age”? One girl learned to take off her false eyelashes and thick eyeliner to land a job. Reading this “news story” is like some weird pre-feminist Time Warp.
Femme hotness in countryside
I realize I don’t show much female fashion in Japan. However, the countryside convinces me that the world may not have sufficient cosmetics for long. Heavy make-up, piles of blond hair, dark tans, ciggies and traditional costume. Wow!
At the event we attended, there was a large group of women wearing traditional outfits with neon blue leg-warmers. Japan, you are the mistress of mix-and-match fashion. I love it!
Even the swan boats in this country town have luscious long lashes!
Smappa: Mega host club with Lohas twist
Kabukicho is now full of ads for this new (?) host club called Smappa!, which seems a blatant rip-off of SMAP, the boy band now entering middle-age. The Smappa ad for Shun-kun above hilariously promises 夜のロハス, night-time lohas.
Lohas means Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, and applies to a 30 something female demographic. What has made hairspray and men’s make-up sustainable? I think actually, like the club name, it is a blatant attempt to connect with larger pop culture themes (like a bad porn title that mimics a Hollywood blockbuster).
From their incredibly complete Smappa! website, I have borrowed these staff images. Scroll to the bottom to see their onsen/ryoukan holiday. These boys are well-documented. Check their Smappa website for more!
Behind the scenes cosplay
Last weekend I helped my online moe language teacher, Bangin sensei, with his cosplay for the third time. Unlike the past two times– one in a small park, the other in a cosplay event– this time I would photograph Bangin and his friend Keith doing a Boys Love cosplay.
I love how Bangin originally explained his request by email:
Because this cosplay is BL, I would have to pretend to touch, kiss, or rape(not really of course!)…whatever. My friend is sure about this, so if you can accept it, I would like you to help us.
“How come I am uke?!”
On Monday, I had the supreme pleasure of helping my internet friend Bangin, the master teacher of otaku vocabulary for the English-speaking world, cosplay Kyon from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi.
Bangin’s idea was to have Kyon, the narrator, provide a tour of Otome Road, the fujoshi (female geek) world capital in Ikebukero. My role was to take hundreds of photos. It was great fun since I’ve long admired Bangin’s blog, and I’d watched seven English subbed episodes online between the time he asked me and when we did the cosplay.
A brief summary of the manga and anime story: Kyon, the narrator, is a high school freshman who is trying to grow up. He falls under the spell of a dominant female classmate who organizes the SOS Brigade to make contact with extraterrestrials, time travelers, and ESP experts. Basically, she’s looking for magic in the mundane world, a lovely concept. The story has plenty of otaku moe (school girls in uniform, including one who is used as sexual bait to gain a computer, new members and attention), and a slash fan story of Kyon’s romance with the “mysterious (male) transfer student Koizumi.”
My National Science Foundation and Fulbright-sponsored university research with Rio de Janeiro drag queens in the early 1990s only partly prepared me for the role of cosplay photographer. Make-up, costume, fantasy, role-playing, utter seriousness, a depth of knowledge and passion– all to be expected.
What surprised me was the concern to not be “too loud” or too noticed while performing. I had thought it would be fun to interact with the butler cafe doorman, or the many fujoshi pulling their wheelie bags full of manga and doujinshi (fan slash manga). This was not Bangin’s idea at all. And, oddly, no fujoshi approached us to ask about Kyon.
Here you can read Bangin’s post about Otome Road. It’s even funnier than I anticipated because Bangin writes the whole travelogue in Kyon’s voice– being “forced” by Haruhi, and warned by Koizumi about the catastrophe of closed spaces. His introduction ends with, “Today is going to be my worst day in all of my life. Will you follow me? I will show around.” There are many photos, observations and explanations!
The finale of the tour is very amusing. Across from the dozens of shops catering to fujoshi is a small, somewhat uncared-for-park, where the young customers open up their purchases (and homeless people make their home, which reminded me of San Francisco).
The photo at the top of the post shows Kyon’s shock and horror that he is the subject of a Koizumi x Kyon doujinshi. Bangin provided the quote, “How come I am uke?!”