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Saaya Irie on Cover of Weekly Playboy

Okay, let me just come out and say it: lately I have been totally wrong on this “junior idol” boom. (For those that just tuned in, the “junior idol” thing is a new Japanese sub-market of the semi-porn industry that puts girls aged 9-17 in very revealing bikinis.) A week or so ago, I wasted everyone’s time whining about a 17 year-old bikini model advertised as “she may be a high school student, but she’s an adult E-cup!” I tried to parry off “cultural relativist” attacks and “the UK is worse” blows, but all of my huffing and puffing was in vain.

I clearly should have saved my outrage: this week, 14 year-old Saaya Irie is on the cover of Weekly Playboy. “She may be a middle-school student, but she’s an adult F-cup.” The text doesn’t say this, but who needs to say anything! This is a 14 year-old girl in a bikini on the cover of a magazine featuring lots of naked women and articles praising prostitution. This is so blatantly wrong that I don’t even need to feign sarcastic contempt. Wait, too late.

Saaya has found support from Weekly Playboy since she was about 12, but this may be her first cover. Nothing like a 14 year-old girl to catch some eyeballs. I mean, why not use her? She’s finally hit 14! Back when I went to middle school, a lot of the girls in my class were being invited to pose in skimpy bikinis for nationally-syndicated men’s magazines from mainstream publishers. You too, right?

Okay, enough crying wolf for today. Feel free to tear apart my insanely puritan outlook in the comments section.

W. David MARX
September 29, 2008

Morgan Geist


I know my involvement with Neojaponisme seems random at best. but just stick with me here. I recently left the ML hive to go out an interview the musician Morgan Geist. He has nothing to do with Japan, nor does this interview. I just happened to be a fan, and this might be my first piece of actual journalism. The article was lovingly edited by Nik Mercer of Anthem Magazine, as the actual interview spanned over hours. Morgan Geist has some interesting things to say and is worth the read if you like electronic music, or just reading about being an active musician, producer, label manager, and more.

Anthem Magazine, Morgan Geist interview

Trevor SIAS
September 29, 2008

Fake / Busted

I recently saw the Mythbusters episode that debunks this clip. They didn’t have the balls (or screen time or interest) to say it, but the lesson was: Japanese TV is yet again faking another reality segment. No wonder Japanese TV stations so aggressively take down YouTube clips or otherwise the rest of the world would be constantly submitting this nonsense to scientific testing. Pretty soon Adam and Jamie are going to be using ballistic gel to determine Kimutaku’s actual height.

Wouldn’t it be great if Japanese TV had a version of Mythbusters that just busted Japanese variety show segments? You could call it 『怪しい電通』.

Do Japanese TV shows ever have to come out and say, oh, by the way, the guy was on a rope? If Japanese TV was a presidential candidate, it’d be McCain. Always assuring to have a reality-show entertainment complex so happy to embody caveat emptor.

W. David MARX
September 26, 2008

Marxy on Visvim

home_nylonguys.jpg I have a new article on streetwear brand Visvim and its designer Nakamura Hiroki in the new Nylon Guys. On newsstands now.

W. David MARX
September 24, 2008

Tokyo Art Beat 4th Anniversary

I’ll be Djing the TAB 4th anniversary shindig while mega-homey Shane Lester VJs. Should be a fun time. Print out the official TAB page about it to get a discount at the door.

September 23, 2008

Ein Gespenst geht um in Shizuoka

Tower Revolution

I’m pretty sure the train poster I saw for this project didn’t specify a romanization of Maakusu: za tawaa. Highlight of my morning commute.

September 20, 2008

Continued High School Lust

Lest you think that mainstream Japanese men have ceased to lust after underage females in bikinis, note this Zakzak cover girl (link most likely NSFW) and tagline, “She may be a high school student, but she’s an adult E-cup!” I guess the abstracted breast size overrides the pesky age issue. Buy the DVD and support the 17 year-old model’s parents’ dream of one day owning a yacht!

W. David MARX
September 19, 2008

Click logo.

Since most folks don’t seem to notice, click the logo at the top of the page. What you are seeing is a delineation of the formal representation of the の kana from 1910 to the present, executed in a logo super-family format. The MetaのTame identity is featured in upcoming books on identity design from Princeton Architectural Press (USA) and Sandu Media (China).

September 19, 2008

Los Logos 4

I have a bunch of logos that designed in the new book, Los Logos 4 from Die Gestalten Verlag.

September 16, 2008

Japan Fashion Week

I wrote a review of Japan Fashion Week for Business of Fashion. Also check MEKAS. for more collection reports.

W. David MARX
September 16, 2008

Waiting for the Official Japanese Announcement

We at Néojaponisme have all been totally shocked by the reports of Japanese art director Noda Nagi’s sudden death last Sunday.

I hope to have a chance to write something about her very prominent role in recent Tokyo creative culture soon. For the moment though, I have been wondering when any announcement will be made to the Japanese public? So far, only English language blogs have reported anything and facts are hard to come by. Is this kind of delay normal in the Japanese media?

W. David MARX
September 13, 2008

Free & Easy

GQ gives Japanese mag Free & Easy some unexpected props in this video. They had a great issue on classic ’60s Japanese brand VAN a few months back.

W. David MARX
September 10, 2008

Weather as Revenge

I am hearing reports that this unending, awful hard rain/mugginess Tokyo weather is the gods’ revenge for the new tunnel in Mt. Takao. Thanks a lot, humans.

W. David MARX
September 7, 2008

Notes on Kobe Collection

I’m heading to Tokyo Girls Collection (TGC) tomorrow, which in some circles, is a far, far better thing than the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby and the Lower Oakland Roller Derby Finals all rolled into one. This is the kind of Japanese youth culture extravaganza to do up either (A) as a participant-observer anthropologist heading towards the dissertation or (B) totally gonzo, but alas, I am the wrong gender, three decimeters too tall, and too suspiciously foreign to blend in. And judging by the draconian press rules provided by fax, I will most likely spend the nine hours trying not to get blacklisted for life. There will be real deal celebrities in attendance, which means a tighter crackdown than during the G8 summit. God forbid someone snap a unapproved picture of a famous model and post it on a “we-bblog.”

Last Saturday, Team Mekas headed over to Kobe Collection, which is the exact same format as TGC but with a laid-back underdog charm. I finished typing up my relatively dry account here (with some nice photos from Sean Wood), but I had some leftover observations that needed airing before my perspective was tainted with another “real clothes” celebration.

1) There is a Japanese non-arty, but fashionable aesthetic and it can be boiled down to ultra-bright artificial sparkles. Everything sparkles like a tiara. This has an accompanying sound effect in the high treble range.

2) In the US and UK, fashion follows music preference, but in Japan, fashion seems to be the main course. Come to think, Kobe Collection and Tokyo Girls Collection are long overdue. But fashion shows are generally an inefficient way to actually view clothing. And putting everyone in a stadium doesn’t help much. Fashion ends up being the anchor to bring together young women in celebration of models, TV celebrities, and music, but it is a good way to justify spending the money to come.

3) One of the official Kobe Collection goods is a Tartan check bag with the button “We are Fashion Victim” [sic]. Notice the “we” rather than “I” in embracing the epithet. To be honest though, I am not sure “fashion victim” accurately describes a large group of girls who dress in a relatively static way that revolves around their own inherent tastes. The magazines may all say “leopard print” and they all wear leopard print, but they like leopard print anyway. And they generally look good! The whole point about “fashion victims” is that they look ridiculous after following the extremes of the high-fashion world. The girls in ViVi just look like they are maximizing their style potential.

4) This is the kind of event that older men take their favorite hostess/mistress to.

5) No real-deal gyaru at Kobe Collection. I doubt they could pay the ticket price.

6) I thought the appeal of the show would be seeing the famous magazine models “in the flesh,” but they are so far away from everyone that we rely on the jumbotron. And once they are projected up on the screen, they are mediated and feel just as distant as they do in the magazines.

7) Huge cheers for Yoshikawa Hinano of all people. Bigger cheers for the ridiculously diminutive “tough guy” celebrities, the transsexual model Tsubaki Ayana, and the comically overweight girl who does an impression of Beyonce.

8 ) When did all the models do their orthodontic work? They all have perfect smiles, which is not exactly common in Japan. Most of the models are also extremely talented at smiling in a friendly yet evocative way. I no longer take this skill for granted.

9) The soundtrack is fun. “I Kissed a Girl” works and makes me think: no J-Pop artist would ever be allowed to make that song. And yet, they need its bad-girl charm to sell clothing. Later “Sunday Bloody Sunday” comes on and I remember how much I liked it when I was 9. I think someone used a Pylon song too.

10) About 20 brands show and they basically look exactly the same. And I am an ideal candidate for learning the differences. But it’s impossible.

11) Basically everything is an advertisement, and yet, you pay entry price. There are “interviews” with the models between brands, and they talk about special pink Visa cards and other products.

12) When did Urahama Arisa get so tall? When did Capsule start being Daft Punk instead of Pizzicato Five?

13) Ebi-chan was #1 for a reason. All the JJ girls are attractive enough, but they generally look kind of mean. Ebi-chan had an “adult cuteness” but could stay pleasant looking.

14) Who thought that “Pearly Gates” was a good name for a golf brand? Is golf now a metaphor for death? Do only nearly dying old people play golf?

15) Some white models come out at some point for Shiseido and they feel like representatives of a boring, adult world that has nothing to do with anyone.

16) I am no Kato Miriya fan, but girl can sing.

17) Secret guests: Leah Dizon and Ueto Aya. Ueto is brought out in the grand finale, and the response is tepid. Fancy this: the girls liked the celebrity guys best. So long for girl power.

W. David MARX
September 6, 2008


I got confused one night when I couldn’t sleep this past spring and treated Flickr like a blog. Mixed results.

September 5, 2008