Tokyo Damage Report

reup : Yamanbas!!!

June 12, 2004

they're BACK.

last week i showed some scans of 1999-2000 yamanbas from EGG magazine. like most people, i thought this fad had died out. but in fact, the NEW issue of EGG (july 2004) is pretty much a cover-to-cover report of yamanba revial. they're called MANBAS now, and the new look is half- Michael Alig – raver- Club – Kid – circa – 1994, and half motorcycle gangster Bosozoku/Yanki thug. as if this is not an absurd enough combination, keep in mind that these 'new looks' are just slathered ON TOP of the existing Al Jolson -as – Barbie -as – Drag Queen aesthetic that made this movement so infamous in the first place!

anyway, long story short, the 2004 manbas make the 2000 ones look very tame. so therefore i've posted even more fucking scans than last time. you will not find this shit anywhere else on the web.

toot, toot.

my take on the whole subculture, which i am totally pulling out of my ass, is this:

Originally it was all about looking like malibu barbie. which in its own way is wonderful: mainstream icon produces super underground-culture which horrifies the mainstream — sort of like if you found out that Mickey Mouse was the inspiration for Black Metal.

the most interesting thing about the whole phenomenon: they're unbelivably insular, even compared to other subcultures. everything they do is to impress the 40 or so other manbas on the whole planet. so among manbas, there is this tremendous sense of us-against-the-world solidarity, i think.

but at the same time, the whole reason the look keeps getting more and more weird is that they are ruthlessly competing with each other– who will take it farther? who will be more outrageous? who can show up the other girls?

so there are 2 factors (solidarity and competition) working together that seem at first glance to be opposites. this seems impossible and yet it's been driving the movement for years.

weird and interesting.


 

—- EGG magazine. Yamanba revival issue. I guess in the beginning, the teachers and haters would call the kids 'YAMANBA,' which meant 'mountain witch,' a sort of ugly folklore character. But then the kids started calling THEMSELVES that; shortening it to 'manba.' Sort of like 'nigga-with-an-'a'' kind of thing, and just as deeply trivial. Jesus, why do I even care?? Anyway, MANBA. Also, '-TAN' is the new '-chan,' and the male manbas are called 'CENTA-GUYS,' named after 'center street' in shibuya.

 

—- GLUING SHINY SHIT ON YOUR FACE 101. what's interesting about this is a) it's like PURIKURA. I'm sure you know purikura- the little photo stickers? Well it's common for people to draw on the stickers, coloring people's faces with pens and adding scrawly lines. So this fashion seems to be like REAL LIFE purikura-graffitti. Also what is interesting is the whole GLUING SHINY SHIT ON YOUR FACE thing started with New York Club Kids (patent pending), and this seems to be resurfacing 10 years later in Manba culture.

 

—- KIGURUMI-Japanese for 'wearing an animal costume'. Another example of Club Kid fashion influence.

 

—- the "rainbow tribe", from Tokyo. Club kids. Rest my case. Only question is, when are they going to start hammering fools to death?

 

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—- OSAKA manbas. Note that there's guys there too. This is a new thing, including guys. They add a more dangerous, 'yanki' style vibe to the whole enterprise.

 

—- the 'MANBA SCHOOL,' where aspiring manbas are given a total makeover. Part 'beauty channel,' part boot camp. There is hazing, including nose-torture, which has, I guess, gone mainstream. Anyway, notice the lead woman in the pink suit. Her clothing is 'YANKI' style. (i.e. gangster)

 

—- this 'gal's circle' is another example of YANKI-inspired fashion.

 

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—- here, however, is the look as you USUALLY see it: not the crazy drag queens and blackface, but an almost 'anti-fashion, anti-glamor' look of loose baggy sweatsuits. Often just grey, but often with the Playboy logo also.

 

—- they're usually worn with some kind of little tiny cellphone-purse in front, slung around the neck(inset photo on left). Giraffe-on-a-stick is optional.

 

—- article about manba interior decoration. Yes, they live at home with Mom! That is so adorable.

 

—- this woman's fascination with Pooh Bear-as – Manba is easily the most disturbing thing in the whole magazine.

 

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—- and in addition to the new rave / yanki styles, the 'traditional' Malibu Barbie Drag Queen On A Bender look is still alive and well, you'll be happy to know.

 

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