Tokyo Damage Report

reup ; 2004 design festa fall

fall design festa , Nov 14, 2004!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Design festa is a twice-a-year event where over a thousand artists come from all over the world and bring art in every format – dance, music, sculpture, painting, performance, etc. was not as good as last time, I’m afraid.or the time before that . . . Some heavy hitters like mari-chan and donut-bunny and panda-tako weren’t there, and there was much less GIANT CRAZY SCULPTURES THAT SHOT PROJECTILES than usual. They got replaced by like 100 booths selling hippy jewelry and homemade hats and arts-and-crafts bullshit. Plus the crowd was (comparatively) normal-looking too. Hmm . .including me. I must be slipping.

in the 2-dimensional art part, the total domination of Adobe Illustrator continues. It is like oxygen for these people. Jesus. What is new is, everything has gotten more swirly since last time. It’s like swirly is the new cute or something. But it works! The crazy loopy lines add a kind of organic liveliness to the soulless digital purgatory of Illustrator art. But that’s not even the main news.

The main news is this: THERE ARE NO BOY CHARACTERS. Even the token new boy characters, the ‘oppai twins’, have boobies on their heads (and you might reasonably inquire, what is up with that? But this is a whole nother topic). It’s like, without having any kind of feminist voice at all, Japanese illustrators have accomplished what generations of American radical lesbians have tried and failed to do: THE TOTAL ELIMINATION OF MALE IMAGES. . But at what cost? One can imagine a female Lucifer (Lucyfer?) making a satanic pact with feminism: “the good news is, the macho male role models and male domination of the media is gone. The bad news is. . . all characters now are big-eyed waifs with rayguns and panties, BWA HA HA HA HAHAHAHAH!!!!” (POOF!) (OF SMOKE). Guys have always draw cute girls. But now girls also draw cute girls, and it’s often more pervy than the guys’.


Which brings me from design festa to the topic of japan’s pop culture in general. There is a trend brewing, not in just one genre but in many genres at once. In hentai manga, the cute girls are dismembered or turned into hideous mutants, but their kawaii faces and big gleaming eyes are still smiling at you. In character design, cute girls start melting or cute animals develop mouths full of human blood. (i.e. the popular GLOOMY bear or the very influential work of marichan) In fashion, Goth Lolitas have evolved into something called GoroLoli ? Grotesque Lolita. Gorololis mix the usual Innocent Alice In Wonderland fashion with medical gauze and time-consuming wound makeup and I am TOTALLY NOT MAKING THIS UP I SAW IT ON TV. Anyway my point is, when this many different aspects of underground culture ALL show the same thing at the same time, it reflects some kind of simmering discontent within the culture as a whole.

I seriously think Japan is struggling with cuteness. They are suffocating in it. They want something new but that’s like telling a guy, “hey, air is boring! Let’s breathe something else!” so all this kawaii/kowaii (cute and scary) stuff is the Japanese underground culture trend. The underground is like a laboratory where they try to do risky experiments to solve problems of mainstream culture. Right now the underground in all its various facets is trying interesting and novel ways to break out of the prison of cute, and when they find a successful way of breaking out, I guarantee that will go mainstream very fast!



ant farm made of test tubes and science equipment, for smarter ants.


bansai tree made from sculpted bread


lowrider bike.


booth for the 'oopai brothers' (boob brothers), two junior high school students with breasts for heads and nipples for hair. . . and their cat who is just a head with small tentacle legs.


the EVIL ASS. Maybe I should not have taken this picture. 'aw mom, evill is just a brand name!' shit, my 'stalin claus superstar' rock opera is finally coming true. I'm scared.


fashion show! fishing nets and flowers for eyes.


a bride?




the models came out one by one. . .and then started blowing bubbles!


. .. they kept coming down the runway until there was a whole rainbow.


after that, they formed a line. And a lady in white sort of, um, slalomed through the line and stood at the front. Then the other models took turns removing their corsages and pinning them to the back of the white lady. Then, at the end, the white lady turned around and walked away, trailing this garland of rainbow corsages behind her. it was pretty great.


Minnie mouse ears and vampire-fang surgical mask.


in the middle is Michele, the French parrot. Under him is my pal Halfahead. On the right is a kangaroo. this kind of whole-body pajama costume is called KIGURUMI. You sometimes see yamanbas wearing them on the street. It was my first time to meet a kigurumi person in real life though, and I asked her if they had like kigurumi parties or shit like that and she looked at me like that was an absurd question.


men's hip hop style. In the 80's vanilla ice was getting his eyebrow notched. And now it's gotten out of control.


this guy took pictures of like 100 gigolos and then photoshopped his face on all of them! and THEN he made POGS out of the altered photos. Here, then, is possibly the world's first gigolo pog game. Fuck I love this country.



me with the Outer Space Duck. That's my glasses I'm grabbing.


Lucha Libre (Mexican prowrestling)- style panda rasslin' mask!


best part of the whole show : they keep all the smokers in a little glass-walled prison cage! Fucking awesome.


planet made of umbrellas.

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