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Little Boy at Japan Society

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Stare at just the eyes of any Hello Kitty image. You see those empty, lifeless black dots? In battles, they have a name for that gaze...it's called shell shock.

The really interesting, and also unsettling notion behind most Japanese manga and anime art, is that it's origins are based in the post-apocolyptic world of occupied Japan. That's the driving notion behind Little Boy, currently at the Japan Society until July 24th. The name refers to the otaku subculture, translated as "pop-cult fanaticism". These were the children that grew up watching Godzilla movies, seeing entire cities taken out by a terrible monster, born from the effects of nuclear radiation.

Halfway through the show, there is an entire wall devoted to Article 9 of the Japanese constitution:

Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

Makes sense that all those antique tin toys came from Japan, right? It's all they were allowed to do.

This is what you'll find in every room, The physical and psychological damage sustained during World War II is linked to the art and culture of modern-day Japan. There are images of urban devastation and fire breathing monsters positioned adjacent to toy displays pulled right from any Walmart. Stare at the loop of Japanese kid's show Time Bokan, and you'll notice the opening sequence ends in an exploding mushroom cloud

I can't recommend this show highly enough. It's a great lesson in not only the art, but the very psyche of japan.

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2 Comments

Funnily enough, I recently read that the latest trend in Japan amongst young girls is for all-black contact lenses. The effect is to cover the iris and turn the eye into one large pupil, which has the uncanny effect of simulating that doey-eyed look from Anime and Manga.

said Scaramouch on April 28, 2005 4:01 PM.

This isn't the original post I found, but it sums up the subject pretty well.

http://www.style.com/trends/news/editorial/news/data/style_news/042705.xml

said Scaramouch on April 29, 2005 12:44 PM.
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