Monday, November 17, 2008

Big Eyes and Manga

Have you ever noticed how all Japanese manga (Japanese comic books) characters have large eyes? Well, one theory is that the influx of U.S. cultural productions during occupation from 1945 to 1952 greatly influenced the Japanese consumer.

Japan was a defeated nation and its people accepted this defeat with dignity. They paid great respect for the victors, to the point of even mimicking western culture. So, when manga artists of this period developed their characters, they drew huge eyes to represent westerners. One of the earliest creations was Astro Boy by Osamu Tezuka. And the tradition has carried to this day, affecting even other art forms like anime (Japanese animation).

Given the obvious appeal of manga with its 481 billion yen market in Japan and a $175–200 million in the U.S., it makes sense that these comics would influence young minds. Manga has moved from the comic book pages to the real world. I am speaking of a huge phenomenon called the "shippuden look" (I'm guessing referring to the immensely popular Naruto: Shippuden manga/anime series) . This involves transforming oneself to look like a comic book characters (like cosplay but not). The most important aspect of this look requires recreating the ginormous eyes. There is even a market for contact lenses with artificial color and enlarged irises. Below is a tutorial video for achieving these exaggerated western eyes.

Honestly, I don't even know where to begin to explain the phenomenon. Should I take the psychological, historical or artistic slant to begin theorizing. No time, must finish writing this book that is kicking my ass. So, you, yeah, I'm talking to YOU, tell me what you make of all this? Thanks for helping out.

1 comment:

Mochi Mochi said...

all i can say is can anyone bind my feet, put lamp black on my teeth to make them disappear, stack rings around my neck to push my collar bone down and appear to elongate my neck, and then give me a bunch of tattoos, body piercings, and a little scarification too. oh yeah - i'd like that eyelid operation, and some new green eyeliner... once i get my mohawk i'll be ready to take my sharpie dog for a walk. we humans are if nothing else committed to changing our appearance on the whim of fashion and racial (racist) comparisons.

that japan choses to adopt a new wide-eye'd look for itself is interesting. i wont make generalizations about the country. all i can say is they do appear to lead the world in fashion.