Heyyy, my Timeless Toyboxers, what’s up? Is it time for another weekly mega-broadcast yet? Well, duh, I guess so! For this first week of April, we time-travel through shiny slave-driven “Pop Anime” trends, wide-eyed “Art Deco” lolitas, retro-armored “Star Wars” steampunk, sentimental “Firefly” fanart, and a random chrome-plated cart of orangy antics, lol. Did I mention time-travel? Haha, yeah, I did. Well, without further ado, fine-tune the station, grab your favorite bag of popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the five-ringed circus show…
Part 1 of 5 > Trends, Slaves & Shiny New Things
Hahaha, wow! In the last few days, the brand-new high-school comedy anime K-On!, produced by Kyoto Animation (KyoAni), has stormed and flooded the otaku scene! Not only on Danny Choo’s website, but also on Sankaku Complex (NSFW)! While the premiere episode pinched all of the cute, clever and captivating points of a memorable “pop anime” series (not unlike KyoAni’s “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya” and “Lucky Star”), is “K-On!” really anything new or different from what we’ve all seen before? Hehe, probably not. But who really cares, right? As long as it’s cute, clever and captivating, lol.
As the cunning character Lelouch Lamperouge (of the epic sci-fi anime “Code Geass“) once observed, the Japanese masses were notably susceptible to societal trends of the moment. In other words, “slaves to trends” or “addicts of fads”. In fact, this could probably apply to countless otaku throughout the world, especially those who can’t get enough of the newest broadcasts and the latest releases, hehe. While I may not closely stick to the “cutting edge” of anime, I’m probably not too many steps behind either. So I can understand the meaning behind Lelouch’s words. Separate from the more-general and less-fad-based “escapism from reality” (into the old or new), there’s a negative implication that the “addicted” otaku masses are “weak-willed” or even “fear the old, outdated and obsolete” in their pursuit of shiny new things. Which may be true for many. But why the intense fascination with the shiny and new?
Here’s my take as a fellow otaku, lol. While aspects that are characteristic of an addiction can be argued, the need to “fill a new loss or emptiness” is not merely solitary or secluded. On the contrary, the condition is shared among other fans or followers. In pursuing the shiny and new, there exists a “common bond” to participate in a social collective or phenomenon that is larger than oneself, not unlike the bonds of traditional sports fans or musical concert-goers. Admittedly, the biggest distinction with anime phenomena is their “not too short yet not too long” life-spans. While an anime-series broadcast may not be as brief as a single-sitting two-hour film, the week-to-week familiarity of the more-adored series ultimately reveals an almost-painful brevity (mirroring withdrawal-like symptoms). Moreover, since such broadcasts may only span a few months or half a year, these periods pale in comparison to the several years or decades typical of a longer-lasting musical band or sports team. Hence, the deceptive appearance of a wild addiction leaping from fad to fad to fad.
But here’s the thing. In a nation where the turbulent tug-of-war between timeless traditions and updated technologies seems more tumultuous than ever, is Japan even more susceptible to both the “escapist” yet “unifying” attraction of sparkling new things?
P.S. Yeah, I know, I liked “K-On!” too, lol.
Part 2 of 5 > Range Murata Lolis & Art Deco
Speaking of traditions and technologies, my Timeless Toyboxers, remember my question last month? “Which should be my next anime-figure photoshoot?” Well, based on the picks by Jenn-chan (she chose B), Coco-chan (she chose D), and Kris-chan (she chose D too), the winner was Choice D, the “Range Murata Lolis”! Yup, the Couch Girl and the Ribbon Girl, lol. As a sidenote, while Meimi-chan and Mimi-chan both loved the gorgeous Sana from “Pia Carrot”, neither of them explicitly stated Choice B, the “Batwing Babes”, lol. Thus, I present my “Range Murata Lolis” photoshoot!
Here’s a mesmerizing angle of Ribbon Girl (Beagle, 1/8th-scale) kneeling in her maid-like dress and boots, my 80th figure (of 92) in July 2008.
Ribbon Girl was beautifully designed by Renji “Range” Murata, a Japanese artist “known for his unique style of combining Art Deco and Japanese anime elements”.
According to Wikipedia, Art Deco was a popular international art design movement from 1925 until 1939.
Like I said, mesmerizing. Feel free to enlarge the shot, hehe.
Even from the side, her details are simple yet gorgeous. The colors of her hair and ribbons offer a stunning contrast to her black, gray and white outfit.
Now let’s take a closer look at her friend on the so-called couch, lol.
A little closer, lol.
That’s better, lol. Here’s a tantalizing shot of Couch Girl (Beagle, 1/10th-scale) lying in her scantily-black outfit, my 81st figure (of 92) in August 2008.
Oops, something is caught between Ribbon Girl’s knees, lol.
A quiet moment within the sky.
I gotta admit. That’s quite a unique orange couch!
And quite revealing too, lol.
Another quiet moment beneath the flying battleships.
Yup, flying battleships, lol.
In fact, if you’ve ever seen Murata-san’s conceptual design work on the retro-futuristic anime “Last Exile“, then flying battleships shouldn’t be new to you!
Another gorgeous angle of Ribbon Girl.
Another pretty shot of Couch Girl.
But it would’ve been better had Murata-san given them names!
Luckily, the girls of “Last Exile” had names, lol.
In this shots, I wonder what kinds of thoughts these girls are thinking?
Couch Girl: “How long are you going to stare?”
Ribbon Girl: “Where’s our battleship heading?”
Ahh, without a doubt, I love the epic atmosphere created by this background wallpaper!
The retro-futuristic battleships fit the retro Art-Deco style perfectly!
Couch Girl: “Are we there yet?”
Couch Girl: “Ahh, the sky breeze feels good!”
Ribbon Girl: “What’s going on along the horizon?”
Couch Girl: “Probably another battle. Another war.”
Couch Girl: “Can you stay with me a little longer before I go?”
Despite their small scales, the detail is impressive!
Especially, the curves, lol.
You know what what I mean, lol.
Yup, stunning, hehe.
Haha, an amazing photo mixing Ribbon Girl with Couch Girl’s couch. You gotta enlarge this one!
Wow, the mega-post’s opening image! You gotta love this one too!
And then a closer view.
Wow again! I mean, it’s incredible shots like these which makes me wonder if I ever should’ve become a real photographer. The subject, the background, the composition all just fit so beautifully!
Another epic shot.
Ribbon Girl gazes nervously yet hopefully toward the future as the battleships sail ahead.
Nervously yet hopefully.
Ribbon Girl: “Will the girl-in-black ever come back?”
Wow, those 40+ photos just flew by! From “shiny new things” and “retro-futuristic lolitas”, let’s sail on to even more retro-futuristic “steampunk”!
Part 3 of 5 > Retro-Future & Steampunk
So what’s “steampunk”? If you’ve never heard of this science-fiction term, it parallels the term “cyberpunk”, but deals with steam-age technologies instead of cyberspace technologies. In fact, chronologically speaking, Art Deco evolved towards the end of the Victorian Era. So they aren’t as far apart as I’d once thought. According to Wikipedia:
Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy and speculative fiction that … denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used — usually the 19th century, and often Victorian-era England — but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions … or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.
Cool, huh? But why “steampunk”? Well, it’s easy. During my Art Deco and Last Exile image searches to find an epic background for my “Range Murata Lolis” photoshoot, I finally realized that I was stumbling across tons of “steampunk” imagery. So I shifted my searches to “steampunk”. And guess what? Along the way, I think I got addicted to the style (again), lol.
Here’s another classic example of Range Murata‘s Art-Deco-anime style.
Here’s a random but stunning steampunk outfit.
If I could sum up the “steampunk” fashion in a few words, it’s basically “lots of goggles, gears and chrome”, hahaha.
LOL, what did I tell ya? Here’s an impressive band of “steampunk” cosplayers from DragonCon 2008. Amazing!
Gotta love the details! Feel free to enlarge the shot!
Haha, “lots of goggles, gears and chrome”!
But I gotta say, the chrome colors and mechanical details look amazing!
But that’s not all! During my steam-powered exploration, I tripped over some “Star Wars steampunk” art! Here’s the retro-futuristic rendition of Darth Vader!
Here’s a retro-mechanical Storm Trooper!
A slightly different retro-armored Storm Trooper.
Last but definitely not least, a retro-fashioned Princess Leia! Whoa!
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… Game developers began working on a secret project that combines two popular genres into what they call a recipe for success… Star Wars Steampunk!”
Holy George Lucas! I mean, holy frak! From “Art Deco lolitas” to “Star Wars steampunk”, is it any wonder I’m getting addicted (again) to the retro-futuristic genre?
Part 4 of 5 > Firefly Fanart Flashback
Yup, again, lol. When I say I’m getting addicted *again*, it’s because I was once obsessed with retro-futuristic science-fiction once before! Namely, the 2002-2003 sci-fi TV series Firefly. Here’s one of the most perfect “Firefly” wallpapers ever, hehe. Glorious!
In fact, from July to November 2004, I directed and participated with several other writers in a team “role-writing fanfic” called “Firefly-Class Rose“. On top of that, I also drew fanfic character designs based on our fanfic. Kinda cool! No, not just cool. “Shiny!” Sorry, just a bit of “Firefly” slang, lol. Here’s the ship’s doctor played by one writer.
Here’s the mechanic played by another writer.
Based on various real-life women, here’s Miriam, played by me, lol.
Based on various real-and-fantasy women, here’s the Anglo-Asian genius pilot, Akiko “Lucky” Yoshikawa, played by me too. Almost two years before I discovered downloadable anime in 2006, lol. Then more than four years after creating Lucky’s character, I told Mimi-chan that her personality coincidentally and amazingly reminds me of her!
And of course, here’s the half-drunk half-badass Aussie-Asian Captain Jacob “Jayman” Mandara of the Firefly-Class “Rose”. Played by me, duh. Check out his (my) green bio-mechanical left eye!
Miriam and her late dad’s best buddy, “Uncle Jake”. Yup, me.
The motley crew of the “Rose”. Oh yeah! Feel free to enlarge the epic poses!
Whoa, hehe. What a wild-west ride! For more of the fanfic, check out the “Firefly-Class Rose“. From “Art Deco lolitas” to “Star Wars steampunk” to “Firefly fanart”, has the steam-powered retro-futuristic odyssey finally reached the end of the train-tracks?
Part 5 of 5 > Lisa’s Orange Room
A-ha! The fifth and final leg of our anachronistic journey! Recalling my Frumpy Orange Photoshoot and Orange Christmas posts from over a year ago, here’s the next “Orange” installment, lol. After all, “oranges are orange”, aren’t they? (Inside joke, hehe.)
Hahaha, check out Guiness!
Come on, Guiness! Look at the damn camera!
Finally! Umm, vacant stares.
Epic Guiness! Not-so-epic Lisa.
What? Haha, what is Guiness doing?
Ah, artsy shot.
Go-Go, Guiness Punch!
Haha, and that’s it, my Traveling Toyboxers! In five blinks of a gear-goggled eye, our mega-broadcast time-travelled through shiny slave-driven “Pop Anime” trends, wide-eyed “Art Deco” lolitas, retro-armored “Star Wars” steampunk, sentimental “Firefly” fanart, and a random chrome-plated cart of orangy antics! Let’s not forget to thank Ribbon Girl, Couch Girl, Steampunk Leia, Lucky Yoshikawa, Orange Lisa and of course, Guiness the Menace! Did I forget anything? How was the popcorn?
Till next broadcast. Peace. Out.
Ribbon Girl: “Will the girl-in-black ever come back?”