Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential!!

Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential is a must for anyone curi-
ous about the girls who populate Japan’s pop culture. For
years schoolgirls have shown up in internationally popular
anime and manga such as Sailor Moon, The Melancholy
of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Blood: The Last Vampire.
There are kick-ass schoolgirl characters in videogames
like Street Fighter; Quentin Tarantino included one as an
assassin in Kill Bill; and magazines such as WIRED keep an eye
on the trends emerging among these stylish teens.

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Remembering Emil Goh

I last met my friend Emil in Tokyo on 15th February 2008, when he was making a visa run from Seoul were he lived. I’d arranged to meet him outside the Starbucks at Scramble Crossing in front of Shibuya station. I remember spotting him in the crowd giving me a wave and a smile as he crossed the road. He was wearing jeans and a black V-necked sweater over a white collared shirt. His hair was longer than it had been when we knew each in Sydney. But that had been several years before. It was great to see him and we gave each other a big hug.

I remember he told me he’d been making trips to update his visa every three months for the many years he’d been living in Seoul. I thought that showed how determined he was to keep working there as an artist. He said he usually went to Hong Kong but had left it too late this time and could only get a ticket to Tokyo. I’m glad he did, because I got to see him. He laughed and told me he reckoned the customs guys in Seoul never gave him a hard time because they thought he was a second generation Korean who kept coming back to visit his relatives. He wasn’t. He was Malaysian. I think we once talked about how I lived in Malaysia as a kid. I wish I could remember more about that conversation, I think he knew the school I went to, but that may have been someone else.

When we met in Tokyo he was determined to go to a ramen (noodle) restaurant he had read about on the web. It was late and I remember standing with him outside the closed Apple store in Shibuya, he was able to get WiFi on his iPhone and looked up the address on Google maps. It was just down the street, Ichi-Ban Ramen, I think it’s called. I’d never heard of the place even though I live here. Each person sits in a private, box-like cubicle and orders their noodles anonymously. The servers are hidden behind curtains. It was typical of Emil to track something fun like that down and share it. We leant out from our cubicles and between slurps of ramen and sips of beer we spoke of the things we’d been doing over the years. His work as an artist and lecturer sounded fascinating, and I swore I would go visit him in Seoul.

I remember after we ate ramen we headed to Combine in Naka Meguro where we met a few people I know for drinks. I wish I could remember more, but the evening kind of fades into the distance after that. I’m sure Emil would have remembered. I wish I could ask him.

Sadly Emil died the other day in Seoul. Much too young and much too soon. As a mutual friend said, Emil was a doer. I hope that is something I can learn from him.
Rest in Peace Emil, I will miss you.

More about Emil:

Emil’s OzArt profile

Emil’s page in the Face to Face exhibit

An interview with Emil about his CyWorld project

Otaku Encyclopedia Launch Party

From left: Akiyama Masumi (designer), Asaki Katsuhide (photographer), Patrick W. Galbraith (author), Andrew Lee (editor), and Akashiro Miyu (illustrator).

We had a great turn out for the launch party of The Otaku Encyclopedia last Friday. The party was held at a maid café in Akihabara, called Café Schatzkiste. The poor maids were only expecting around thirty people to show up so didn’t know what hit them when the hordes of otaku-bloggers, media, and minor celebrities started to poor through the doors. At least fifty people must have shown up and the place was packed.

I managed to convince Patrick to show up in costume, and it was great to finally have the team who made the book together in one room. Akashiro Miyu, who created “Moé-chan” the book’s cute character, made a special trip from Osaka, and it was great to finally meet her. Asaki, who took most of the portraits in the book, and Akiyama Masumi who designed it, were also there.

Some of the other people who showed up included Danny Choo, who showed up in his Stormtrooper outfit, and Anno Haruna the game idol who is interviewed in the book.

Quite a few people were snapping away throughout the event and you can see their pix here:

Photos by Steven Nagata
Photos by Pietro Zuco
Photos by Jonny Li

And here’s what people have said about the event or the book on other blogs so far:

Danny Choo
Anno Haruna (she’s the game idol interviewed on page 86 of the book – Japanese only):
Paul Papadimitriou
Zuko
The Western World
Kotaku
Akiba blog (Japanese only)
Hobby Blog
Anime Vice

The Otaku Encyclopedia!


I am finally emerging from under the mountain of moé* I have been buried under for the past six months, to tell you that finally The Otaku Encyclopedia is on sale in Japan! This photo of it on display at Kinokunia in Shinjuku was sent to me just now (thanks Haru!) proving that the book has gone on sale about a week earlier than I’d been told it would be! I guess I better hurry up with the website design… but until then you can see what Danny Choo (see previous posts) had to say about the book.

* moé is the latest otaku buzz word, and basically means to get all hot and sweaty over some budding 2D cutie. But you can buy the book for a better definition 😉

Afro Samurai vs Danny Choo


I had a fun night at Danny Choo’s place the other evening when he invited me over to have dinner with our mutual friend Takashi “Bob” Okazaki, and a few of his Afro Samurai colleagues. Turned out to be quite the otaku gathering, with Bob dressing up as Darth Vader and all us lads going gaga over Danny’s figure collection. I’m not sure what kind of expression I was trying to pull in this photo, but you’ve gotta at least try and look a bit tough when you’re standing next to Vader! In the photo are:

From left to right:
Fuminori Kizaki (Director of Afro Samurai)
Mrs Bob Vader, Minna (hiding in Vader’s cloak!)
Danny Choo
Takashi Okazaki (Original creator of Afro Samurai) as Darth Vader
Myself
Hiroya Iijima (Afro Samurai Character Design/Animation Director)
Will Feng

You can see more pix over at dannychoo.com

Seijin no hi


Yesterday was the Seijin no hi (Coming of Age Day) holiday in Japan. It was beautiful weather and I headed out with my new mate Danny Choo to take a few pix for his blog. The plan was to get photos of him in his Storm Trooper costume with as many cute twenty-year-old girls we could grab.

The official age for adults in Japan is twenty and on this day each year, young men and women gather at their local city halls (or somewhere else if the hall is too small) to be officially welcomed into adulthood. The new grown-ups dress in their best formal wear, which for girls means beautiful kimonos, called furisode, and fluffy fur stoles. This style of kimono is distinctive because of the bright colours and long flowing sleeves that signify a girl is both an adult and single, which is a handy thing to know 😉

Danny and I visited the CC Lemon Hall in Shibuya where gaggles of giggling Shibuya gals wore a sensational mix of their normal “gyaru” hair-styles, makeup and traditional kimonos. The addition of “decora” accessories and outrageous nail fashion completed the look.