Specially designed “Japanese public telephone” backpack has Twitter ringing with enthusiasm

Forget London phone booths, Japan’s green public telephones are the new trendy icon.

It used to be that London phone booths were the iconic public feature, but since they’ve started being phased out in the U.K., they’re slowly becoming a thing of legend. But that leaves room for something new to take its place…perhaps the Japanese public telephone?

With its almost shockingly bright green color and blocky design, the Japanese public telephone could work up to being as iconic as the historical red booth. It already seems to have a decent following of fans within Japan, which might be why a backpack designed after the green gadget has gone viral on Twitter.

The backpack was created by Twitter user Yu Ogasawara, a Japanese leatherworker and woodcrafter who has won numerous prizes for her unique designs. This particular work seems to get the strongest response when she puts it up for display, and that’s probably because it looks exactly like its namesake, and is not only adorable and wearable, but also durable and valuable since it’s made completely of genuine leather.

It’s also fully functional (as a backpack). The handset is the perfect size for as a pencil-case, and when unzipped, the front panel opens up the storage compartment. There is even a small pocket for storing your phone and earphones on the inside of the front panel, and the coin slot actually serves as a way to pull your earphones through without opening the bag.

▼ Check out that cute pattern! It’s made by hand-carved rubber stamps.

Plus, it looks and operates like a real phone. You can push the buttons, and the handset can be removed from the holder, which uses a strong magnet to keep it from falling off while you’re walking. It doesn’t yet make calls, but with technology progressing as it is, it may only be a matter of time.

When asked what inspired her to make this bag, Ogasawara says that she used to use public telephones all the time when she was a child. Since they’re being removed and phased out as mobile phones become more common, she’s started missing seeing them around, and that’s why she decided to create a design in their honor.

Japanese netizens agree that it’s a wonderful homage. Since the original Tweet on April 10, they have been clamoring to buy one, but because it was a piece she made for school, she isn’t yet able to put them on the market, though she hopes one day that she can. She has so many other cute and pretty designs, like the turtle backpack and zebra purse below, so undoubtedly she’ll be able to build a successful business when she does put her works up for sale.

Twitter and Instagram are a great place to find some talented artists in all kinds of mediums, from oil paints to paper to even Excel spreadsheets! It’s amazing how much talent there is the world, and it’s really fun to find it in unexpected corners of the Internet.

Source, images: Twitter/@yutoyou_yty

Anime art book teaches you to draw the subtle mannerisms that make women beautiful…and butts

Illustration reference covers feminine beauty in both subtle and not-so-subtle forms.

Few countries have as robust a community of budding illustrators as Japan does, and to help them improve their manga/anime-style artwork, Japanese publishers are standing by with all manner of reference books. In the past, we’ve looked at tomes that teach how to draw perfect panty shots and action necessities such as a schoolgirl leaping over a man while firing a pistol, but publisher MdN believes there’s plenty of charm and allure in even ordinary feminine poses.

So to help artists who wish to draw visually compelling female characters even without resorting to displays of lingerie or violence, MdN has released its newest art reference book, titled Pose Illustration Collection of Girls’ Mannerisms that are a Little Exciting ( Chotto Doki Doki Suru Onna no Ko no Shigusa wo Kaku Irasuto Pooze-shu in Japanese).

Over the course of its 160 pages, the book provides examples of everyday poses and movements that are sure to satisfy fans of cute girls. Time-tested poses such as a woman putting her hair up in a ponytail or having her wrists partially hidden in overly long sleeves are included, and there’re also plenty of fashion-related topics, such as how to achieve different emotional auras depending on how a character ties her scarf or takes off her coat.

In some cases, the source of appeal isn’t exactly subtle, like in the section on how to maximize the attractiveness of a character’s backside through picking her swimsuit type.

Other butt-related pointers are found in the comparison of bike-riding styles, although with the number of people who ride a bicycle as part of their commute to school or work in Japan, this is indeed something that anime artists will likely need to think about at some point or another.

Moving away from such derriere-dependent depictions, some other uniquely Japanese situations covered show women taking off their shoes in the raised entryway of a Japanese house and relaxing/dozing off with their legs tucked under a heated kotatsu table.

Workplace lessons are divided into various professions, including nurses and shopkeepers, with an example of proper bowing for customer service jobs.

And finally, it wouldn’t be a proper anime art reference book without delving into the best ways to show your heroine’s flowing hair and billowy skirt blowing in the wind (ideally during the anime’s opening credits, of course).

Pose Illustration Collection of Girls’ Mannerisms that are a Little Exciting is priced at 2,052 yen (US$19) for physical or Kindle version, and can be ordered here through Amazon Japan.

Source: MdN via IT Media
Images: Amazon Japan/サイドランチ

Studio Ghibli inspires “The Glassworker”, a groundbreaking new anime film from Pakistan 【Video】

The beautiful love story between Vincent and Alliz reminds us that “life is beautiful but fragile, like glass itself“.

Studio Ghibli films have been inspiring artists around the world since the mid-’80s, when the studio was first founded in Japan by the now world-famous directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, and the producer Toshio Suzuki.

One of the most charming aspects of any Ghibli film is the exquisite hand-drawn animation, which creates a sense of intimacy and magic that computer-animated movies have a hard time replicating, and it’s this human element that’s now inspiring a group of animators in Pakistan to take out their sketchbooks to create a brand new anime that takes its styling cues from the world of Japanese animation.

Called “The Glassmaker“, this new film is attracting attention amongst anime fans around the world with its beautiful stills, heartwarming storyline, and its groundbreaking ambition. Usman Riaz, the artist, composer and director of the new film, first fell in love with Studio Ghibli movies from a very young age, and recently fulfilled his dreams by founding Mano Animation Studios, the very first hand-drawn animation studio in Pakistan.

Riaz and his animation studio now employ a small group of talented artists, who are working to produce The Glassmaker, using the same hand-drawn animation process as Studio Ghibli. The results, which can be seen in the first five minutes of the clip below, promise to take us into the beautiful coming-of-age love story between Vincent, the son of a glassmaker, and Alliz, a young violin prodigy.

The Ghibli inspiration is evident in the scenes featured in the clip, and in the storyline itself, which deals with issues such as war and growing up, but there’s still a beautiful local touch to the anime, as the characters speak in their national language of Urdu throughout.

The story, which is narrated by Vincent as an adult, recalls his childhood, and his relationship with Alliz, whose interaction occurs mainly inside the glass shop. According to the director, the glass shop is a metaphor for life, as “life is beautiful but fragile, like glass itself”.

In the behind-the-scenes look at the new studio and its artists, which follows the preview in the clip above, it’s revealed that The Glassworker initially began as a short film, but as Riaz continued to make storyboards, the film grew in length, with the director finally deciding it should be a full 80-minute long feature-length movie.

Riaz credits the many supporters who helped raise more than US$116,000 for the movie on Kickstarter in 2016, saying everything they’ve been able to do has been because of them. While the movie will take a few years to complete, Riaz says he is “fully prepared to do whatever it takes to making our dream of making hand-drawn animation a reality in Pakistan”, which would be a huge first for the country.

To find out more about the movie, and to keep up-to-date with developments as the film progresses, be sure to check out the studio’s website and Twitter account. The release date is currently set for the end of 2020, which looks to be the start of a good decade for anime fans, with the new Ghibli Park scheduled to open in Japan, along with a new feature-length film from Hayao Miyazaki in store for us then too!

Images: YouTube/Mano Animation Studios

Tokyo lesbian love anime art/photography exhibition cancelled, thighs suspected as sticking point

Cancellation of yuri event comes mere days before scheduled opening in one of Tokyo’s major anime fan neighborhoods.

Anyone who was planning to go to the opening of Yuri Exhibition 2018 in Tokyo this coming Saturday now needs to make new plans for the weekend. The organizers of the event have announced that the gathering of fans and creators of lesbian romance anime and manga (called “yuri”) has been cancelled.

The exhibition was scheduled to be held in the event space of department store Marui’s branch in the Ikebukuro neighborhood, which in recent years has joined Akihabara and Nakano as one of the city’s major centers of otaku culture. The annual Yuri Exhibition (or Yuri-ten, in Japanese) began in 2016, and this year’s Tokyo iteration was slated to run from March 17 to March 25.

On the event’s official website, the cancellation notice vaguely defines the reason as:

“The situation has become such that it would be difficult for all creators who originally intended to participate to display and sell their works at the event, so we have decided to cancel holding Yuri Exhibition at Marui Ikebukuro.”

While the explanation is light on details, some noticed that this isn’t the only Marui Ikebukuro event to be scrapped this month. On March 2, the World of Thigh Photography exhibition of the works of prolific thigh photographer Yuria, which was scheduled to take place at the department store from March 9 to 26, was also suddenly cancelled, again with organizers citing nebulous “circumstances.”

▼ Some of Yuria’s photography

Yuria was also listed as an exhibitor for Yuri Exhibition 2018, and so it’s highly probable that when the cancellation notice is talking about participants for whom it would be “difficult…to display and sell their works,” it’s talking about Yuria, though it’s possible there could have been an issue with the wares from of one or more of the 29 other listed exhibitions listed on the Yuri Exhibition website.

▼ The sample image for Yuria (shown on the right) from Yuri Exhibition’s website

Marui has a fairly young clientele, so it’s somewhat surprising for them to be assumedly pressuring Yuri Exhibition to tone down its content. Perhaps the deciding factor is that unlike the illustrated depictions of lesbian love and lust created by the majority of Yuri Exhibition’s artists, Yuria’s photography features real-life models, as do three of the other listed exhibitors: Albina Albina, SAKUnoTORIDORI, and Minori Takahashi.

▼ Albina Albina


While Japan is famously accepting regarding illustrated content, real-life mediums such as photography aren’t always allowed the same leniency. And while Yuria’s work has been the subject of multiple art exhibitions in the past, they’ve been held at smaller venues, often specialized galleries. In contrast, Marui is a mainstream department store, and no doubt feels it has to consider how shoppers with no connection to or interest in the yuri genre will react to, for example, images such as Yuria’s bondage-themed schoolgirl thigh photo seen above,

The event is now hoping to reschedule at a different date and a different venue for Tokyo, though that may or may not prove possible. Yuri fans will be happy to know, however, that Yuri Exhibition is still scheduled to take place in Osaka between March 31 and April 8 at the Namba Parks complex, and also in mid-April at a yet-to-be-determined location in Fukuoka (likely not the city’s Marui branch). And even if you can’t make it to either of those, there’s still plenty of Yuri Exhibition merchandise for sale here through the online shop of event partner Village Vanguard.

Related: Yuri Exhibition
Sources: Yuri Exhibition, Otakomu, Today’s Gallery Studio, Hachima Kiko, Kyodo
Top image: Yuri Exhibition
Insert images: Yuri Exhibition (1, 2, 3, 4)

The gorgeous portraits of these Japanese women aren’t photos or CG, so what are they?

Artist Yasutomo Oka’s mind-blowing work needs no computer trickery.

Looking at these exquisite portraits from Yasutomo Oka, you might think that the 34-year-old Aichi Prefecture resident is a talented photographer. The truth is, though, that none of the young women’s images seen here were captured with a camera.

Your next guess might be that they’re CG. After all, rapidly advancing technology has become very convincing, like with virtual schoolgirl Saya. But that’s not the case either, and, if you find yourself guessing that they might be love dolls (or chicken wing-selling dolls, depending on their owner’s choice of application), that hunch would also be incorrect.

That’s because Oka is a painter, and these amazingly lifelike portraits are all actually oil paintings.

While Oka says there are real-life models for the women he paints, their actual appearance is merely the starting point from which he makes alterations to arrive at the image he wants to create.

Not surprisingly, creating such intricate artwork is a major time investment. The portrait of the woman in the cream-colored kimono that appears at the top of this article, for example, took about 20 days to complete, Oka estimates.

Along with his ability to blend smooth body counters with stiff hair and eyelash detail, part of what makes Oka’s artwork so realistic is his use of color, as even the eyes he paints are shown reflecting the in-painting light.

That’s not to say Oka has to use color to impress, though, or even brushes. His pencil sketches are also incredible, if not quite as likely to fool people into thinking they’re looking at an actual person.

Unfortunately, Oka’s most recent gallery exhibition, which took place at Site Aoyama in Tokyo, wrapped up in February. However, if you’d like to see his work in-person, either to admire it close-up or to convince yourself that it’s really not a photo, the artist posts information on upcoming exhibitions on his website here.

Related: Yasutomo Oka website
Source, images: Twitter/@yasutomooka

Grade-school student makes touching tribute to the late Ren Osugi

One future film buff was robbed of the great actor too soon.

The Japanese entertainment world was saddened on 21 February by the passing of Ren Osugi at the age of 66 from heart failure. As one of Japan’s greatest character actors, he was never a leading man but lent his supporting talents to many great films of the past such as Cure, Audition, Hana-bi, and Uzumaki to name just a few.

▼ Here’s Osugi showing off his musical talents too, playing guitar for Takeshi Kitano, whom he acted alongside in many movies.

Osugi’s ability to transform himself and play a range of roles from wormy bureaucrat to bad-ass yakuza was unrivaled, right up to one of his final parts as Prime Minister Okochi in Shin Godzilla (Godzilla Resurgence).

It was this role that inspired the young son of art teacher and Twitter user Okoshi (@okoshi2017) to draw this moving piece.

If I may take the liberty of interpreting it, in this work we see Godzilla evolving from his sea-dwelling form into its final city-roaming and laser-shooting form just so that he could bring flowers to the grave of Ren Osugi. However, as usual, Godzilla can’t get anything done without having to deal with buzzing helicopters around him. This one in particular appears about to hit a turbo boost.

According to Okoshi, the boy overheard his mother watching the news on TV which announced the passing of Osugi and mentioned that he “appeared in Shin Godzilla.” Every night he draws little doodles before going to bed, but this evening he decided to send Godzilla on one more sentimental rampage.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree either, and Godzilla’s cutesy proportions were lifted straight from the artist’s father’s own style. Here’s Okoshi’s rendition of some of history’s greatest guitarists with the same big heads and small arms. Dare I say, Slash is looking downright cuddly.

Wherever Ren Osugi may be now, hopefully he’ll see and get a kick out of the fact that he is still helping to inspire Japan’s next generation of artists. We’ll definitely need some more to fill the huge gap in talent left by his untimely death.

Source, featured image: Twitter/@okoshi2017

Japanese artist turns child’s coloring book pages into beautiful masterpieces

Who needs adult coloring books when regular kid’s coloring books can look this spectacular?

A sign of a good artist is that they can create something beautiful no matter the medium they’re given to work with, be it makeup instead of markers or Microsoft Excel instead of a traditional digital artist studio.

Even simple coloring book pages made for children can be turned into amazing pieces of art in the right hands, as Japanese Twitter-user convexoconcave showed when he posted the recent works his wife did:

“My artist wife tried her hand at coloring our son’s
coloring book, and the results are spectacular.”

In the photos you can see what the blank pages from the coloring book looked like — just simple outlines of various Japanese trains, meant for young kids to color in with markers or crayons. But with a bit of watercolor paint and a skilled hand, his wife added her own touch to the pages, giving them depth and dimension.

The different colors set a mood for each one as well: using dark greys and blues to give a more solemn feeling to the first Shinkansen picture, while the greens and yellows in the second picture greatly brighten the mood.

Of course, Japanese Twitter was quite impressed by her handiwork:

“Amazing! Of course a professional artist doesn’t need to go out and buy an adult coloring book to pull off something like this.”
“I have the same coloring book, but this is really something.”
“Now this is art!”

While this isn’t the first artist who’s had their way with a children’s coloring book before, we’ll definitely take these beautiful watercolor scenes over horrifying macho Pikachu any day!

Source: Twitter/@convexoconcave via My Game News Flash
Featured image: Twitter/@convexoconcave