Megan N. Woodrum
I've been waiting for this book since I first read about it months ago; when I picked it up, I was a little concerned. I mean, it seems a bit thin and it's not a photobook the way Fruits and Fresh Fruits are.
Lucky for me, it was better than that. "Japanese Girl Inferno" is a history lesson in the social evolution of the various trends that have pervaded the lives of young japanese women, from the motorcycle gangs to gothloli. It was incredibly informative and filled in a lot of gaps for me.
The book is divided into sections by trend, starting with the gang-types fro the early 60s and 70s and ending with the present-day decora; not only does it outline the history, it has "profiles" on each type which include and illustration of a typical member and details on specifics, then another section outlying "Ideal Boyfriends" and "Must-Have Items". The illustrations themselves were very charming, and the book is well-written.
All-in-all, I recommend this book for any fan of Japanese fashion, especially those who enjoyed the movie Kamikaze Girls.
When i got this book in the mail, I was really happy and read it right away. The information about all the fashion that happened in Japan and the pictures were really good and interesting, and the mini-interviews of actual people involved in the fashion was really nice. The articles tell you how long that fashion lasted and what caused it to go out-of-style. To me, it was a nice cute touch on how sprinkled in a few of the chapters were the "life of a Manba/GothLoli", and even a segment on how you can transform your face like a Ganguro girl's. Even when my friends looked into the book, then liked how informative it was.
Why did I rate it 4 stars? Well, it's not the information of the book I took out a star for...it's the fact that merely a few minutes after I opened the book, pages started to fall out. And I'm a person who's very delicate with books. I'm not sure if I was the only one that it has happened to, or if the batch of books they were selling were defective ones. But it's not a good thing.
I'm not trying to say "Don't get this book, it's defective!", because really, this handbook is a VERY good one for anyone interesting in the history of Japan's fashion. I'm just trying to give out a little warning to people who are considereing buying this book.
I found this book before it came out, just dubbing around on Amazon. I thought it looked interesting enough, and not too expensive, so I ordered it. I was so pleased when I got my copy in the mail! It's an interesting, well organized, and well catagorized history of Tokyo teen girl fashion. From the well known and ongoing to the unheard of and extinct, it shows a timeline, influences, and interests of every sort of girl. What that girl did in her day. What her interests were. What future styles she may have inspired.
It really is a great book, full of pictures and cute illustrations. It even includes a few makeup and dressing tips, as well as references to check out if anything tickles your fancy. It isn't too long or wordy, and is written in an entertaining style so that the book can interest both hardcore subculture freaks, or maybe just a girl who happens to think Lolita is cute.
I must say, I really enjoyed it, and would highly recommend it to anyone with any sort of interest in Tokyo's peculiar fashions, or even someone with an interest in girl power alone.
Japan is home to anime, sushi, samurai, and girls wearing giant hamster suits? Yes, it's bizarre, but true. Kigurumin (girls who wear cheap cloth costumes of characters like Hamtaro, Pikachu, and Winnie the Pooh) are only one of a dozen fashion subcultures that Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno features. From ogals, who rarely bathe, to gothlolis, who manage to be both cute and creepy at the same time, to lady's, who were the "biker chicks" of Japan, Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno covers them all.
The book is broken into sections, each covering a specific fashion or subculture. Each section contains a history of the fashion, fashion profiles, must-have items, and ideal boyfriends. The book also contains make-up tips, interviews, a look at the evolution of the Japanese school uniforms, and a fun little test where you are sorted into a fashion subculture.
As some of the other reviewers have said, the binding is not the best. The book is only available in paperback, unfortunately. I would recommend handling the book with caution, and not leaving it face down on any tables (that's a surefire way to destroy paperback books).
Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno is a must-have for anyone interested in fashion or Japanese culture, especially fans of manga and anime. Of course, the handbook can also be enjoyed by people who know nothing about either fashion or Japanese culture; after all, who can keep a straight face while reading about "fashionable" girls wearing giant hamster costumes?
The image of the Japanese schoolgirl is one that many a Japanophile fantasize over and romanticize to ridiculous degrees. But really, who can blame them? With the way that these girls are presented in anime, manga and games, you'd think they were were angels straight out of heaven. However, those of us keen enough to realize that Japan isn't at all like its cartoon counterpart know that such an image simply doesn't jive with reality. However, upon opening this book, one notices quickly that the reality behind these girls is much stranger than the fiction.
Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno takes us straight into the belly of the beast without any warning. The introduction throws you into a club with Patrick and crew as they do some research for the book you're holding in your hands. The image painted by this opening text is one of youth, excitement and energy. Nothing too strange, really. But as your eye scans these opening pages and actually starts to notice the accompanying photographs, you realize that this whole affair is anything but normal. And once the introduction ends, things really get weird. In the best possible way, of course.
Spanning from the late 1960s to the present day, Inferno covers all the major movements in Japanese girls' fashion, complete with interviews, photos and Macias' unique brand of writing. In each chapter, Macias puts you right in the middle of the movement, involving you with these girls and their era personally. Simply put, it feels like you're there. This is actually pretty incredible, considering Macias himself wasn't even around to experience some of these movements, which just goes to show how great this book is.
It's evident a meticulous amount of research and love went into writing this, as each chapter contains a comprehensive history of each movement, but at the same time is presented in a very conversational manner. Macias talks to you. He knows this stuff back to front. He's seen some of this stuff happen, and for the stuff he missed, he talks to people who were there, reads old magazines and just digs around. Then he just tells it all to you, and you simply can't help but be mesmerized.
This book isn't all a history lesson, though- as the title states, it's a handbook. So, between Macias' witty and entertaining discourses on various fashion movements, the book comes with various "how to" guides, "a day in the life" segments, interviews with current/former Gals, and each chapter ends with a list of "must have" Gal items complete with "Ideal Boyfriend." This mixture is one that produces a most entertaining read.
Another notable aspect about this book is the design and illustration work. Izumi Evers, the designer, lays out the book very well, and pushes the aesthetics appropriately over-the-top to compliment the subject matter. Similarly, Kazumi Nonaka's illustrations are detailed, colourful and have a doll-like look to them that works well with Macias' witty writing style, and interacts nicely with Evers' design work.
Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno is simply a great book. It's fun to read, informative, and just nice to look at. If there needs to be complaints to make this review complete, the ending of this book is a bit abrupt. It would have been better if there was a closing statement after the final chapter- a section where Macias could reflect on all this and provide some witty opinions. But that's being nitpicky. It does come with this "WHAT GAL ARE YOU" test at the end, which is clearly hours of fun for the whole family.
Go out and buy this if you haven't already. You don't even have to care about fashion or Japan at all- this book will make you care. Because it's that good.