MoCo Loco

MoCo Loco Nightmare!

If you’re tried to visit MoCo Tokyo (or its parent site, MoCo Loco) in the past 24 hours, you probably came up with nothing (and you might have noticed that there are no MoCo Tokyo posts listed in my sidebar). Seems like the hosting company, Hostway, has suspended the account and email for alleged spamming, which is just ridiculous. On top of that, they sent an email about the situation just before shutting the whole thing down to the email address that they were shutting down! It seems that there is nothing that can be done until Monday morning, when the right person will be in the office.

I just feel bad for Harry, MoCo Loco’s editor. His domains and email accounts were probably hijacked by spammers, which is an unfortunate nightmare that could happen to anyone.

Update: The sites seem to be back up now.


PINE*am on TV

I watch G4’s ATTACK OF THE SHOW regularly, and yesterday’s show (Friday) featured a live performance by PINE*am! It was my first time seeing them perform live, and I loved their stage routines (they have some choreographed moves). If you find the show, they perform towards the very end (and unfortunately cut to a commercial break in the middle of the second song). For more on the band, check out their page, where you can also listen to some tracks. Their first American release, PULL THE RABBIT EARS, comes out May 31 (my birthday!) on Eenie Meenie Records.

Design Stores


myway02LDK has news (and pics) of the new Trico produced store, mYwaY, located in CODAN Shinonome, a “new housing development project in a Tokyo waterfront area.”


A Shojo Day


This is turning into a shojo-obsessed day — which I guess makes sense, since this is a girly blog. Following is the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” column from the current issue of WIRED:

Anyone who thinks schoolgirls and boys enjoy the same fantasies needs to bone up on shojo manga. The Japanese comics for gals are the antithesis of typical shonen titles. In series for guys, like Gundam and Dragon Ball Z, robots are death machines and sound effects of pitched battles (bwa-whoom!) are common. In series for girls, like Absolute Boyfriend, bots are cute guys and the sound f/x tend to be of the protagonist’s heartbeat (ba-bump!) as she approaches a robohunk. Shojo stories also get interspersed with shopping tips on clothes and cosmetics, ostensibly to help teens look like their heroines. Americans can see what the fuss is about when Shojo Beat magazine debuts at bookstores in late June. The monthly mag translates six popular shojo serials into English.

The image included in this post is from the manga NANA.


The Dancing DJ

Spotted in the current issue of RELAX (“Visit Tokyo, Accept Tokyo”): a profile on the dancing DJ GEDO SUPER MEGA BITCH GM KAICHANMAN 4 (all-caps were used in the magazine), who you can catch at Tokyo super-clubs like Womb. They also mention her email address:


This Week in Magazines


  • The July issue of TITLE features a cover topic that I can’t say I’m very much into: “We Love Cars.” Bah. On the other hand, I sure wouldn’t mind taking the Yamaha Electric Commuter EC-02 for a spin.
  • The world of manga gets another magazine cover with the June issue of GIRLIE, on a topic I touched upon earlier todayshojo manga. They examine a few popular titles (like Nana), and offer up a few recommendations. The current STUDIO VOICE is still the one to pick up though.
  • I forgot to mention it — it’s been out for a few weeks — but the latest issue of CASA BRUTUS (June) takes a look at the recovery work being done in the tsunami-affected regions of South-East Asia. They also have a piece on the memorial of Kenzo Tange, as well as a look at the city of Porto, Portugal from a design perspective (for more design thoughts on Porto, catch Momus’ latest radio entry).
  • The July ESQUIRE is a killer issue for design lovers — “Design as a Weapon.” They start with a big piece on one of the biggest proponents of the use of design as a tool for change, Bruce Mau, followed by a huge rundown of the big (and not so big) names in graphic design.

The Life of a Shojo Artist

Last night I caught a great profile on NHK spotlighting a young shojo (girl’s manga) artist getting into the business.

The first thing that sort of surprised me was how she looked. Contrary to the image I have of most manga creators (read: very otaku-style with no fashion sense whatsoever), this young girl (she’s 22) was very into fashions and accessories. My first thought was that, yeah, this makes sense, since shojo manga tends to be very fashion-conscious (the costumes and accessories of the characters). But Yuko assured me that she was actually an exception, and that the vast majority of people working in the manga field (men and women) do fit into the nerdy-image we have of them.

As they explained how she’d gotten into the business, they gave a good rundown of how the system works within the major weekly comics — without naming the comic they were referring to, it can be assumed it was one of the top ones, probably RIBBON. They way it works is that you have maybe 10 artists that have weekly serials. They’re the big names. Then you have a second tier of creators that get serials published maybe 2 times a month. Finally, at the bottom rung, and the level where most creators start, are about 40 artists that have one-shot type stories that are published once a month.

The girl they were spotlighting (apologies for not remembering her name) recently entered the bottom level, and one of the editors of the comic had taken an interest in her and offered her the opportunity of starting a new series (or maybe it was just a one-shot, I’m not sure) based on the life of uber-idol Aya Ueto. We follow her as she starts work on the project, proposes unfinished layouts, and we even see a meeting with Ueto, who looks quite excited about the pages she’s seeing.

Another interesting topic was talk of salary. The creators that get those one-shot stories (like the profiled artist) only get paid 8000 yen a page. The girl in question’s main work is as an assistant for one of the top shojo creators (and again, I can’t remember her name). Her specialty is accessories, and you would see her drawing amazingly detailed Dior bracelets, etc. Working as an assistant, you get paid around 10 000 yen a day. Yes, I said day, not in hours, since they actually end up sleeping on the premises. A major creator’s studio (usually in a typical Japanese apartment), includes a room with bunk beds for the assistants to sleep in when they need some rest — since salaries are so low, the main artist usually pays for food and snacks also. As for that top creator, she makes around 1 million dollars a year, so if you can become a big name in the business, it obviously becomes quite lucrative (much more than the North American equivalent).

Definitely an interesting look at something I didn’t know much about — and these are just the parts that I understood, as it was entirely in Japanese.


Shigeru Ban

GSH-01-open1You’re going to want to visit Shigeru Ban’s official site, Shigeru Ban Architects. Architectural goodness galore — pictured above: the Glass Shutter House in Tokyo (2003). Link via

Art Events

Julian Opie Exhibition


I’m not really familiar with Julian Opie’s previous work, but I like the image I’ve seen (“Hijiri, Actress 4”) that will be included in the following show:

Julian Opie takes the everyday mundane and transforms it into the, er, universal mundane. A model of a car is not just a model but, says London’s Tate Modern, “a sign that stands for a type of car.” The celebrated English contemporary artist, whose works have been exhibited at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, returns for his first Japan show in five years. Films and Paintings presents a new animated movie and portrait series based on a Japanese couple, as well as a series of travel landscape paintings reportedly influenced by Edo era Japanese printmaking. Opie, says gallery Scai the Bathhouse, is also planning to go “landscape hunting” when he visits Japan for the show. (METROPOLIS)

It’s happening at SCAI the Bathhouse until June 18.

Art Events

Blythe Exhibition


At Spiral right now: “Blythe Anniversary Exhibition – Cinema Princess.”

The mysterious Blythe dolls are getting a “Cinema Princess” makeover by various artists and designers to celebrate their anniversary. (TAB)

It starts today, and ends June 5. Also, last week’s METROPOLIS had a cover feature on Blythe.