My first memories of Japan have nothing to do with fine sushi, expensive sake, criterion collection samurai films, or cherry blossoms falling on a beautiful spring morning. Nope, instead it was being huddled around the fluorescent glow of the TV on a Saturday night anywhere between 9 and 12pm.
the channel was SBS.
This was the now influential slot for late night anime. Back to back they used to play Neon Genesis Evangelion, Bubble Gum Crisis Tokyo 2040, Cowboy Bebop and numerous others. What they had in common (besides gratuitous bouncing cleavage) was they were violent, sophisticated, comedic, colourful, and most importantly cot damn rad. As a kid watching this for the first time, it was mind blowing.
Fast forward 15 years and now Japan’s imagery and cultural identity are common place. People eat sushi every day, read manga, and will generally see a Dragon Ball z inspired meme on their feed every few posts. A combination of the residual influence from the eighties and kids (who are now adults) being more welcome to different types of media has led to a general acceptance of what was once niche and unique.
This is no different in the world of art, which has always drawn inspiration from Japan. Look at any of your favourite artist’s body of work and they will definitely have a few geishas, samurais, rising suns, and huge anime eyes in there. It is then surprising to think that the actual street/ lowbrow artist coming from Japan often go under the radar. In the world of Instagram and social media, the following of these artist are frequently insular to Japanese natives and enthusiastic fans.
So we put it upon ourselves at MAD LOVE to find out what Japanese artist think about street art, their own work, and how the world sees them! We also went to Tokyo to eat, booze and stuff ourselves on to the notoriously tight subways, ALL FOR THA FANS!
Special thanks and shouts to the Japan Foundation and all the artist works featured in the episode. BAO!!!