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Japanese Spin

By Lina Toyoda

Modern Japanese culture is a stylish as it is quirky – a mix of old tradition with the most modern of amenities. The Japanese have incorporated North American and European influences into their own culture, making a unique identity and sense of style.

Japanese magazines present their culture with a distinctively modern spin that is not seen in Canadian or North American publications.

Jump, a long running comic art magazine, shows how manga is a mainstream form of art and story-telling in Japan, whereas comics in North America remain on the periphery. The stories are published weekly in series form – it’s like watching the weekly episode of your favourite TV show, with about 18 running stories in each edition.

They range in genre and art style, from drama to sci-fi to comedy, with graphic fight scenes or themes of love and romance. There are several other magazines like Jump, targeting various age groups, some just for girls. The running series makes for a loyal readership and is actually an old concept, dating back to the origins of magazine publications. It’s also a fresh and innovative way to expose new and emerging artists and writers.

Japanese fashion magazines are also unique because they show style from the street. Many pages appear cluttered with smaller photos and cut-outs, but after taking a closer look, it’s a refreshing change from the elaborate sets, done-up models and staged images seen in North American and European magazines.

Instead, there’s an array of photos of regular people sporting different styles and trends of the time. The reader can easily relate to the images, and it’s much more interesting to see what is often seen in the real world – the wide range of styles that emerge from the mixing of older and newer trends. The models are everyday people with unique styles, with their own personal sense of fashion.

Fashion magazine readers are essentially looking for ideas for their own wardrobe, and the more realistically this can be achieved through the magazine, the better. This is something Canadian fashion magazines may want to look further into, to stay innovative and to bring a new spin of their own.