Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Junko Mizuno

In the summer of 1973, Junko Mizuno was born in Tokyo. Mizuno-san actually has begun her career as a professional artist relatively recently--however, in a few years only she has gained much recognition. Her artwork has been displayed in a wide spectrum of places--clothing, stickers, bags, CD covers, magazine graphics, illustration books, serialized manga, and tankobons. Her earlier comics, Dream Tower and Momongo no Isshou, arrived in 1998. While publishing her work in the rock magazine H., the techno group Avex Trax approached Junko and asked if she would create a jacket for the group's CD sets. What she ended up doing was an entire manga series--Pure Trance. This was also in 1998--but, this was Junko's true break into the animé scene. After being released in parts with Avex Trax's CDs, a slightly reworked version of Pure Trance became Mizuno-san's first manga published in its entirety.

After Pure Trance, Mizuno-san's unique attractive style was recognized... and she's been drawing up a storm ever since. Junko published Cinderalla in 2000, in Japan, which is mos def among the most popular of everything she's done (English version was released in July of 2002 (...and I still don't have a copy)). In the same fairy-tale vein of Cinderalla is Mizuno-san's Hansel and Gretel (2000) and Princess Mermaid (2001) (both of which I'm having trouble finding any info on). In 2000, Momongo no Isshou reappeared in Secret Comics Japan (a two-part book: 001 includes JM as one of the hidden treasures of Japan's animé undiscovereds, and 002 is exclusively JM). Mizuno-san has also compiled an illustration book titled Hell Babies (2001), illustrated for the "Vulgarity Drifting Diary" column in PULP, and has been re-published in the English magazine Tokion.

As for Junko's art itself... what can I say that hasn't been futile-y attempted by critics in reviews? Okay, you guys can easily click on 'Gallery' above and check out her stuff on your own, without me babbling on while trying to capture her unique style in words. However, here's a comment Junko herself made of her work--

As for the fact that many of her characters and girls are drawn attractively: "... in our minds, without a second thought, being pretty and being strong are tied together." --Junko Mizuno. This is a great quote for manga in general, because it's so saturated with heroines that also happen to have the sex appeal factor set on maximum... this partially explains why, and why the characters are still just as appealing to the chicks as they are to the dudes.

One more thing--I think the most common way of describing Mizuno-san's work comments on her coupling the cute with the grotesque--and nothing gives you a better idea of that than the fact that her favorite musicians are the oh-so-wildly-cute Spice Girls, and the oh-so-wonderfully-grotesque Rob Zombie... talk about contrast. (okay, so on the form it says, "Favorite Musicians: Rob Zombie, Spice Girls, etc." ...okay, what the hell is the 'et cetera' between Rob Zombie and Spice Girls?? ^_^;;)

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