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Katushiro Otomo’s ‘Akira’ for Comme des Garçons (2013)

Welcome to the 86th insertion of DEMUR®, an analytical series highlighting the intricacies of the artistic world and the minutiae lying within. In this episode we enter the second dimension to explore manga artist Katsuhiro Otomo’s collaboration with Comme des Garçons.

‘Akira’ released in 1988, is a cyberpunk anime which plays on the futuristics tropes of telepathy and rebellion. Created by Japanese artist Katsuhiro Otomo, the film has played a major role in the development of pop-culture, seen in music videos like Kanye West’s “Stronger” and Michael Jackson's “Scream”.

As the plot unfolds, the audience learns of a nuclear bomb that was dropped on Tokyo by the Japanese government. The protagonist (decades later) fights to save his friend from corrupt experiments, guiding viewers through a beautiful depiction of hardship, grit, and some pretty awesome action scenes. The film’s sharp illustration and thought provoking cinematography solidifies Akira as a timeless animation, providing a slew of influence on the artistic world.

Collaborating with Comme des Garçons in 2013 with features of Richard Hogg’s ‘Jungle’ illustrations for Nobrow 2, together the collective assembled an array of mini catalogues for the label’s mail order list. Working in part with select artists for this rollout is a tradition among the CDG label, curating an expansive collage under direction of founder Rei Kawakubo.

Hand selecting each still from the comic series Akira, and Nobrow magazine’s early insertions, Kawakubo then assembled and colourized the depictions herself. The graphics are hectic yet visually concise, mixed mediums bleeding together in a vibrant hue of generational storytelling. Individually cut and labelled, some sport text while others unfold to reveal multi-layered illustrations.

This partnership marked Comme des Garçons’ first branch into the Japanese art world, producing highly coveted full print tote bags to pair. All artists involved granted Kawakubo full approval to use their work, and signed off on every finalised design.

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