Japan/China and Japan/Russia Fantasy War Drawings


Unless you count the Mr. T exercise book, my big cultural discovery in Berlin this past weekend was the work of Akira Yamaguchi. My friend has a book of his stuff, which mostly consists of nutcase juxtapositions between highly-detailed, contemporary technical drawings and traditional Japanese art. I like how much his drawings pick up on the inherent fun-ness of Ukiyo-e, the woodcut style that we now often think of as ‘classic’ Japanese art but was really more of a middle-brow, vernacular, quasi-comic book style of the time and translates compellingly to ‘pictures of the floating world’:


Yamaguchi’s recent show had the totally cool title “Japan/China and Japan/Russia Fantasy War Drawings” and gets the following synopsis: “Now, imagine a time machine which could outfit Genghis Khan with rocket launchers; or Napoleon with a division of Panzer tanks — that would change human history, wouldn’t it? Tokyo artist Akira Yamaguchi explores the idea from a Japanese perspective with the hallucinogenic history lesson…”


On a more subdued note, I really like this ship/street scene comparison:


1 thought on “Japan/China and Japan/Russia Fantasy War Drawings”

  1. Great ukiyo-e links here, including animated versions. They link to even more (giga-e and asobi-e).

    Then there’s my favorite Hokusai parody, with rabbits replacing the wave.

    Hokusai had some great political cartoons that were quite funny when you understood the context — this one shows an octopus dressed as a samurai, sitting on a pile of potatoes, battling a farmer.

    You are certainly thinking “WTF?” (or at least “信じられない”) but there was a bad rice crop the year before and the government banned snacks, or something like that.

    I could have sworn there was much cooler one where a rice snack was in a sword fight with a potato snack. That was pretty awesome. (That, or I imagined it, but it would *still* be awesome.)

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