NEW πŸ“—Story: School Photo ❌

Blue Shoes

Monday, Nov 18, 2019

Welcome to the r/Vekllei variety hour, where the tone between posts judders so inconsistently you’ll get whiplash of the mind. I was just drawing and thinking today. This is an author post, in case you haven’t noticed – just a shitty blog.

You see, even today I’m wildly jealous of the success of those slice-of-life artists on reddit and Twitter. I still don’t understand the genre entirely, as a phenomenon. It’s usually male artists (at least in Japan), drawing distinctly Japanese neighbourhoods and landscapes, and situating a schoolgirl in the midst of it. They’re usually pretty amazing scenes. It’s almost always a schoolgirl, too – in modern Tokyo uniform or γ‚»γƒΌγƒ©γƒΌζœ.

I’m still trying to figure it out. It’s obviously not sexual objectification, like so much elsewhere in Japanese illustration – in fact, it’s usually nothing more than mundane or wistful scenes featuring some girl. But why is it always a girl? If it’s supposed to evoke a nostalgia for a childhood you’ve never had, why is it so rarely schoolboys? It’s surely to do with cuteness – ‘cuteness’ is almost always a female burden, and cute art is good, happy art. I don’t have any stats for this, but anecdotally most of the SOL artists I follow are men, and I reckon a large chunk of the audience for it is too. It’s boys creating cuteness for boys.

Maybe it’s interesting for me because Vekllei has a lot of similarities to slice-of-life art. I’m in the business of peddling nostalgia for places you’ve never been, and Tzipora is very much a girl who is very much in uniform a few days a week. It almost reads as satire, in fact – Tzipora will never stop being a girl, since she is one of thirteen in the world to ’not age,’ as per her canon diagnosis. I don’t like to think that I’m carrying on in that tradition, or that I’m infantilising or deliberately cutifying these characters, but does intention matter at all?

I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with it, anyway. It’s just that sometimes I look back through my catalogue, see its female/male ratio, and consider if I’m not just buying into the same kawaii currency.

Here’s a cute picture of Tzipora I made. I made a wallpaper of it, if you’d like it. Let me know what you think about the slice of life art crowd; I’m sure I’ve got a decent overlap, aside from the cool bros here only for the hardcore geopolitik deprezzion posts.