A look at two more artbooks (Eshi 100 Generation 2, Ganbare Douki-chan PIN-UPS)

Well man this is what this site is now. Why not? This is yet another lazy “look at some artbooks/photobooks/doujins I have” post, only a little more adult-themed this time (though technically not 18+, but calling the second of these books safe for work — you be the judge when you read about it. Unless you’d rather not see it, in which case please be sure to check back in next post.)

Eshi 100 Generation 2: New Masterpieces of 100 Eshi

When I wrote about my most recent artbook purchase a week ago, I didn’t make the obvious connection with another similar artbook I’ve had for years now. Eshi 100 or 100 Eshi is another running series of compilation-style artbooks, though not annually but rather once every four years. I’m not sure who organizes this series, but they all feature beautiful covers by the eminent Range Murata, so it’s immediately obvious that the publishers have good taste. There’s a reason Mr. Murata draws so many covers — they really catch the eye, don’t they? I especially like this sunflower-themed one.

Having an eye-catching cover is great, but it’s not sufficient to make the book worth buying (I’ve gotten a few doujins on the strength of their covers alone, and that’s backfired more often than not.) Thankfully, this book is full of excellent art from 100 top Japanese illustrators from back in 2013 when this book was released, each getting two pages with a listing of artist profiles in the front. And good news for me and other readers who aren’t fluent in Japanese: all the text in 100 Eshi Generation 2 is in both Japanese and English. (Not such good news: a lot of the links provided in the book to artists’ online profiles are probably broken since the book is almost ten years old, but that couldn’t be avoided.)

More of that slice-of-life vibe, wholesome fun with music and cooking from the artist Takashi Shiwasu.

Of course, the actual art is what you’ll probably be most interested in, and that’s all well worth seeing. There’s an even stronger emphasis on the cute girl/heroine theme in this than in Visions 2021 — in that book it was maybe 70%; here it’s more like 99%. Works for me, though. The book includes the work of such masters as Sayori, the woman behind Nekopara; and VOFAN, the Monogatari cover illustrator/character designer. Murata naturally gets a couple of pages as well, and one of his pieces is a girl eating a hamburger for some reason. Maybe McDonald’s should hire him to make their food look more appealing than it actually is.

So if you’re into the theme and aesthetic, this book is worth checking out. Like Visions, it’s on the smaller side, and some of the pieces are sadly resized to fit into quarters of pages, but what can you do with these size and page constraints? I’d just look these guys’ profiles up online for their higher res work. Just one practical note: I think this book has been out of print for a while, so it can be a bit expensive (say $60 or more) unless you dig around for a good deal. They are out there.

Ganbare Douki-chan PIN-UPS

I said it would get spicier the further you read, and I’m fulfilling that promise now. Not that this book is especially spicy all things considered — it’s just a jalapeño compared to some of the stuff I have.

But Pin-ups is a special case, a doujin by Yom, another one of my very favorite artists online. I’ve already written about the Douki-chan series and its unique light romantic comedy manga/artbook format (and also its anime short adaptation that was pretty decent.) Pin-ups isn’t part of that story, but is rather a small doujin-sized artbook full of exactly what you’d hope from the title: pin-up illustrations of the four main ladies from the series.

And damn it’s good. Yom is an excellent artist, and he likes drawing this kind of old-fashioned cheesecake, so that’s what you’ll get in Pin-ups. As with his main Twitter manga/art series, you won’t get any actual nudity or technically explicit content here (otherwise the cover would bear an 18+ or Adults Only stamp.) Instead, Yom’s work seems to take more from an older erotic art style similar to those 50s and 60s pin-ups. The only magazine from that time I’m familiar with is Playboy, so maybe something like that but with a modern look and coming as close to nudity as possible in some places without going over that line.

I have to say my heart is with Douki-chan, but Kouhai-chan… I just don’t know. Maybe it’s the eyebrows.

I don’t know if I’m thinking too much about this. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were, but I believe “not quite showing everything” adds to the appeal of art like this. Going back to my stupid hot pepper analogy, I actually like jalapeños more than any other type — spicier doesn’t necessarily mean better.

This “not showing everything” idea is an old one, but Yom uses it to excellent effect. And for those who might argue as I’ve sometimes seen on social media that this stuff is a little objectionable, or even objectifying, I say 1) I’m looking respectfully* and 2) I’d be happy to see a similar work full of guys. In fact, I’m positive such books exist considering how much pretty guy anime art is out there (and see also those old firefighter calendars that apparently used to be popular, though I’m still not sure if that wasn’t just something invented by 90s sitcom writers to put their characters in wacky situations.) I like this cheesecake style in any case and hope it has a revival, and if anyone can help drive that it’s Yom.**

Well, I guess I’m a pervert for knowing this much about this sphere of the internet, but you certainly knew that already. I really like this small artbook and recommend it for those who are into such subjects. Just keep in mind that this is a doujin, a self-published work. It has no bar code or ISBN, and like other doujins it’s not sold in regular bookstores, not even in Japan — you have to visit a hobby or specialist store to find these. Or if you’re in Burgerland like me you have to either buy at a con probably at a high markup, from an online hobbyist/specialist doujin/manga/anime goods retailer, or from Japan through a proxy buyer. Not even the few anime goods shops around here sell these, though that might be because a lot of, maybe even most, doujin books are just plain pornography.

Next time, will I write about still more artbooks? Maybe another visual novel review, or a complete surprise? I’m not sure yet, but I hope I’ll see you then.

 

* Okay, this is a common joke now, but it’s at least partially true this time.

** You thought you’d escape without an unnecessarily lengthy endnote section? Of course not. Since I used the term twice, I wondered about why these old-fashioned pin-up photos were called “cheesecake”, its literal definition being a cake made with a few particular kinds of soft cheese — where’s the connection? Apparently the story is that a New York photographer in 1950 asked his subject to hike her skirt up a little for a photo, and when the editor saw it he said it was “better than cheesecake!”

Just like that New York editor, I love cheesecake, but I was hoping for a more interesting origin than that. If the editor had said “this is better than fettuccine alfredo” would we be calling this style fettuccine alfredo? Probably not, but who can say? But really, this story feels like one of those bullshit backwards explanations for an existing term that nobody truly knows the origin of.

2 thoughts on “A look at two more artbooks (Eshi 100 Generation 2, Ganbare Douki-chan PIN-UPS)

  1. Cafe Bustelo is pretty good. Oh wait, I know what goes well with coffee – cheesecake. Thank you. Thank you for the history on the term. That’s interesting. I’m a little bummed its not called fettucine alfredo.

    Other than that, yes I agree with your point 2 on looking at art. If you’re going to be picky about women then look over at the men section of objectifying. Plus, art. Look over at Michelangelo or paintings in general in museums. It’s also drawn and not real. There are a lot of things I’d like to add but I just woke up.

    Another good post. I love your art books. You have great taste. We used to have so many beautiful art books from Japan that got sold. I’m guessing some would be worth quite a bit now if I thought about it.

    Anyway, you have a lovely rest of your day.

    • Nice to hear you liked the Bustelo. It’s not bad, though I probably make it even stronger than necessary. I guess cheesecake is a good term for this kind of art anyway — it’s sweet and rich like cheesecake? A good reason the term stuck no matter where it came from, but think fettuccine alfredo could fit too!

      Totally agreed — I naturally wouldn’t hang such images in my office or something, but that’s a different matter (I just watched a video about the now more controversial use of the Lena image, a cropped 70s Playboy centerfold, in image processing journals — really interesting subject and there’s some talk about the proper use of such images in professional settings.) But there’s nothing wrong with appreciating beauty, especially when life is so damn dour these days. Artists are practically doing a service to the public.

      And thanks! Not sure of the value of some of the artbooks I have, but I don’t want to think about parting with them. Maybe when I have kids who have to pay for college or something, but I’ll probably be grinding at work to deal with that instead. Have a good day and weekend!

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