Beautiful Decay (by Stephanie Young):
Like a seductive cloud of silky smoke, Kazuki Takamatsu’s lolitas dance on the brink of adolescence and adulthood. Using a technique called depth mapping which is similar to the 3D effect seen in video games such as Zelda, Takamatsu hand paints pixels in a monotone palette of black and white. The effect plays tricks on the eye allowing it to see multiple shadows, similar to holograms in the figures of dainty nubiles. His vision transforms them into living spirits.
Takamatsu says his Lolita subjects are all based on the average Japanese girl. In their likeness, he comments on good and evil, society and history. In barely there clothing, these pretty young things clutch guns, cities and swords. It’s a strange dynamic to use such a beautiful aesthetic to comment on war and violence. In places, it comes off a bit disturbing because it tends to take on a very objectified view of young women. But this is the tradition of manga, considered a high art form in Japan.
Manga is a series of comic books originating in Japan. They are read by all ages but seem to be especially popular among teenage boys and girls. The stories deal with typical subject matter; romance, action, adventure, horror, sports etc. There are however, more underground forms of manga where homosexuality, incest, transgender and pedophilia are discussed freely. Besides Japan, Europe is the second largest consumer of manga and the U.S. is a close third.