Macoto Takahashi (born in Osaka in 1934) is one of the leading manga artists of the 1950s. Ever since his debut in 1957, he dedicated to Shōjo manga. Shōjo, shojo, or shoujo manga is manga aimed specially for teenage females readers. Their narrative ranges from historical drama to science fiction and they are always focused on romantic relationships.
During the early 20th century, the most important illustrator associated with this style was Junichi Nakahara. You can see this artist’s influence in Takahashi’s young female characters with their big sparkly eyes, long eyelashes, wavy hair adorned with flowers and ribbons and fairytale pastel dresses.
Large sparkly eyes were invented by Junichi Nakahara in the 1930s and further popularised by Macoto Takahashi around 1956. In the 1950s, artist often placed a star-shaped highlight next to the pupil.. This become the key visual marker for identifying a comic as shōjo manga. In regard to what these eyes signify, some have argued that starry eyes symbolise “the love and dreams” of the characters. 「…」In other words, the eyes literally are the windows of the soul; by looking at the eyes, the readers can intuit the character’s feelings, which remain unexpressed in dialogue.. Using oversized eyes, therefore, is a key technique used by shōjo artists to evoke empathy from readers (Extract from “Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime” but Mark W. MacWilliams)
Macoto also gradually began drawing everything in one frame, rather than in manga panels, by creating a story within it, using mainly watercolors and oil-based colored pencils to express his subjects’ “elegance, gentleness, shyness and sense of cleanliness.” (Extract from the interview “The doe-eyed world of Makoto Takahashi”, The Yomiuri Shimbun, 2010)
“Why do I always draw girls? I have this lingering image I had when I was a sixth-grader, right after the war”. “There was a church of the Allied Occupation Forces near my house, and one day I saw a girl over the fence. She was about 5 and was playing in the garden filled with flowers. “The girl, her leg in a cast, was called by her mother. She turned around and ran to her mother, her beautiful blond hair flowing. It was such a beautiful scene in such a gloomy time as was postwar Japan. The image stuck with me, and I came to want to paint that girl.”
(Extract from the interview “The doe-eyed world of Makoto Takahashi”, The Yomiuri Shimbun, 2010)
Macoto’s artworks are embraced by the real life fashion Lolitas who wander around in Harajuku. Take a look at the way they dress… they are Macoto’s live models! (all photos below via Tokyofashion.com)
Over the years, Macoto’s illustrations have been featured in magazines, and he has also contributed illustrations for use on stationery and other merchandise
Manga x Fashion: Macoto Takahashi + Anna Sui Collaboration ♡
American fashion designer Anna Sui and Macoto Takahashi have teamed together. Anna Sui has designed “Dolly Girl” a clothing and accessories collection inspired in Macoto’s pretty girls. The collection will be available in Isetan Shinjuku from March 23rd to March 29th, 2016 (Images below from “Dolly Girl” Isetan Shinjuku catalogue)
Over 80 years old, and Macoto Takahashi is still mesmerizing us with his fantastic illustrations. Thank you!
All photos on this blog were snapped by me unless otherwise noted. If you see something you’d like to share, please be sure to provide a link back to this space. Thank you!
All images are from Macoto Takahashi. All credits go to him.