Born in 1956, Hisashi Eguchi is known for his clean, poppy aesthetic, which has permeated beyond manga and anime and into music, clothes, and illustration as well. A stickler for perfection, Eguchi’s illustrations evoke rock-n-roll photography with Warhol-like vibrant colors. A fusion of American rock-n-roll attitude with idealized cute Japanese girls. Not completely self serious though, Eguchi has also penned a few screw-ball comedies, the most notable being Stop!! Hibari-Kun!.
Stop!! Hibari-kun!, which ran as a manga from 1981 to 1983 and had a TV anime from 1983 to 1984, is a wacky romance about an orphan boy who moves in with a Yakuza boss and his three lovely daughters, with Hibari (the most beautiful one of them all) smitten with the lad, even though Hibari’s father always calls her “son.” Eguchi set out to use Hibari-Kun as a way of turning the conventions of romantic comedy anime and manga on their head and in recent years Eguchi’s lampooning of gender norms has resonated with new audiences.
Image from Anim'Archive
In the early 90s Eguchi worked with manga giant Katsuhiro Otomo on the animeRoujin Z. A satire of Japan’s elder care system, Roujin Z is about a nuclear powered robotic hospital bed that runs amok with its octogenarian patient still inside. Otomo directed the anime and wrote the story, while Eguchi provided character designs. In a2013 interview Eguchi stated that Otomo was one of his major influences in how he approached character designs, though the idealized Haruko in Roujin Z contrasts with the more grounded women seen in Otomo’s work, but this could have been meant to deliberately deepen the contrast between the perky nurse Haruko (modeled after Higuchi’s future wife) and the elderly Kijuro and his mechanical apparatus. Roujin Z was released in the US on VHS and DVD, but it has been out of print for years now. Here’s hoping someone picks it up soon.
Eguchi also contributed character designs to Satoshi Kon’s seminal psychological thriller,Perfect Blue. Set in the world of pop idols, Perfect Blue is about Mima, a former idol looking to become a serious actor. She’s the kind of girl that you see idealized in Eguchi’s art and in much of Japanese pop culture, but thrust into a world of violence and identity crises.
All this talk about manga and anime is making me hungry. Moons Over My Hammy, anyone? Eguchi also leant his talents to menu illustrations and animated commercials for Denny’s in Japan during the early to mid 90s.
Eguchi must really like family restaurants, since he also drew a commemorative illustration for the closing of the final Anna Miller’s restaurant in Japan in 2022
Music has often been synonymous with Eguchi’s easy breezy illustrations, and he has done numerous album covers for So Nice, Pictured Resort, and DJ Kawasaki, among others. For Is Release A Humour? ~We Love Telex~, a tribute album to the Belgian electronic group, Eguchi drew the trio in a style evocative of Herge’s Tintin comics.
All this culminates in the new art book, RECORD 1992 - 2020, available NOW from Phantasmic! RECORD is a career retrospective of Eguchi’s work with a focus on music, presented in a gorgeous record sleeve style book that looks at home on your bookshelf or next to your LPs. Perfect for long time fans of Eguchi’s work, or those of you wanting to see his stuff for the first time.
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