Monday, June 8, 2015

Genre (Anime): Cherry Blossom Decadence

Image Description: Woman in a short, purple dress and high stocking boots walking down a cobblestone road away from a temple door.

There are many themes which Anime has brought out of Japan, and one of the most evocative and enduring is cherry blossoms. They represent ephemeral beauty, not simply of the "Nothing gold can stay" variety, but of the swift death of the warrior in pursuit of her ideals. In Japan, early spring is the time of Hanami where friends and families gather together under the cherry blossom trees to eat, drink, and celebrate - a tradition that goes back for centuries. Gifts of cherry trees were given to the United States after World War II and planted around the Tidal Basin there among the monuments to presidents Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as well as the memorial for Martin Luther King, Jr. There is nothing quite like that double row of trees - one above the rim of the basin in an endless curve, and the other reflected back as the water gently laps against the wall.

My introduction of the cherry blossom as something brief, beautiful, and redolent of death was through CLAMP, a famous quartet whose many stories made the leap from drawn material to anime. It's difficult for me to say which of their many creations is my favorite, but my love hops nimbly between Card Captor Sakura (one of their gentler Magical Girl series), Tokyo Babylon (side story to X/1999 whose focus is the love between a pure boy and a cruel man), CLAMP School Detectives (another X/1999 side story, completely unrealistic and enormously fun), Angelic Layer (a Magical Girl story once removed), and xxxHolic (a mind-bender of a series, and companion to Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles). Cherry blossoms take a central roll in Tokyo Babylon; the two main characters, Subaru and Seishirō, meet under a cherry in full bloom and death and beauty haunt their entire, destructive interaction. I find the melding of sweetness and murder enticing, and all of that is contained within a cherry blossom.

Image Description: Torso shot of a woman in a purple and black dress staring flatly out of the image; her face is in dappled shadow.

It seemed appropriate for me, therefore, to settle on cherry blossoms for my second look from this month's Genre. Vengeful Threads' kimono-inspired mini dress is covered in pink cherry blossoms on a black field. The wrap dress has a wide belt, reminiscent of an obi without having the same straight shape; the color-blocking harkens back to other traditions without hewing too closely to them. I love the long leg-warmer boots, and the distance between the hem of the skirt and the top of the sock is just wide enough to be evocative. I couldn't resist the lure of impractical clothing with weaponry, though, so I added a bamboo shinai from Souzou Eien - also available at Genre. This is a wonderful, basic training sword and comes with three included poses that can be switched between by tapping the sword. You can also do what I did, and have it go along for the ride as you pose!

I went simple for the hair, choosing a solid, unrigged mesh style from Chimeric Fashions, who typically does some rather wonderful masks. It's a twist updo with large buns in the back, and since it's a single object it's easy to resize to fit a variety of head shapes. I particularly appreciated the big buns as they gave me a place to tuck hair sticks from Distorted Dreams; the lavender was a touch less pink than the rest of my look, but it made for a softer counter-point to an otherwise bright ensemble. There are two versions - one with beaded dangles and the other without - and my only complaint is that I don't have them in every color of the rainbow! I'm a total sucker for hair sticks. They default to facing forward, but I found it easy to shift and reposition them to the back of my head instead, and they can easily be adjusted to work with any hairstyle. Adding a third lavender accent is a tiny, floofy and cute doll from Muse that I fit against the front of my head. The little flower and ribbon bedecked ornament might not quite fit with my ...ruthless presentation as a cherry blossom assassin, but my love of sparkles and adorability won out over all other considerations.

Image Description: Rear view down over a woman's head; her hair is pinned up with lotus flower hairsticks and she is staring at the point of her shinai.

( More pictures here. )


Skin: Izzie's, Irene
Hair: Chimeric Fashions, Rope Buns (Genre)
Hairsticks: Distorted Dreams, Lotus Dream (Genre)
Toy: Muse, Chibi Choo Hair Toy (Genre)
Ears: .:Soul:., High Elf
Eyes: .:Soul:., RooMee
Eyelashes 1: SLink, Mesh Lashes
Eyelashes 2: Flugeln Brise, 05-A
Eyeshadow: #adored, kali eyeshadows
Lipstick: Adore & Abhor, Silent Star
Wings: Deviance, Sidhe
Hands: SLink, Hands
Shinai, Souzou Eien, Shinai Kendo Sword (Genre)
Nails: A:S:S, Gold Thread
Outfit: Vengeful Threads, Midnight Sakura (Genre)

Pose: Grafica

Location: Miyagowacho Hanamachi
Light Settings: Sim Default
Water Settings: Sim Default

Photographed by Deoridhe Quandry
Post processing: Cropping

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