Urban decay and melancholia at its finest is a great phrase to describe the beauty of Akima’s artworks. In Mirage: The Art of Akima, this Japanese illustrator captures occasionally dark urban landscapes and pairs them with doe-eyed schoolgirls doing mundane errands like walking to school, blowdrying their hair, petting a cat, or exploring an abandoned hangar.
Okay, maybe that last one isn’t so mundane. But that’s the beauty in the world of Akima.You can tell the characters, while familiar, live in a completely different reality from our own.
Who is Akima?
In Japan, there’s this curious case of illustrators and artists adopting nicknames instead of their real names. For Akima, you would be forgiven to think that as well. I mean, it doesn’t sound like a real name, right? More like a cool moniker? But there is a person behind this – Akimasa Tokunaga
Why Review This Book?
While I don’t know much about the artist, I first came across his work (I’m assuming he’s a he but he could easily be a girl too. If you know, please let me know so I can correct this. Thanks!) on Instagram. Since then, I was hooked. I tried hard to look for most of his works, eventually leading me to buy one of his short compilation artbook, Cruel Paradise 2. (Never got the first one because it had sold out long before I discovered him.)
Mirage: The Art of Akima is his latest book. It’s thicker, fresher and contains more of his beautiful images than ever before. While I always have reservations about “moe girls,” his works while they do feature cute girls, don’t echo that vibe. If anything, his artworks seem like a fragment or a memory, lost yet captured in time. There’s intense emotion there I admire, not to mention skill and grandeur in capturing gritty urban landscapes so beautifully.
This world of everyday urban decay seems both familiar yet foreign. Like it resides somewhere in the near future or sandwiched between one’s imagination and reality.
Many of his works are done in watercolor, ink and I believe digital. But each one retains that traditional look and feel that’s so hard not to fall in love with.
- Book Pages: 144 Pages
- Publish Date: 2018
- Publisher: Kadokawa
- ISBN: 978-4-04-604041