Bishōjo, Bishōnen

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anime pretty boy and girl by vishal k bharadwaj

The Japanese concept of Bishōjo and Bishōnen pre-date modern animation and cartooning (and indeed, the aesthetic appreciation of people of a particularly pretty disposition goes back through the ages to the birth of civilization, and probably earlier), but with the rise of manga and anime as a vibrant, much-loved visual art form, their unique celebration of this concept has become a hallmark of the genre, right up there with giant robot mecha and over-the-top fight scenes.

In the modern age the anime pretty boys & pretty girls have their own attributes; the males are often long-haired and androgynous (a quality that frequently manifests as gender ambiguity or cross-dressing either secret or open in anime series); there is often a somber and melancholy quality to the associated imagery, a quiet simmer rather of long glances and meaningful silences; and there are the huge, liquid eyes, first transplanted into anime by manga artists influenced by Disney and other Western animation eye-styles, but soon metamorphosed into their own unique and instantly identifiable form.

For this image I tried to keep it simple, which helped to finish it in under an hour. It was inked with a Japanese brush pen, a finicky instrument not for the faint of heart or impatient (or caffeine-addled), which, while generally unsuitable for general ink work in a more graphic style, gives this a loose, distinct, and hopefully very Japanese quality.


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