How, when, or why I got the idea to photograph and write a live action manga is a bit nebulous to me, it just sort of happened. I don't even read manga myself but I suppose part of this started as the debate began regarding the topic of cultural appropriation and the movie Ghost in The Shell. A majority of my friends are half Japanese, or hafu, and while this debate was going on I sort of wondered how the public would react if some of us were cast in that movie. Some of us look Japanese, whilst some of my other friends look totally caucasian. I have a lot of questions about what race and nationality is, and for me sometimes the easiest way to deal with it is to create a visual narrative which I can interpret later. Hence I began a fun little project, more like a get together of friends where we recreated some scenes from a famous manga, and I suppose it was from there that things snowballed as I saw what wonderful actors my friends were...."maybe I can write and photograph my own live action comic book." So thus began a manga I have titled, " Tokyo, Tx" a photographic crime novel revolving around a brilliant yet geeky guy named Dick Nagai. The narrative of the story revolves around identity theft, greed, and blackmail. Nobody in this story is a good guy, everyone to one degree or another is a crook, yet lovable and over-the-top comical. Everyone cast in the story is of mixed Japanese identity which is sort of important to me and all images are photographed in and around Tokyo. As I mentioned I am not a big fan of manga but I see the potential of this sort of comic as a bridge between East and West, and symbolically, our cultural and ethnic identities as being both really serves something greater than the story itself. Still I don't want to make some charged political statement, though I guess I sort of am doing that. Personally speaking I am just having some fun on my day off, and making a reason for me to gather some friends together and hang out. The photographs you see here are not in sequence and I have yet to add the text, though you should expect an e-book out soon. Enjoy!
The seed for this idea to write and photograph my own photographic manga really started here with a recreation of a popular manga. One of the interesting things is that physiologically the way many characters are drawn seem to be a mix of European and Japanese features. During the shoot I joked around that we are the face of manga and anime.