Japan Movie Posters Could Be Awesome, Like This


In Japan, the reputation of many modern movie posters is that they are not cool. The ones that distributors create for the local market are often criticized for their lack of style. Too bad, because there are some truly awesome single sheets out there, many of which are totally unofficial and totally fantastic.

During the Showa period (1926-1989), poster design was often wonderful. The fonts and layouts were inventive and energetic. During the early years of the current Heisei era (1989 to the present day) this continued, but over time many Japanese movie posters lost what made them special. Instead, cinemas often get pieces that are poorly executed or uninspired.

But there are still talented designers making posters. To take Yoshiki Takahashi, who works as a screenwriter, art designer and critic. His retro poster work is brilliant.

(Image: Eiga Hiho via Yoshiki Takahashi | Facebook)

[Image: Eiga Hiho via Yoshiki Takahashi | Facebook]

Above, for example, the poster he recently made for Eiga Hiho magazine. Below is the official Japanese poster of The Hateful 8. What Takahashi did not do. And who looks stupid.

(Image: Japan today)

[Image: Japan Today]

Slim. Why the distributors didn’t hire Takahashi is beyond me.

Takahashi professionally creates posters for B-movies and does a terrific job (check out his online portfolio here). But my favorite Takahashi pieces are the ones he does for fun, often Quentin Tarantino movies. It takes on the Showa style, which befits Tarantino’s films so well, but gives them a modern sensibility. It might sound easy, but it sounds incredibly complicated.

(Image: Eiga Hiho via Yoshiki Takahashi | Facebook)

[Image: Eiga Hiho via Yoshiki Takahashi | Facebook]

Here is another unofficial poster created by Takahashi for the magazine. “This is the very first ’70s style poster I made and Tarantino has a copy in his basement,” Takahashi writes on Facebook.

Takahashi uses at least twenty layers in Photoshop, working manually and avoiding third-party plugins and filters. Layers are mostly about fine-tuning the hue and tone. Explaining further his process, Takahashi recounts Wildlands:

The biggest difference between the 60s / 70s and modern times is of course the whole printing process. They cut out photos, physically pasted them, and covered the edge with airbrushing. Sometimes they didn’t have the color photos to start with, so it had to be colorized using various printing processing techniques.

So when I make these posters the old fashioned way, I try to imitate this process digitally. So many people think that just putting color on black and white photos might make them look like one, but it doesn’t work that way. If you do this it will look like hand painted photos from the turn of the 20th century. In the 60s and 70s they had more advanced treatment methods, and it is because of this that the shadow part of the face, for example, is not just gray or black.

Here is more of Takahashi’s fantastic work:

(Photo: Yoshiki Takahashi | Facebook)

[Image: Yoshiki Takahashi | Facebook]

(Photo: Yoshiki Takahashi | Facebook)

[Image: Yoshiki Takahashi | Facebook]

(Photo: Yoshiki Takahashi | Facebook)

[Image: Yoshiki Takahashi | Facebook]

I love the colors, the fonts, and the way these posters appear and flow. They are visually appealing. They are cool. Maybe there is a concern that these would be considered too old fashioned. Better that than uninspired because layouts alone work so well. “Retro” or not, they’re a million times better than the modern Photoshop disasters plaguing megaplexes across Japan.

Takahashi’s Showa-style posters have become influential enough to inspire Twitter users Tohru Mitsuhashi to create, as he writes, this “false Yoshiki Takahashi style” poster.

(Image: Tohru Mitsuhashi | Twitter)

[Image: Tohru Mitsuhashi | Twitter]

Hope it inspires more designers and artists as this design language is much better than anything in the official Japanese poster for The ghost.

(Image: 20th Century Fox via antenna)

[Image: 20th Century Fox via Antenna]


If you like Takahashi’s work, check out more of his posters at Facebook.

[Images via Yoshiki Takahashi | Facebook]


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