Art by Fujiwara Kaoru 藤原薫

Foxy Lady Ayame recently started Female Goth Mangaka Carnival. I was particularly intrigued by the art of Fujiwara Kaoru (the smoking woman on the front cover picture). Nobody has written a post about this mangaka yet, so I decided to investigate.

Description by Foxy Lady Ayame:

Fujiwara Kaoru: She’s the most mysterious of the five, since we have little to no info about her. She was born on April 5th, 1978, and made her debut in Kimi to Boku magazine. The adventures she had with plagiarizing fashion magazines is more famous than her actual work, which is a shame because her stories have a distinctive ominous dream-like air. Maybe the fact she’s written mostly short stories with rather cryptic dialog and surreal situations made her name an obscure one. Her longest work is If You Wanna Destroy The World, a 3-volume long vampire story, that also got to run for awhile on JManga in English. She’s back after a 9-year break.

Manga Updates notes:

Since then she has stopped creating any works, 7 years later she is finally back with a new series called Sono Saki no Fuukei serialized in Feel Young magazine since 2010.

It must feel terrible, don’t you think? I do not know whether the accusations of plagiarism were true, but let us assume for a moment that they were. The fact that an author stopped creating for almost a decade is substantial. It is likely that the she must have felt very guilty about this experience.

It is easy to make mistakes, especially feeling so much pressure and persistent inequality on so many levels. For example, Dr Haruko Obokata fabricated results published in Nature. These people are not inherently evil – they just made a mistake. It was a big mistake, but they can still recover and do much good for the world.

I hope that after many years of contemplation, Fujiwara Kaoru has a new energy and creativity to continue her work. We tend to regard bad experiences as negative, but each experience is unique, teaching us something and transforming us. In turn, we may tell the world about this experience through our work, projecting a different perspective. Thus, I am glad she is back from a long break and creating manga again!

Let us examine her latest work: Sono Saki no Fuukei (2010-2013)

Description: An older brother who can only embrace sleeping women, a younger sister with a heart condition and prohibited from having sexual intercourse, and the older brother’s girlfriend, who watches them quietly from the sidelines. Three people with three different viewpoints. Where will their entangled, distorted thoughts lead them?

What a setting… Well, the manga is not easily available, so I can’t comment on the quality, but I do like the art, which will be the focus of this post.

Unfortunately, I do not have the luxury to check out all of her works, but you can find a list at the Baka-Updates. I have chosen the work with the highest median score: Omae ga Sekai o Kowashitai nara; If You Want to Destroy the World / Vampire Girl). I went through all chapters in that manga, presenting here only some of the pictures I liked.

Most characters don’t have much detail, but her cover artworks tend to be very detailed and well-designed. In terms of panel composition, some of the most unique works feature highly textured background and high-contrast values with characters overlapping several panels. She is particularly fond of tree shadow effect – I really like it too! Also, the eyes and hair of her characters in closeups tend to be very expressive and wonderfully rendered.

Another aspect that I really enjoyed is a relatively high frequency of pictures of the characters with closed eyes. I like these types of pictures, but they tend to be quite rare. There is something special about closed eyes. Sleep, prayer, deep concentration or pain – in all these activities when we close the eyes consciously, we voluntarily remove one of our senses to make room for more, for something that is beyond sight. It can be a communication with God during a prayer or a shift of a focus to touch during a kiss.

Please see the art below and consider reading some of her work!

Description: Koizumi Kanna is infatuated with the man who came to the restaurant she works at and ordered a burger with no onions. Little does she know, Toujou Ren is interested in her as well, but for a different reason. Kanna just so happens to be the mirror image of a woman he knew a very long time ago. It is for that reason that he saves her when she nearly dies in a car accident. But the life he gives Kanna is far different from the one she lived before, and she’s not certain it’s the kind she wants…

Further Reading: Female Goth Mangaka Carnival Index

8 thoughts on “Art of Fujiwara Kaoru

  1. Thanks so much for the contribution! Glad you liked her art so much 🙂 It’s indeed a shame that plagiarism is such a scandal in a world where originality is a myth. A big fine would suffice I think.

    btw what do you mean by tree shadow effect?

    1. My pleasure! 🙂

      Probably, a better word is “shade”. Aoi Hana one of the few anime that used it well. Here are a few examples.

      Note how the patches of sunlight are relatively large. Most people who try to draw this effect make the patches too small or inconsistent with the background.

  2. That’s some loose panel placement there–with few drawings in a page and the use of unconventional shading/toning. It is, indeed, quite refreshing to look at.

  3. Yes, the art style is indeed beautiful.

    I’m not really sure how to feel about this plagiarism scandal associated with this mangaka. I grew up with teachers drilling into my brain that plagiarism is bad, a crime, and must never be done; but at the same time, I feel sorry for the stigma these writers face when accused of plagiarism. You’re right. These writers/artists are not evil, they just made a mistake.

    But of course, I understand the fury the “victims” of plagiarism feel when they find that someone stole their work. I can just imagine what I’ll feel if this happens to me. I’ll accuse them of laziness for not working hard enough by themselves, and stealing my own hard work. Oh well.

  4. Fujiwara Kaoru is honestly one of my most highly held mangakas ever. Every single story grips me so deep with the art and surreal microcosms. Remaining engaging yet approachable.
    Any time I hear about the plagiarism scandal I get so heated, because she basically only drew a couple of Calvin Klein ads, I really don’t see why it’s so blown out of proportion.
    I really want her back and I am aching to read this new manga, especially because i’m a huge fan of incest and you can’t find many mangas about it, without them being sleazy or cliche.
    Fujiwara Kaoru knows how to skillfully reach to the taboo side of the human nature and lay it out beautifully.

    (and where else can you find such realistic human art in a manga like this but still be so eye catching?! if you know, please tell me!)

    1. It sounds like you really enjoy her work!

      I see. It sounds like the plagiarism situation was somewhat inflated. I expected something on a much larger scale.

      Manga of high quality in all aspects is not easy to find. One thing that immediately comes to mind is the early chapters of the Blade of the Immortal. I just love the minimalistic and realistic drawings! Other than that, I do not recall anything immediately, but I do not read manga extensively, so, perhaps, some readers may have a better advice.

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