Sunday 22 July 2012

Miwa Shirow's VVW Vocaloid Visual Works (Doujinshi)

With C82 arriving in August, my doujinshi fever has been lit anew! So watch out, world, Poke the Merch is talking art.

Miku has enough representations to fill a classroom. Her fanmade personalities oscillate from cute to chipper to downright bitchface evil. Whatever's your type, Miku's got it. It's a part of her charm. Personally, I'm not overly fond of Miku and her high frequency output, but I adore how she's presented in Vocaloid Visual Works. After all, I love my women with a bit of rawr, and Love of War Miku is totally badass.

Speaking of C82, Vocaloid Visual Works (henceforth, VVW)was published during C76. Hard to believe it's been almost 6 years since its release. Where did all the time go? Is it true? Is life really a roll of toilet paper? The closer to the end, the faster it goes? Awkward. But let's not endorse gratuitous life metaphors now. Let's talk about art.

I'm a big fan of Miwa Shirow's style. The absence of his artbooks in my collection leaves a cold, empty slot in my shelf that begs to be filled. He's perhaps best known these days for doing the Dogs series, in which he flaunts his badass style with dark outlines, high contrast, wild perspectives, and cray-cray faces. How delicious!

At 40 pages, VVW qualifies as a decently long self-produced work. Its quality is obvious right from the get go. The covers are glossy and gently embossed, and the paper quality is spectacular. Once again, as with Huke's BLK, the spine eats a little of every page, making it difficult to fully appreciate the art, but the problem is not huge. Taking pictures of VVW did pose gratuitous flexibility challenges though. I was sore the next day. No joke.

In many ways, Miwa Shirow's bold style reminds me of Ideolo's, minus the cutesiness. With sharp features, small eyes and general gangliness, Miwa Shirow's characters are decidedly more mature. Understandably, his style will be a turn off for some, but I find it well suited for an angsty song like Love is War.

VVW also employs the use of spongy, dirty textures, much like Huke's, but in a lesser fashion. They're there, but they're not overpowering the page. I like that.

Love is War Rin is totally badass. Seriously, Miku, where is your rocket launcher? Rin could toast your skinny butt in about 0.3 seconds flat with that thing. I dig the camoflague texture, and the flock of planes are absolutely over the top dramatic - in a completely bombastic way (pun so intended).

There are no sections in VVW, making it one long run of Miwa Shirow goodness, though it does make it a little more difficult to discern where each piece comes from. The majority of the doujinshi is Love of War themed, although there are several pictures that digress from the song.

In case anyone doubted him, Miwa Shirow proves that he can also work warm, backgrounds -

- and darker backgrounds.

This one's one of my favourites.
There is a lot of teal in VVW, as expected in any collection featuring our favourite toothpaste-haired cyber-princess. Many pictures are set to a blank white background, and I'm left with the urge to select a fill tool and block in colours. That's probably not a good sign. Probably. But it sure is stylistic!

I would have loved to see Miwa Shirow take on other Vocaloids - Luka especially, because I love jazz girls. After all, this is Vocaloid Visual Works, not Miku Visual Works. But there's no denying Miku sells. Like sex.

Anyone else just want to add glowing Matrix-esque music notes to the picture below and slap some black into the background? I know I do.

The cray-cray is strong in this one.
Halfway through the review, I feel I have a confession to make (inhale, everyone) I...I don't even like Love is War.

Actually, I was never a huge fan of Miku songs in general, since her voice feels like tiny cleavers scraping against my soft, girly eardrums, but since her Append release, I find her somewhat tolerable. Vocaloid madness never really got me until the release of the V3 generation, in which I bolted up and saw the light. How glorious it was. Like synthesizer angels chiming my name. Now I'm waiting for decent IA and Yukari Yuzuki collections to hit the market (though I would settle for a good Luka collection too).

That's not to say I didn't enjoy V2's songs. Gumi is gloriously good for a synthetic singer, and Rin's Meltdown, for one, is a tune I'd gladly put on repeat at work.

One can never have enough Rins.
I've been picking two-page spreads to show off to you guys, but in reality, VVW is rather sporadic in page arrangement. Oddly enough, I don't think there was a single full-page spread. There are several pages split into 1/3 or 1/4 slices featuring smaller, sketchier works.

Of VVW's 40 pages, 10 are black and white sketches. And these sketches are really sketchy, a lovely redundant statement if I do say so myself. I would love to see some of them polished up and coloured (like squatting, yelling Miku. That one's sexy).

For 40 pages, VVW feels shorter than it should, mainly because of its numerous use of two-page spreads. Not that I'm complaining (much). It was a glorious 40 page journey, spreads and all.

VVW also surprised me with a CD. Literally. It fell out of the doujinshi when I opened it. I screamed a little. It was all very dignified. In retrospect, it explains the doujinshi's higher cost. I never really gave it a listen till, well, right now actually. I assumed it was just a version of Love is War, but I was wrong. It's actually nine versions of Love is War. Was it worth the extra 2000 yen? Totally. They're all incredibly professional.

I'm almost always happy with the doujinshi I buy, and VVW is no exception. I find it difficult to get angry at art collections. The only possible way to disappoint me with art would be to leave excessive blank space or draw the same thing repeatedly. Otherwise, subjectivity and all that jazz get in the way of my critical judgement.

Even 6 years later, VVW shows up regularly on sites like Mandarake, usually priced at 3000 - 3500 yen with the CD, or 1000 yen without the CD (which is much more manageable for a used product). While the style may not be everyone's cup of cocoa, this doujinshi definitely separates itself from the herd. The blunt strength of Miwa Shirow's style is a force to be reckoned with.

A good force.

To be reckoned with in a good way.

Title: VVW Vocaloid Visual Works
Author: Miwa Shirow (三輪士郎)
Circle: m.m.m.
Size: A4
Pages: 40
Price: ???
Purchased From: Mandarake

Ba-da BAM,

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