Color Me Outrageous
by Michelle "Ms. Geek" Klein-Hass
It started out with hair, and Punk Rock. Green hair, blue hair, spiked, mohawked, dreadlocked. '80s fashion inspired manga-ka to give their heroes and villains bizarre hair colors not seen in nature.
This set up a feedback loop, where J-pop culture inspired J-fashion, producing the Ganguro. Heavily spray-tanned bodies and faces created a "just got back from the Tropics" look, accented by light makeup around the eyes and light colored lipstick.
This got pushed into more and more extreme forms: Manba and Yamanba. This confused some Western observers, who thought the look had something to do with blackface. But this really had more to do with Japanese myth, legend and pop culture.
Finally now, this has evolved into full body paint, in emulation of the wild colored characters found in video games, Western comic book characters like Mystique and Night Crawler, and the 9 foot tall blue cat people of the movie Avatar.
Ishoku-hada means "Unique Skin," and incorporates previous Harajuku styles with body paint in colors like yellow, blue, purple and green.
While none of these styles are particularly mainstream, and you are not likely to see them in everyday life in Japan, they are certainly impressive from these photos.