The elusive video release of “Akihabara Majokko Princess” featuring Kirsten Dunst dressed in a maid cafe outfit singing in the streets to The Vapors “Turning Japanese” created by McG (director of Terminator Salvation and Charlie’s Angeles) and artist Takashi Murakami has caused quite a stir among youth culture, but particularly in Japan.
The video, which we believe is creative, fun, and yes, typifying of Japanese street and youth culture, has created a backlash among many Japanese who think it simply makes fun of Japanese street culture and is too cliche.
As the editors of CScout Japan put it, the video “panders to the lowest common pop denominator.” Will Andrews from CScout claims, “This is like me walking down the street in Paris wearing garlic and a black beret while clutching a baguette.”
The in-authenticity many feel around the video has made it even more popular—even though it’s been pulled down from producing company, Company 3’s website for some reason.
Akihabara’s otaku shopping district, for those who are unfamiliar with the area, is one of the electronic hubs of Japan and a fast-growing place to see not Harajuku girls, but more maid cafe-type girls—or girls dressed as sexy maids, and possibly working in various cafes in the area. The complexity of street fashion and the various subcultures is not often completely understood in America, but if you visit Tokyo enough, you understand how it all comes about and why. In many cases, young people chose to dress in various manga or anime-inspired apparel as a way of expressing themselves. They do this before entering into the workforce and becoming a “salary man” and restricted to the normal dress of a business person.
Many designers take their inspiration from the various street fashion styles of Tokyo’s subcultures, such as Gwen Stefani and her Harajuku Girls, plus other variations such as Kawaii, Mori (Forest) Girls, Goth, Visual Kei, Fairy Kei, and Maid Cafe among others. Those of us at W.i.g. love all of the different styles and subcultures (and many of us take our own visual fashion cues from the girls of Tokyo).
In “Akihabara Majokko Princess,” Kirsten wears a blue wig and a combo maid-sailor outfit brandishing a sparkly, magic wand. It’s incredibly cute. Not to mention sparkly platform ‘Dorothy’ ruby slippers. It cuts to various young people’s faces in Tokyo and features maid cafe dancers. The collaboration came about because Murakami and McG have the same manager, and Kirsten is a big fan of Japanese street culture having played the voice of a majokko (magic girl or witch) in “Hayao Miyazaki” among others.
One reason we like the video is that it does give you a sense of Japanese street culture and fantastic that resides in the various fashion found especially in Akihabara. The video was first released as an exhibit for “Pop Life: Art in a Material World” at London’s Tate Modern museum. This fact alone means that the concept was to illustrate pop and street culture in an artistic format, which McG and Murakami do quite successfully.