Saturday, 10 December 2011

Vivi Magazine

I loathe the term "guilty pleasures." It instantly conjures up those adverts for chocolates that feature a skinny woman giggling (dubbed giggling, no less) at her own naughtiness (ohemgorsh, calories! teehee!) in sneaking a dainty nibble of The Bad Stuff... ooh la la what self-indulgence!

That said, I have no other way of describing my addiction to Vivi magazine. Even if you can't read Japanese, the violent pink colour-scheme and layout of the website should be enough of a tip-off. This is a popular and populist rag, featuring mostly high street brands and providing teens and twenty-somethings with a brainless primer on What To Buy/Wear/Eat/Do/See To Fit In But Not Stand Out (This Month). It is so popular that there is a Traditional Chinese version published in Taiwan, released two weeks later than in Japan with translated contents and tweaked ads for its local markets in Hong Kong, Malaysia, China etc.

Despite my staunch -- staunch I say! -- refusal to subscribe, I somehow end up with at least ten issues out of twelve every year, sheepishly calling on friends travelling through Asia to fetch the latest edition in either language, and snapping up back copies in Japanese second-hand book shops, which get hastily bundled into my bag for the duration of the tube ride home. (And I read everything on the tube, from graphically illustrated feminist treatises on FGM to children's and science fiction books with their original covers.)


Sure, there are some cute and covetable things

...but they often just make me feel crabby and crabbed. The styling ranges from uninspired and irritatingly derivative (by which I mean: hey, someone as visually inept as I could do that!) to meh...pretty.

It's basically a catalogue of (usually mixed-race) house models and their signature facial tics:
Asian duck pout (Lena in the 2nd and 3rd pics is a beautiful girl and serial offender)
  stuck out tongue tee-hee-hee face (Mitsuki)
"oops!" face
not to be confused with "kyoot widdle kitten" face, despite superficial similarities
or "I-suddenly-needed-to-fondle-my-face" face  
that timeless classic, sex-face

And plenty more, such as whimsy!face and "oh, who, me?" face, and let's not even get on to the poses because I'm getting stabby.

It was a dark day when I admitted to myself that I am an actual fan of one of these house models: the British-Japanese Elli-Rose. She's a slightly odd fit for this magazine but I suppose they needed someone to sell bad girl and rock chick (gag) looks... anyway, she looks like fun to bitch with and bum cigarettes off behind the bike sheds.
Sometimes, the Vivi PTB decide to put her in something cutesy like the other girls, and hilarity ensues.
A sweet retro outfit -- why does she look like she just shot hubbie dearest, downed all the Valium and is now on the lam?
What's a dolly without a "WTF I DON'T EVEN. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME." expression?

After a Tom Ford nail polish's worth of bitter bitchery (I mock what I love! It's my way) I'd like to share this editorial from the November 2011 edition of Vivi, which reminded me of why I will continue to flip'n'snark through this magazine for my Japanese mainstream pop culture fix, rather than its more popular competitors Ray, CanCam etc. The latter two are bibles of mote-kei which roughy translates as, 'how 2 please all da boys but not make da other girls hate u (2 much)!' and whose every page is filled with guidance as to What Teh Mens Like. And for all its flaws, I will take Vivi's version of "girl power" over that any day.

"Jackie and Mary's Love Story", an editorial peddling yuri preppy clothes.
Part 1: Mary stalks has a sweetly innocent crush on tomboy Jackie.
Part 2: Alas, Jackie already has an Emma-Watson-ish beret-sporting girlfriend (the snob!), with whom she can only communicate via placard, and who prefers studying (the geek!) to going to the da party with Jackie anyway.
Part 3: Mary haz a sad. Jackie haz a sad. Two piners meet on the bleachers, totally by accident and not because Mary stalks Jackie. Hey, we could go to da party together!
Part 4: They do.
Part 5: And live happily ever after.

Disclaimer: all scans / photographs made by me from various 2010 and 2011 editions of Vivi magazine in Japanese and Chinese.


  1. This post is just epic, beautiful and hilarious!
    You're a star, Kate :)

  2. There are no words. I particularly enjoyed your comments about the "facial tics" LOL. I do love your snark MUS, truly.

  3. Love your way with words, Kate! You may as well just sign me up for the damn mag! <3 Though you mock it, albeit lovingly, I feel a deep sense of urgency to get my hands on it! haha <3

  4. the good old vivi! you should work for them, they could learn a lot from you! :] now I wanna sea your duck faces (you have described them so well, show us how it works! lol) I enjoy your commenting so much, lol ... just amazing :D

  5. lol! I wish I were more literate in Chinese - I'd spend a lot more time with the issues I have. I'm more of a hnuts girl though and I'll shamelessly admit that I lack a sense of putting together good outfits D: but definitely great time killers also

  6. Love your snarky comments!! I absolutely LOATHE those "oh, I am so cute and innocent!" (of course, "duck pout" too!) typical asian-girl poses -- it drives me INSANE!

  7. I love you guys! Sane people would have staged an intervention and had the exorcist on the way by now...

    kaide: happie nuts is where I Draw The Line! Just kidding, it's awesomely bizarre and soft-porny, makes me giggle so hard I risk choking to death on my own saliva.

  8. Absolutely brilliant!