Jun Tsukasa and His Blog are Cool
One thing is for sure: Jun Tsukasa is an honest man. When questioned about realism in his art he replies that he is more interested in “deforming” his characters than in portraying them realistically. Couple this with a passion for weapons and a devotion for the sort of women strong enough to wield them, and the result is striking illustrations. Some pics in this post might be considered NSFW in an overly prudish workplace, just in case.
Jun Tsukasa (allso known by his doujin circle name Tsukasa Bullet) was originally inspired by Masamune Shirow but he has developed a very distinctive style of his own, through his work with doujinshi (Tsukasa Bullet circle), game illustration and original art (pin-ups for magazines, etc). Gray and black are his favorite colors, predominating in the attire and weaponry, and contrasting with the healthy tones of his characters’ skin and sometimes literally rosy cheeks.
From reading online, I’ve found that many people pair up Jun Tsukasa and fellow illustrator Range Murata. Both have steampunk associations (let me quickly give my definition of steampunk as sci-fi without preconditions). Both focus on women, though Murata’s tend to be younger than Tsukasa’s. In fact, I first learned about Tsukasa while browsing the [long] range bullet fansite on both creators. And I could easily express my first impression of his women by the simple phrase: Range Murata girls on steroids.
I imagine many people leave it at that. But in fact the flavor of Tsukasa-sensei’s work is very different from Murata’s. For example, Murata in his work often relies on the background. That is, even though the focus of the picture is the character/characters in center, he uses the background so as to frame the character and give the picture a mood or a world. I think Murata fans are drawn primarily to this, the feeling that Range is out there trying to create a world and aspire to some sort of aesthetic classicism.
In this picture the piece of furniture links Murata’s character to the classic models of European art. But Murata very often simply splashes a sky blue over the background or some other expressive color. At times he frames the picture with a thick black square, or just draws a dotted vertical line to one side of the picture.
Jun Tsukasa’s models are far more at home inside empty space: the perfect white background that is really not a background or anything at all. They often seem to scream: look me at, I’m a cartoon character. Or sometimes more boldly: look at me, I’m a product. In the same interview that I have been drawing on for this post(from his Original Illustration Book ), Tsukasa-sensei admits that he prefers mass-produced guns to custom made. Maybe this is an aesthetic nearer to Pop Art.
Jun Tsukasa also happens to have a very nice blog (the pic above is from there). As proof of that is his 2009 new year post. After wishing his fans a happy new year, he managed to answer every single one of his fans’ well-wishes. In fact, he does a great job of answering queries and keeping track of his readers. A cynical person might suspect an overzealous ghostwriter at work here, but why be cynical?
Just as importantly, Tsukasa does much more than simply give updates on his artwork: he actually gives nice insights into the ideas and concepts behind his projects and the production process itself . Recently he had several problems in the making of a new PVC figure and revealed all of the issues and how he solved them. Here:
I think posts like that motivate the fans to go back and learn more about the artist, which no doubts helps his career…so everybody wins. He also posts on his gun hobby, and the National Rifle Association of gun advocates in the U.S. would do well to study his methods: Tsukasa will write at length about a new gun he’s interested in and post pictures of it. The reader might be thinking: meh! But then later on he will post his own sketch of a cool and sexy warrior carrying said gun. Suddenly the gun comes to life as what it is: a projection of its owner’s power.
From what I gather Tsukasa-sensei has indicated interest in collaborating in an animation project sometime in the future. I’m sure all of his fans would be thrilled at the prospect. Let’s hope it happens!
Jun Tsukasa is good at picking names for his original characters, which IMO is an important skill for any creator. The first pic in this post features Mizuki (瑞木). These characters mean something like pure/beautiful tree, although the syllables “mizu” usually stand for water in Japanese, which is written with another character (水). The cowgirl is Hanako Holstein. My two favorite Tsukasa characters are (what I conjecture to be) sisters Yayoi and Satsuki. Yayoi is the third month in the traditional Japanese calendar, and Satsuki the fifth.