November 14th, 2008

operesque

Ohta Rina gravure mook

One day last year Hisae and I were walking down a backstreet in Daikanyama when Hisae nudged me and hissed "It's Ohta Rina!" There, sitting in a cranny, chatting to a friend, was a short-haired girl, sipping a soft drink. I didn't know who Ohta Rina was, but Hisae seemed to idolize her. She was certainly pretty, anyway.



Yesterday I happened to interrupt Hisae's websurfing to ask her a question, and found her looking (slightly guiltily) at this page of photos of Ohta Rina, taken by her boyfriend's mother, the actress Miyuki Matsuda. The pictures all come from a new gravure mook (a magazine-type book made up of girly pictures) called Shincho Mook 107: Gekkan Ohta Rina. These mooks come out monthly, and focus on one girl exclusively.



Now, I'm not an unconditional fan of Rina Ohta -- in the video for AOR, her track on Towa Tei's new-but-90s-sounding album, for instance, she just looks too vampy in a Robert Palmer-ish way I find off-putting.



For me, Miyuki Matsuda's imagery is much more seductive. It refers to two visual keypoints I hold particularly dear: the ballerina imagery in the David Hamilton posters I had on my bedroom wall when I was a teenager, and Serge Gainsbourg's film Je T'Aime, Moi Non Plus, featuring short-haired, androgynous heroine Johnny Jane.



Scroll that vid through to the eight minute mark and you'll see, for instance, the scene in which Jane Birkin and Joe Dallesandro float on rubber tyres in a water sink in a rubbish tip. It's clearly the inspiration for this shot of Rina:



David Hamilton and Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus are both Shibuya-kei references -- Kahimi Karie and I injected Hamilton into Shibuya-kei with our tribute song to the "member of the Royal Photography Society", of course. And this shot of Rina sitting on the loo with her knickers around her ankles...



...also takes me back to the 90s. H magazine ran a sexy photoshoot of Kahimi and Miki Nakatani which included a very similar image of Kahimi on the toilet. A prim KK told me that she'd been wearing two pairs of panties at the time.



Something I find moving -- because it's on the edge of the grotesque, and beauty, as Rilke said, is just the first sight of terror -- is the amazing skinniness of Ohta's legs. Here, for instance, she looks like a spider:



And where exactly are her hips here?



Oh, they're those bobbles at the top of her legs. Cute!

There are many Ohta Rinas out there -- the Rina visualized by Hiromix, the Rina presented in the pop video for her song Puzzle-Riddle, the Rina on the cover of Girlie magazine, the Rina in the inevitable Shiseido commercial. But the one I like best -- and this may be generational, mere 90s nostalgia -- is the Ohta Rina in Miyuki Matsuda's gravure mook.