Jiraiya 1998 – 2012
I vividly remember the first time I saw one of Jiraiya’s breathtaking artworks emblazoned on the cover of Japanese gay magazine G-men. At first I was convinced it was a photograph– but there was something about it that seemed too good to be true. No, an image this deeply impactful could only arise from an artist’s figurative fantasies, facilitated by the hyperreal precision of the computer as an artmaking tool.
Following the footsteps of Bara master Gengoroh Tagame, Jiraiya served as G-men‘s resident cover artist from 2001-2006. His cover illustrations are devoid of the frills of a background, devoted fully to depicting the bulging muscles and friendly facial expressions of his fantasy men. Their eye-popping bodies are rendered in a level of detail that can only emerge from a deep affection for the physiology of men’s bodies. Style of dress and the occasional prop hint at a larger narrative, but for the most part these artworks are fully focused on the majesty of the body.
The recently released volume Jiraiya 1998 – 2012 presents an extensive overview of Jiraiya’s illustrative and painting work in the context of a beautifully printed fine art coffee table book. It’s entirely rewarding to look at these images free of magazine cover headlines and blown up to a size where the physical wonderment of Jiraiya’s men can be observed in crisp detail. Additionally, Jiraiya has included brief notes in both Japanese and English on each image, explaining the origins and inspiration behind each of the images. While it costs a pretty penny to ship the book from Japan, it’s definitely worth checking out for anyone transfixed by these incredible images!