Saturday, February 10, 2024

Atelier [Media Notes 110]

I watched Atelier several years ago. It’s an excellent miniseries from Japan. I made some notes with the intention of working up a longer piece. That’s not happened so far and I’m not likely to rewatch it anytime soon just so I can write more about it. So I’m posting those unfinished notes along with two paragraphs from the Wikipedia entry:

Atelier (アンダーウェア, Andāwea, meaning Underwear) is a 2015 Japanese streaming television drama developed by Fuji Television for Netflix. It is a coming of age drama set in a small high-class lingerie design house called Emotion, which is based in Tokyo's Ginza district. The drama centres around Mayuko Tokita, a new employee, and her struggle to find her place at Emotion.

Central to that struggle is her relationship with Mayumi Nanjo the creator and owner of Emotion, who has been compared to Anna Wintour, an editor of American Vogue.

I note that the Japanese name for the series strikes me as being typically Japanese, just as the English-language name change seems typically American. Nor can I imagine an American company producing a series about this subject in the way the Japanese have done. An American production would have displayed direct interest in the erotic implications of bras and panties. The Japanese approach is not unaware, but the approach is quite different, more, well, aesthetic, even kawaii, if I may.

Notice how Wikipedia glosses the word:

Kawaii (Japanese: かわいい or 可愛い, IPA: [kawaiꜜi]; 'lovely', 'loveable', 'cute', or 'adorable') is the culture of cuteness in Japan. It can refer to items, humans, and non-humans that are charming, vulnerable, shy, and childlike.

In English, “atelier” is a bit strange and exotic, definitely foreign, by which I mean more than the French origin of the word. Though I certainly don’t know, I would imagine that andāwea is common, everyday usage in Japan, familiar.

My old notes:

I found this show on Netflix, Atelier. It's Japanese, about a young woman who takes her first job in the Ginza, at a shop that makes and sells high-end lingerie, Emotion. The premise just seemed so Japanese that I had to watch it. I like it very much, but I don't know how to read it. The owner and designer is a middle-aged single woman (who drives a 1980s Jaguar sedan). I’d think that’s rather rare in Japan. She has an Anna Wintour hair style, which has to be a deliberate reference, especially when you add in the Anna Wintour sunglasses she wears occasionally. Interesting show.

I’ve just finished the 10th episode (of 13) in the first and only season so far. I'm wondering what kind of presence Anna Wintour has in Japan, especially among the Japanese likely to watch a show like this. I don't know much about here except what I see here and there, and that she's the model for Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wore Prada. She must be a/the model for this character as well. Who else to use as a model for an independent Japanese businesswoman?

Episode 10, The Past is Present: Her son sitting at her feet as she worked one the sewing machine.

Episode 12: Mayuko comes out with her own designs, which are distinctly different from Mayumi Nanjo’s. Mayumi rejects them for Emotion. And then Consciousness approaches them to do a feature on lingerie centered on Emotion. Nanjo puts Mayu in charge.

This is about mother/daughter, boss/employee, and also company vs. private individual. All going on at once. Very tricky stuff. And it’s been set up by the earlier episodes in the series.

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