Makoto Takahashi, the godfather of cute

The Japanese newspaper Daily Yomiuri has an interview today with artist Makoto Takahashi, who is known for his shojo-ga, drawings of girls, which were featured in manga magazines as well as in other girls' magazines and on stationery. Takahashi cites an odd beginning for his love of drawing girls:

"Why do I always draw girls? I have this lingering image I had when I was a sixth-grader, right after the war," Takahashi told The Daily Yomiuri in a recent interview. "There was a church of the Allied Occupation Forces near my house, and one day I saw a girl over the fence. She was about 5 and was playing in the garden filled with flowers.

"The girl, her leg in a cast, was called by her mother. She turned around and ran to her mother, her beautiful blond hair flowing. It was such a beautiful scene in such a gloomy time as was postwar Japan. The image stuck with me, and I came to want to paint that girl."

At 75, Takahashi isn't slowing down much. "I want to make drawings of girls in the image of the French revolutionary calendar, [which was used from 1793 to 1804], which starts with venedemiaire, or grape month," he told the Daily Yomiuri. "I would like to draw girls based on the lunar calender, too, and then compare the two." Takahashi's work is the subject of an exhibit at the Hachioji Yume Art Museum, where curator Takahito Kawamata credits him with the creation of kawaii (cute) culture: "If you follow the stream of kawaii culture to its source, it will take you to Takahashi."

(Image taken from a collection of Takahashi's work at Kurutta.)

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