Story and Street Style Converge in The World Ends With You

When The Earth Ends With You came out back again in 2008, the western planet was only just catching up with the vibrancy and dynamism of Japanese avenue style. Now, on the heels of NEO: The Environment Finishes With You, it really is a worldwide phenomenon.

Japanese designers like Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto had turned Tokyo into a style cash by the mid-’90s, and the early aughts noticed a inflow of Japanese manner influences trickle their way on to the runways of key western manner towns like New York, Paris, and Milan. Alexander McQueen’s Spring/Summertime 2005 selection, “It is Only a Video game,” played with the juxtaposition of Japanese textiles and kimono construction and American trend iconography like football protecting tools. Very similar silhouettes popped up in the collections of Elie Saab, John Galliano, and several other designers.

This impact plays out in a scene in the 2005 movie The Satan Wears Prada, where designer James Holt retains a preview of his collection for Runway magazine’s Miranda Priestly. He introduces the selection by declaring, “I was attempting to capture the intersection of East fulfills West. The fashionable female as geisha fulfills rockstar, with a little Desperate Housewives thrown in.”

Also in 2005, Gwen Stefani’s appropriation of Harajuku fashion—a nebulous phrase to encompass the dozens of distinctive designs and subcultures birthed in Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood—came to a head with her album Like. Angel. New music. Little one. and the Harajuku women she paraded about.

Of system, this is all indicative of the normal person’s recognition of Japanese manner getting into the visible lexicon.

Prolonged ahead of Gwen Stefani marketed her Harajuku Enthusiasts fragrances and outfits line in Targets across America, anime and JRPG lovers held an appreciation for Japanese substitute cultures, which only grew as the aughts progressed. If you appreciated Japanese media, you were probably to get into J-Rock and Japanese manner way too. Specifically if you preferred manga like Ai Yazawa’s NANA and Paradise Kiss, which centered on songs and trend, or viewed an anime with an opening by a visual kei leaning band. Tetsuya Nomura character patterns, which you may perhaps have noticed in promotional art for Remaining Fantasy game titles, have usually leaned on just the ideal side of impractical and maximalist. I imagine which is why so numerous JRPG admirers drop in like with Japanese vogue models. h.Naoto will make you appear like your favored zippered and buckled Closing Fantasy character with a punk twist.

But obtain to Japanese street manner makes was tricky, and highly-priced. Manner designers like Stussy and Vivienne Westwood ended up clued into what was heading on in Tokyo, but all those Japanese designers have been inaccessible to the ordinary American or European designer. It feels unimaginable now to be unable to buy a BAPE T-shirt, but in the early aughts the only put to have BAPE anything, in my expertise at least, was Kinokuniya, a Japanese bookstore chain, in high priced magazine and T-shirt bundles.

a person standing in front of a store

© Photograph: Getty Illustrations or photos

In the early aughts, Japanese road fashion aficionados flocked to LiveJournal. On-line communities shaped to talk about new collections to come out of their favorite manufacturers, like Little one The Star Shines Vibrant, h.Naoto, and Liz Lisa, and how to receive them. Only the luckiest folks had an anime conference nearby with Japanese trend sellers getting up shop in the dealer’s home or a bookstore advertising months-old difficulties of fashion publications like FRUiTs, Popteen, Egg, and Gothic Lolita Bible.

So when Sq. Enix, my lifelong beloved sport studio, released The Planet Finishes With You in 2008, at the top of my obsession with Japanese vogue, I could not have been much more ecstatic.

The Planet Ends With You is an atypical JRPG about a teen named Neku who wakes up in Shibuya to discover himself thrown into the Reaper’s Activity. He associates up with other Gamers in a parallel dimension to fight Noise, the game’s monsters, and follow the Reapers’ missions. Acquire the game and Players could possibly get the chance to be a part of reality as soon as much more. Are unsuccessful and they are erased without end.

Style is integral to The Entire world Finishes With You. It is woven into the fabric of the sport like it’s woven into the serious-life tapestry of Shibuya, a different of Tokyo’s trend epicenters. Shibuya, and its fashion, has a distinctly exceptional vibe from Harajuku. Shibuya is nittier, grittier, and a minor little bit glitzier.

The developers selected Shibuya as the environment for The World Ends With You and stayed devoted to capturing its rhythm. They walked the streets to be aware the landmarks and avenue scenes to involve in the sport. A aspect of capturing Shibuya is not just in the bodily spots but in conveying how youth subcultures impact the pretty energy of the community. The streets impact the style and the style influences the streets. It’s a dwelling, respiratory symbiote.

Shichi Aoki, the editor and photographer powering FRUiTS, the legendary road vogue journal that aided broadcast Japanese road manner to a world wide audience, explained it most effective in the introduction of Phaidon’s archive of the journal: Manner “advertises certain neighborhood identity” and is a “reaction to the rapid actuality of the road.”

a city street filled with traffic at night

© Photograph: Bruno Perousse/Getty Images

The towering purchasing mecca Shibuya 109, dubbed Shibuya 104 in the game, is continue to a looming presence, and Hachiko’s statue is a meeting position. Milk-tea-blonde gyaru dot the streets, texting their fashionable pals asking where by they’re at and questioning if they’re heading to run into a member of their preferred idol team. Not only did the game’s builders channel the glance and experience of Shibuya down to landmarks like Shibuya 109, they also managed to gamify how fashion trends and model loyalty labored in Shibuya at the time of growth.

Flip through an aged issue of FRUiTS and you’ll see younger experts head to toe in all of their favored models. Some are putting on all Milk, some are carrying all Takuya Angel, some are wearing all W<. It’s loyalty transformed into a community. People who devote themselves to a brand find devotees and worship together. The same thing is reflected in The World Ends With You.

Establishing trends and feeling out which brands are fashionable where is important for gameplay. Wear Wild Boar 104 in an area of Shibuya where it’s more popular and you’ll see a significant stat buff when fighting Noise. Sometimes Neku isn’t cool enough yet to wear something from Tigre Punks. However, the Pins that Neku and the rest of the Players use to harness the power of Psych abilities and fight the Noise are associated with these clothing brands. It’s like having an enamel pin from Champion that gave you telekinesis, and by wearing one of their sweatshirts you became super strong too.

The more Neku wears certain brands and uses their corresponding Pins in battle, the more the visual language of the neighborhood youths shifts. More of the NPCs will wear the brand that Neku’s wearing, and he’ll find himself a trendsetter. This lends itself to the common definition of street fashion: certain trends and styles dictated not by advertisers but rather by the communities that wear them.

The developers originally planned to use all of Tokyo to create the scenery and backdrop for the Reaper’s Game, but ultimately went with just Shibuya. However, fashions from all over Tokyo are represented. Each in-game brand services different sects of Tokyo’s youth culture. Everyone from the gyaru to the young professionals to the punks can find something to wear in the Reaper’s Game.

In Shibuya 104, Wild Boar’s hip-hop-inspired camo pants and graphic tees mimic BAPE’s style. D+B 104 satin camisoles and girl-who’s-a-little-bit-bad styles are like Egoist and rienda. In the game area Cat Street, likely a play on Harajuku’s Takeshita-dori, Sheep Heavenly leans into the technicolor maximalism of decora and DIY brands like 6% Doki Doki and Spank!. KuraKura also falls in line with the decora style too. The Molco area has Tigre Punks, which is all tartan and biker jackets like SEX POT ReVeNGE, and has Neku looking like he could join the latest up-and-coming visual kei band. The various Mus Rattuses sprinkled all over Shibuya are like if Team Message and WEGO had a love child.

Neku starts off as cold, aloof, and a loner when he first wakes up in the Game. His journey—realizing that it doesn’t have to be him against the world, that he can open up and care for other people, and that he can work with others toward a common goal—works with the philosophy of alternative fashions.

Japanese street fashion, the alternative fashions so far away from bland fast fashion sameness, allows for individual expression. Sometimes it’s not about just liking a brand, it’s about how one can take a garment and transform it into something completely unique. It’s about setting yourself apart from the pack but still finding community in people who express themselves using fashion the way you do.

There will always be those with brand loyalty. Those brands, like Alba Rosa and Shibuya’s Senta guys and ganguros, became intertwined with the identity of a specific subculture. You can lose yourself within a collective, but these fashion brands are still alternative and stray from the norm. Community doesn’t have to mean collective sameness.

Neku and the rest of the Players blend into the crowd of Shibuya because they’re living in a parallel dimension and reality can’t see them. But through fashion and by influencing the streets around them, they have an impact and are seen. They’re still pushing up against societal expectations and pressures through their found, fashionable families.

As The World Ends With You experiences a franchise rebirth with the launch of the currently ongoing anime and the sequel NEO: The World Ends With You, slated for release this week, Japanese street fashion is no longer a niche interest but rather a global phenomenon. New brand collaborations are announced practically every month. Japan’s government even nominates international cultural ambassadors who embody the spirit of kawaii fashion.

So it’ll be exciting to see if NEO approaches fashion the same way the original did or if it’ll take into account the rise of fast fashion and the shuttering of independent brands chased out by corporate powerhouses. Regardless, I can’t wait to take down Noise in my Wild Boar best.

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