Design: Japanese Movie Posters

When it comes to the design of American movies for an Asian market it seems to fall into 3 pretty distinct categories; First, earlier stuff (1950’s-60′) was mostly color collages – exposing the Asian audience to the Wests biggest stars with loads of bright type and multiple large photographs, always interesting but at times extremely busy. The second phase – the more current movie where, essentially, the American art work is simply translated into Japanese w/ no real design change. Then there are these – all represent the movie perfectly but bear no real resemblance to the existing Western artwork – and all are designed extremely beautifully and simply.

The Big Lebowski, 1998. The American art is depicts the Dude and Walter standing in a bowling lane starring full face at the camera on a hazy background. Walter holds a gun and the Dude is in his signature sweater – pretty straight forward. The Japanese artwork went for a more dreamlike quality – not telling us a thing about this film other then it may be about bowling. Great use of large pillowy type – the best art for this title.

Apocalypse Now, 1979 The American poster is great – a red tinted moon w/ Brando and Martin Sheen. The Japanese poster breaks all the rules, taking a stylized drawing of one of the films best known sceens and letting it stand on it’s own. You almost hear the Wagner aria playing in the background of this poster.

Kill Bill V2, 2004. No Uma Thurman in her yellow jumpsuit this time. She’s still got her sword but this time in her wedding gown w/ a tattoo-like design w/ a phrase that never appears or is spoken any time in the film.

The Elephant Man, 1980 – A beautiful simple touching poster.

Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006 – A real departure from any of the other artwork for this title. Other then a small fairy there is absolutely no indication of what this movie is about, playing on the fairy-tale aspect as opposed to the monsters.

No Country for Old Men, 2007 – The original poster is exceptionally boring – This is better, much better.

Amelie, 2001 – This is a really beautifully designed poster. The first I’ve ever seen where the credits are placed at the top and not along the bottom. It is a poster of details – the paintings on the wall, the pig clock, the bright red walls – a great piece.

Barbarella, 1968 – I’ve included this for the simple reason that I like it, alot. The American version is a Frank Frazetta-like illustration and is very comic-bookish. This is bright and colorful and odd.


Posted on October 2, 2011, in Graphic Design and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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