Cyzo!

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If you believe the common arguments offered on this blog, the magazine Cyzo should not exist. I’m always barking about “no criticism” in the Japanese press, and Momus claims that this is because the Japanese are extremely satisfied with their society and culture. Well, Cyzo is a very popular monthly magazine that casually scatters, smothers, covers, chunks, tops, and dices the Japanese culture industries without drifting into the heavy conspiracy angle of underground publications like Uwasa no Shinsou. Cyzo is satire and dissent at its slickest — and most cheerful.

For all of their brave bashing of the entertainment/media cabal, the magazine still navigates very narrow waters. They’ve been sued by new religions and Nigo for saying mean things. And the huge talent agencies have pretty much blocked them from getting top-tier bikini models for their covers. (After several articles trashing Orange Range’s melodic thievery, they are no longer welcome friends to Stardust Production.) No matter, they get all the best talent from the outsider networks and great access to anonymous insiders. If Cyzo were published in English, my blog would most likely become obsolete, seeing that my most “controversial” positions are just lifted and recycled from this alternative media world.

Some articles from this month’s issue:

• Article on how the music business has tried to destroy the upstart chaku-uta (downloadable ringtones) industry.

• A conversation with three major stylists to the stars. A telling quote about A Bathing Ape: “Now, the only people who buy Bape are young students coming to Tokyo on field trips, but it’s really big right now in New York as a hip-hop brand.”

• Small article bemoaning the possibility of having to deal with an endless lifetime of Tsuji Nozomi and Kago Ai (Morning Musume/W members) on TV.

• Article on Matsuda Seiko and her daughter’s fall-out that highlights a lot of music industry politics. For example, the daughter Sayaka has run to industry “don” Suho Ikuo (Burning Pro) to protect her, and the magazine speculates that the recent press on the incident was pay-back for Matsuda’s disrespect of Suhou’s friend in the past.

• Small article on people who record the backstage chatter of idol concerts.

• Komuro Family: Where are they now?

• Large article on how Japan’s top subtitler Toda Natsuko keeps messing up the translation for big American movies, with exposition on how the subtitling industry works.

• Story on how Nara Prefecture has started a “Deai-kei” mail magazine to help counter the fall in childbirths.

Any interesting side note: Talking to a freelance reporter, he told me that the debates on 2-ch give magazines most of their ideas for stories. So when they write about pakuri or translation mistakes, etc., they generally report “Everyone on 2-ch is up in arms about…” as a way to not get themselves in trouble for opening up the issue themselves. This is a very intriguing role for the Japanese internet.

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

20 Responses

  1. dzima Says:

    OK, point taken. しかし、my question is: when are you going to start posting photos of girls in bikinis here as well?

  2. Just a Passerby Says:

    Girls in bikinis? As long as it’s not Iria Saaya…

  3. Brad Says:

    Even though I’m years late to the party, I’ve started to really get into 2ch as a source of info. It really is a ridiculous in terms of the amount of bullshit you have to wade through to get “valuable” information, but if you narrow your search to one small thing, you can usually find out some interesting things…

  4. marxy Says:

    Ditto. There’s so much good dirt on the entertainment industry posted on 2-ch, and if you know what to trust, it’s a good source for leads.

  5. Jesse Says:

    So how popular is this magazine? And it’s interesting that they feel obligated to have bikini models on the cover. I’m trying to picture an analogous US insider magazine doing the same thing, and I’m imagining that they’d feel it would detract from the seriousness of their stories. Or perhaps the better analogy would be to British tabloids?

  6. Momus Says:

    Perhaps the better analogy would be the British tabloids.

    You took the words right out of my mouth, Jesse. I was just imagining an excited Japanese Marxy sitting in London, attacking British culture daily, stumbling on a copy of The Sun, and saying “Wow! If this were translated into Japanese nobody would read my blog any more! It’s got lots of stuff about British sleaze and corruption in it (and topless girls)…”

  7. marxy Says:

    Well, no, Cyzo is not like the British tabloids in that it is:

    1) One of a kind.
    2) Sophisticated dissent and cynical satire for a well-educated audience.
    3) A small number of bikini shots than full out nudity.
    4) Not part of the media structure, but working outside of it.

    The shukanshi are the better match to British tabloids. But if you’ve decided a long time ago that me being right may interfere with your world-view, than yes, I’m an idiot.

  8. josh Says:

    I was just imagining an excited Japanese Marxy Momus sitting in London, attacking British American culture daily weekly…

    just had to said.

  9. josh Says:

    “be”

  10. nathaniel smith Says:

    I browsed the issue you’ve thumbnailed. Good stuff.
    In keeping up with numbered lists:

    1. Dacapo (ダカーポ)is somewhat similar but in a thicker tankou-sized format. They did a thing on uyoku groups last month.
    2. Emm…How did that audience manage to make it through the Japanese education system?
    3. Is this the necessary grab to get the shuukanshi-lovin’ salaryman to check it out perhaps :)
    4. Yeah…where do you draw the line on what is part of the ‘media structure’? I see this on the magazine racks….

  11. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    I think that Translator’s name is Natsuko.
    Sounds like she got some hobbits really upset.

    Lower Them Thangs

  12. marxy Says:

    Yeah, it’s Natsuko. I looked it up to make sure and then wrote the wrong thing.

    2. Emm…How did that audience manage to make it through the Japanese education system?

    I get a sense that the readers are mostly people in the media or in “New Economy” type jobs.

    3. Is this the necessary grab to get the shuukanshi-lovin’ salaryman to check it out perhaps :)

    The bikini covers? In the past, there were no bikini covers, so I think it’s an inevitable business move.

    4. Yeah…where do you draw the line on what is part of the ‘media structure’? I see this on the magazine racks….

    While Cyzo has very good distribution, it is not owned by one of the big publishing houses. And the fact that they’ve been blocked out from getting “A-level” talent is a sign that they’re not “in the system” like the other magazines. Again, it’s a sign of degree – they’re not underground, but they’re also not tied into the regular Japanese business world. Look at the ads. They’re mostly minor or new companies.

  13. Chris_B Says:

    momus: coming from an illiterate such as yourself, such speculation seems darned empty…

  14. Brent Says:

    so would you compare it to something like Adbusters in the sense that it’s a criticism on mainstream society, and yet it manages to find a place amongst those it criticizes?

    I don’t know how much a bikini girl does to support or attack your position. I’d say that there are plenty of magazines in America that offer legitimate social critiques and still sell sensationalism be it sex, drugs, or rock ‘n roll.

    I have to agree with you. Just because there’s not a lot of vocal speaking up, doesn’t mean the Japanese don’t have anything to say. Anyone who has seen a student inside Japanese classroom and then outside can tell you that.

  15. Telstar Says:

    This is a little off-topic… or, it relates to your previous post about the role that cellphones play in deterring music sales… and it sort of relates to this post, but anyhoo…

    How come Japanese CDs are so damn expensive? It seems to be something having to do with the Japanese recording industry, as during my last visit to Tokyo, I noticed that American import CDs were much less expensive than those by homegrown artists (and that’s saying something, given how expensive CDs have become stateside).

    All of which is to say, are the Japanese labels simply pricing themselves into irrelevance? 3000 yen for a disc? That’s absurd.

  16. Telstar Says:

    This is a little off-topic… or, it relates to your previous post about the role that cellphones play in deterring music sales… and it sort of relates to this post, but anyhoo…

    How come Japanese CDs are so damn expensive? It seems to be something having to do with the Japanese recording industry, as during my last visit to Tokyo, I noticed that American import CDs were much less expensive than those by homegrown artists (and that’s saying something, given how expensive CDs have become stateside).

    All of which is to say, are the Japanese labels simply pricing themselves into irrelevance? 3000 yen for a disc? That’s absurd.

  17. jasong Says:

    Looks like an interesting magazine. Have they dared disparage Johnny’s empire yet?

    You mentioned you’re writing something on the music business? It’s a minor sub-genre, but ビジュアル系 is a microcosm of the monopolistic techniques found in the mainstream – you’d be very interested in how visual fans truly (and happily) get bilked. I know someone heavily into the scene, if you’re interested.

  18. Jesse Says:

    Momus, if you’d like to thank me for taking words out of your mouth, then please don’t put words in mine. Clearly I’ve stumbled into the middle of an ongoing debate, but please don’t drag the new guy into it without his consent. Anyway, my impression is that marxy does like Japanese culture, otherwise he wouldn’t have such a mad on about so much of it sucking ass (in his subjective experience, of course). And marxy, I hope that the idiot comment wasn’t aimed at me. Returning to the original topic, I don’t suppose you have any data about the size of Cyzo’s readership, do you?

  19. marxy Says:

    so would you compare it to something like Adbusters

    It’s way less political than adbusters. Cyzo has just figured out that dissent is sometimes a lot sexier than consent.

    How come Japanese CDs are so damn expensive?

    Institutional price collusion. They have a “resell price law” that prohibits underselling the “suggested retail price.” Music has always been very expensive in Japan, but hey, if you can set the market price, why not set it high? The 3000 cds is what keeps a lot of small labels in business.

    Looks like an interesting magazine. Have they dared disparage Johnny’s empire yet?

    Bungei Shunju did write about Johnny molesting young boys and was sued by Johnny. But they won the case, as the judge decided that the accuser was indeed credible.

    Re: Visual-kei

    I’m very interested, especially in the production studios behind the major acts. Email me if you have some leads. Thanks!

    I don’t suppose you have any data about the size of Cyzo’s readership, do you?

    Unfortunately not, but it’s a magazine you can get about anywhere these days. In the x0,000 range?

    And marxy, I hope that the idiot comment wasn’t aimed at me.

    No, just more defensive action against Momus.

  20. r. Says:

    i heard on 2chan that there is some kind of new spray that is “effective in preventing momus”