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Artistic nude photo book of actress Makiko Esumi.


Reviewed on: 1998.03.14 Last modified: 2004-04-12

Published: Nov. 1, 1996. More info Publisher: Little More Co. More info ISBN: 4947648406 More info Price in Japan: ¥2,500, More info Qualities: Soft cover, mostly B/W photos, matte paper More info Size: A4, pp. More info Language: Japanese

For a celebrity nude photo book, this one is a very nice change of pace. It is highly artistic, which means you may not understand it. Yet, the photos are beautiful, conveying a compelling mood.

This is Makiko Esumi's first photo book. Born in 1966 in Shimane Pref., Esumi is a former top fashion model who has successfully embarked on an acting career. She also appears on TV commercials and product pamphlets (like for Canon's IXY). She became a fashion model by accident, literally. After graduating from high school, she joined a volleyball team. An injury then put her in the hospital where she was scouted for fashion modeling. She became a top model for Japanese fashion magazines like anan and later started appearing in commercials and print ads. Her acting career started in 1995, especially with a movie called Maboroshi no Hikari which won an award at the 52nd Venice International Film Festival. While doing this movie, she met the photographer of this photo book. She married a guy named Roland Kirishima in 1996 but divorced 9 months later.

Thanks to a few hit TV series (especially "Shomuni" in 1998 where she played a miniskirted office worker), her popularity has risen sharply. Hip-hugging miniskirts have become her trademark.

The book has 48 photos, one on each page. Most photos are B/W, sepia-toned, dark or underexposed. Black is the dominant color as hinted by the book's black cover. The photos have a very subtle tonal range, making them look more like ink paintings. The sky, ocean, or mountain serves as the backdrop for the outdoor scenes. The book's theme concerns solitude. "We are born alone, and we die alone," writes Esumi on the last page of the book.

She is pictured all alone in the vast expanse of a shoreline, mountainside, or sky. She is lying, standing, sitting, or kneeling (while wearing a thin dress). It's her alone amid the greatness of nature.

That's the first part of the book. The second part of the book is where the nudity begins. First you see her seated and crouched. In subsequent photos, she unravels and stands up. Along the way, there are close-ups of her back, breast, and eye. The last photo has her lying down on the side with her back facing us (similar to the book's cover photo) in front of a white background. All photos in this second part are B/W. This book seems almost religious in nature (there is a shot of Esumi praying to the sun). Someone could easily insert religious captions or poetry under the photos, but it's not about religion. It's about a fine work of art.