Monday, September 13, 2010

Tokyo Trip Part 3: CLAMP x Blythe Dolls Collaboration

Venus Forte
I've always loved dolls. Perhaps I'm a girly-girl or perhaps I love the idea of make-believe or perhaps I see dolls as works of art. Or I just like pretty things. I have an affinity for inanimate objects, it seems, and as a child, I used to believe that my stuffed animals and dolls had souls. It was a very burdensome belief, because I used to feel sorry for a doll when I liked it a little less than the another doll. But surely I'm not the only one who cried a bucket of tears when watching Toy Story 3. Truthfully, I was not a big fan of ever-so-popular Blythe dolls because I personally prefer dainty Victorian-style porcelain dolls, and as Mokono-sensei put it very well in the CLAMP interview from Me & My Blythe "To be honest she appeared very scary at first."

Perchance, I was at Odaiba Venus Forte on my second day in Tokyo (actually, it was not perchance, it was a girl's shopping quest), when I saw the huge banners advertising Blythe Doll's 9th Anniversary Charity Exhibition Manga Girls Inspiration. I first heard of the CLAMP x Blythe collaboration at Chibi Yuuto Chronicles and thought of course our adorable Sakura-chan should be made into a doll. (Tomoyo would approve 100%.) I've always been fascinated by the Sakura-doll in Sakura-chan's room in the CCS anime, that Tomoyo made for her. Admittedly, there is something deliciously creepy about Blythe dolls which surprisingly works with Sakura! I love the original CLAMP design (many thanks for the image to Chibiyuuto) for Kinomoto Sakura, which looks like an evil chibi-Sakura. I've never seen her drawn with that kind of expression before. When I saw the design, I couldn't help thinking, why does that face look so familiar? And then I realized it reminded me of a fanart I drew of chibi-Syaoran many years back for Kirei Blossom (creator of the New Trial Yahoo Group).

I was traveling with two illustration majors who luckily share my penchant for pretty things, hence I pointed to the big poster and asked, "Oh my gosh, is this here?" And we preceded to hunt down the location. The exhibit was originally held in the Omotesando Hills in June, and I did not know it was moved to Venus Forte. And thus, perhaps a quarter of an hour before closing time, we stumbled upon doll's galore
on the first floor of the shopping complex. Mind you, these are not just ordinary play-dolls. They are works of art. The costume, the hair, the concept. This exhibition was themed "Manga Girls Inspiration" hence there were many familiar character designs everywhere. And I knew that Sakura-ninkyo would be somewhere, so it was quite a fun search. Unfortunately, the Watanuki-doll seems to not have made it to this exhibit. 

Below, I have provided plentiful pictures of the whole exhibit, though they do not do justice to the actual dolls. They were indeed a pain to put together, but please enjoy. You can see the little placates for the dolls that were manga-inspired. I wish I read some Japanese. My favorites included the Kiki from Hayao Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service and some of the elaborate Goth looking dolls. It was nostalgic to see Magical Princess Minky Momo, probably the first mahou shoujo series that I ever learned of at age 5 or 6. I used to have a Mink coloring book and hairpin.

Seeing the CLAMP x Blythe Collaboration Sakura-doll was all the more serendipitous because I hadn't planned on seeing this exhibit, hadn't even been thinking about it, and yet stumbled upon because I wanted to ride the Yurikamome (the elevated trains where you can see the awesome night view of Tokyo Bay area and Rainbow Bridge). Hence, at that moment, I thought, ah synchronicity. My trip to Tokyo had been very last minute and was very short, hence it was centered around food/touring/shopping. I didn't get to go to Akihabara and manga/anime stuff was (unfortunately) not a priority at this time. And even so, I was brought to Kinomoto Sakura.

Click on image below to enlarge.


  1. While I'm not a fan of Blythe dolls, looking at the exhibit is just creepy *and* beautifully elaborate at the same time.

    And I totally never noticed that Blythe-Sakura's expression matches the chibi-Syao expression.. it was an "oooooh!!" moment for me.

    But it sounds like you saw so much in a little time.

  2. @Kirei-chan

    Dolls in general can be very creepy, but I agree, Blythe dolls are especially more so because of their marble-sized eyes.

    But the costumes were so beautiful... pictures really do not do much justice; I had my nose pressed to the glass trying to look at all the beading and lace and embroidery. ^_^

  3. Oh god, that doll was so creepy when photos first showed up on livejournal! It looks so much cuter in your photos!

    It was the eyes in the promo photos-they were hooded and it made her look like she was plotting...

  4. I kinda agree with SelenityShiroi and KireiBlossom they do look kinda cute but in a creepy kinda way... Maybe if Blythe made them smile a bit..