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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Halcali and "Pakuri"

"Something else that really needs commenting on is the design of the sleeve. I can't remember the last sleeve I saw that was so interesting and inventive"

Those were the sparkling comments I made on the Nagi Noda designed sleeve for Ongaku No Susume. Now I stumble across this article over at Neomarxisme, where he draws attention to the ongoing internet (the Japanese part of it anyway) debate regarding Noda's rather heavy borrowing of Aida Makoto's Aze Michi for Ongaku's sleeve. This is a rather large slap in the face for me, who had wholeheartedly enthused the freshness of the artwork, even when the album it was slapped on was anything but. This wholesale incorperation of another artists work into your own (while keeping quiet about it) is known in Japan as pakuri. Now then, the problem I have with this isn't that Noda borrowed (you might say "stole") ideas from Makoto. If Noda had made it clear that she was, say, a fan of Makoto's and that this was an intentional homage to promote his work then OK. In fact, taking this path would presumably have brought a lot of mainstream exposure to a fairly obscure artist. My gripe is that she did it without acknowledging Makoto at all, making a deliberate attempt to pass the work off as her own, whilst making a financial gain in the process.

Last year I was amazed to hear that Orange Range had ripped the twee heart out of Kylie Minogue's mid-80's hit Locomotion (which is itself a cover of a song Carol King and Gerry Goffin wrote in 1962 for their maid Little Eve) and stuck it smack into the middle of their own Kokorotion. This was not a sample, they had lifted huge portions of the melody and stuck it right in. An artless piece of thievery, no doubt, yet at the time I was hard pressed to find someone on the street who even knew that this Japanese hit was less than 40% original. The notion of pakuri seemed to go unquestioned by the Japanese media, and seemed everyday enough to barely raise a comment when I brought the J-pop Kylie King hybrid up with friends. Which leaves you to wonder, does the Estate of Kylie Minogue Ltd. even know about this? Or are Orange Range and Noda just sat somewhere with their fingers crossed?

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