The past year has not been kind to the glossy magazines that target the fashion-conscious young people who frequent the Shibuya entertainment area of Tokyo.
Last October, Men’s Egg (by Taiyotosho) ceased publication. That was followed by the cancellation of Edge Style (Futabasha) in February.
Two months later, Inforest Publishing, which filed for bankruptcy with an accumulated debt of three billion yen, announced the suspension of Koakuma Agega, a magazine dedicated to the gyaru scene, which is composed of women with an excessively glamorous appearance.
Now, reports Weekly Playboy (June 2), venerable Egg, another monthly fashion publication for girls that debuted in 1995, will send its final issue to newsstands on May 31 — a development that causes the weekly to wonder: What happened to the ostentatious denizens of Shibuya?
For insights, the magazine turns to an editor working in the publishing gyaru-themed magazines for 10 years.
“Popteen (Kadokawa Haruki) and Ranzuki (Bunkasha) are struggling to stay alive,” says the editor, referring to two remaining publications. “The fact is that circulation for both is way down compared to years ago.”
The glory days are long gone. There have been rumors that Egg’s circulation reached as low as 50,000 copies, says the editor, who adds that the chances of Koakuma Ageha finding a purchaser are small.
In tracing the demise, Weekly Playboy notes the extinction of the ganguro, also known by the name yamaba. An offshoot of the gyaru, a ganguro is a deeply tanned woman with her hair dyed blonde. “There’s not even one or two models out there to appear,” notes the aforementioned editor, referring to ganguro magazine Egg, which routinely features readers in its pages.
Further, the extinction of the gyaru coincides with the demise of its counterpart, the gyaruo. With spiky hair and pointed shoes, these men came to be known by the term “Center Guy” (a play on the name of a road that splits Shibuya) in 2003. Three years later, department store chain Tokyu dedicated an entire floor of an outlet to their fashions, which tended towards attire one might find on a bar host in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho.
They shopped and loitered in Shibuya, and together grew to great prominence in the public’s eye, coming to symbolize the area’s young people. On some days, the two groups would pack clubs with between 1,000 and 2,000 people.
Then what happened? A freelance cameraman who covered the scene says being conspicuous finally lost its luster.
“Back then, they stood out from the crowd, with half of them looking like rough necks,” he says. “Their dark skin and showy clothes caused them to increasingly assemble together and identify with one another as being the same race.”
In short, they had the status of being “Shibuya people,” but the need for such an association died due to the impact of the yutori kyoiku educational system, whose intention was to relieve stresses placed upon students by reducing class hours and encouraging creative endeavors, says the cameraman.
“So, there was no meaning in being a gyaru or gyaruo any longer,” says the cameraman. (A.T.)
Source: “Shibuya no gyaru & gyaruo ha doko he kieta!?” Weekly Playboy (June 3, pages 147-149)