Recently a thing that I’ve been noticing (just speaking as your average otaku) is the rise of gyaru characters in anime. My curiosity often gets the better of me, so I take a look at the anime that feature such characters, and without fail I tend to die a little on the inside when looking at them. Often, the works are harem based anime meant for a very male audience.
They make me long for the days when anime that gyaru liked (as opposed to anime with gyaru characters) were at the forefront of the market.
The 2000 to 2007 period in anime-related songs (at least in the mainstream perception) were truly defined by gyaru. At first, you had Inuyasha. The insert songs featured everyone from Ayumi Hamasaki to BoA to Do As Infinity, really showing the best that Avex had to offer at that time.
No overview of this period would be complete without talking about Ai Yazawa. It was through her fashionable spreads, charismatic characters and very J-drama trope heavy stories that you saw the triple intersection between fashion, music, and anime.
Even now it would be hard to explain just how large Nana was during that 2003 to 2007 period. Simple recitations of its sales (live action, anime, and manga) do not do its popularity justice. Neither does explaining the fact that demand overseas was so huge even derivative works like the fanbook were officially licensed in multiple markets, since that alone doesn’t capture just how larger than life the work felt.
Perhaps imagining some entertainment behemoth that literally combined fashion, lifestyle and music as one particular work may help shed some light into just what this series meant for many a preteen and teenager at the time. Nothing today comes even remotely close to capturing that sort of attention, something even American suburban teenagers could attest to and write about over a decade later.