Warning: this video/essay contains imagery that may be disturbing to some viewers.
“Shit and sex are merely the starting points, and unless you can tick those off you can’t even begin thinking about a narrative.” – Shintaro Kago
Since the material written on Shintaro Kago is extremely sparse, I feel that he deserves to be presented beyond that which is covered in this piece; therefore, I will most likely be writing an analysis of one of his individual works in the future, in order to give more context into my feelings on his output.
Shintaro Kago is a self identified kisou mangaka, a title which roughly translates to “bizarre manga artist.” He was born in Tokyo in 1969 and made his debut in manga around 1988, working for Comic Box magazine. Many of his works are experimental in effect and frequently break the fourth wall, as well as explore various extreme takes on page layout. He is most known as an author of the Ero Guro genre, which frequently blends eroticism and the grotesque. Many have referred to his works as “Fashionable Paranoia.” To quote Deculture: “According to the author, the stories and themes dealt with in his works are extreme because he pursues the development of a voice of his own within the limits of the rules and principles in which he himself has to move.” As well as occasional horrific sculptures of scat and corpses, Kago is also known for manufacturing various grotesque toys. Despite his constant output of Ero Guro material, he was most notably featured in Weekly Young Jump (a weekly seinen manga publication) with his sci-fi work Super-Conductive Brains Parataxis. Recently, he was notably featured as a guest artist in the preview for the Flying Lotus album “You’re Dead.”
His manga frequently explore the theme of scatology, in an interview with Vice magazine from 2008, he was quoted saying that “Scat is just something that I use as a riff for my stories. I chose the theme because at the time that I started doing it, nobody else was famous for it in the manga world. Also, I usually try to adhere to the format of the magazine I’m drawing for and back then most of the magazines that featured my work were quite peculiar. The shit-themed stuff came about when I started drawing a serial for this manga magazine that specializes in scat.” When asked in said interview if he found his own material sexually satisfying he responded with: “No, I don’t engage in those sorts of activities. It’s not even a fantasy of mine. It just happens to be one of the themes that I use… I’m not really into drawing sex scenes, and if I had a choice I’d prefer not to. But when you’re drawing for an erotic magazine, you sort of can’t avoid it.” Some examples of his titles include: Six Consciousnesses Thought Changing Ataraxia (六識転想アタラクシア), Dance! Kremlin Palace (踊る！クレムリン御殿), Ruggedness Nymphomania (凸凹ニンフォマニア), and An Inquiry Concerning A Mechanistic Worldview of the Pituitary Gland. I am going to end this introduction with a quote from when Kago was asked by Vice to clarify his statements on not self-identifying as an artist: “I believe that it’s the viewer who decides whether your work is art or if you’re an artist, not the creator.”
If this piqued your interest into the works of Shintaro Kago, keep an eye out for my in depth analysis of one of his works in the future and consider subscribing to my youtube channel.