Product Review: Hardware Girls

Do you like old devices? Old devices...such as analog synthesizers from the ‘70s and ‘80s, 8-bit and 16-bit game systems like Atari, NES, and Sega, the cube-like Apple computer, an exposed arcade game circuit board... The unrefined but endearing plastic exterior and the cold sharpness of the structures inside are actually filled with exciting elements.

Both in the past and now, something capivates us about things like personal computers, synthesizers, and electronic toys. There is a collection of photographs that brings this kind of hardware together with adorable girls in the same frame. The collection is by the multi-talented Julie Watai––a photographer, artist, and glamour model––and is titled Hardware Girls.”

The lineup of products appearing in Hardware Girls will be exciting to anyone with an interest in devices. Analog synthesizers, such as KORG’s MS-20, Roland’s TR-909, and Moogerfooger, and other well-known cheap music-making devices from the past; a DOS/V compatible tower yellowed by tobacco smoke; music toys that are loud but seem hollow; an arcade game circuit board; old PC game software and an NES keyboard; old monster figures; brightly colored pieces of modern art––“hardware” spills forth from the photos, looking like toys, toys, and more toys. In the center of the photos are girls from various areas, including singers, models, and voice actresses, posing as though intertwined with the hardware.

Having old machines and cheap electronic toys as the central theme sometimes creates an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. However, by presenting the devices as fetish objects while simultaneously combining the sexual appeal and cuteness of the girls, Julie Watai successfully brings out the sexuality of both throughout the photographs. This is done in excess, and rather than being beautiful, it has a trashy, low-brow coolness to it. This overabundance may also be present when she displays her own sex appeal in cosplay photographs.

The photo collection also gives the impression of being a type of “Cool Japan” made by a Japanese person for herself as a Japanese person that brings a sexiness to the girls, toys, and machines within the bold colors and shadows. It’s another variety of Japan’s “mecha and bishoujo” combination and exemplifies the trashy and low-brow aspects of “kawaii.” Anyone who wishes to glimpse deeper into the otaku culture of Japan ought to take a look at Julie Watai’s photographs.

But you don’t even have to think about it that deeply. A sexy girl is playing an MS-20! She’s covered in circuit boards! It’s enough to just take pleasure in this concept, which is fairly easy to understand.

Hardware Girls

This is a Tokyo Otaku Mode original article written by usaco and translated by Sarah J.

Product Review: Hardware Girls 1
Product Review: Hardware Girls 2
Product Review: Hardware Girls 3
Product Review: Hardware Girls 4
Product Review: Hardware Girls 5
Product Review: Hardware Girls 6

You belong in the TOM Fan Club. Don't keep TOM Senpai waiting: