Helter Skelter

Fashion Unfriendly

Helter Skelter

By Kyoko Okazaki

Graphic Novel/Manga
Paperback, approx. 320 pages, 5.75 x 8.25 inches
978-1-935654-83-4 Buy.
U.S.$16.95 / CAN$17.95

If you are aware of fashion in Japan you must have seen Liliko's face. For the last few years she has been at the top of the modeling world, with her face and body promoting the biggest brands. But as everyone who is in this world admits, staying on top is a constant and never ending battle. There are always new faces introduced to the public. Younger models and new looks are brought into the fold every season. And keeping that position means learning to adapt and learning to cope with change.

To maintain her position Liliko has decided to under the knife. This is not her first go with this service. It is yet another round of plastic surgery, all done to keep herself looking young and vibrant. However in this case just a little nip and tuck was not enough. Liliko is bent on undergoing a full body makeover. From head-to-toe, every inch of her will undergo cosmetic surgery, and thus begins her madness.

Kyoko Okazaki, born December 13, 1963, is considered by many as one of the mothers of josei (women's) comics. Renowned for her minimalist designs and tendency to cover controversial themes, Okazaki cut her teeth in the world adult comics in 1980's.

While studying at Atomi University, Okazaki made her debut in Cartoon Burikko, an experimental adult comic anthology primarily aimed at men. Okazaki would then turn her focus to women's issues. Focusing on the issues of contemporary young women, Okazaki never shied away from street culture, high fashion and drug use in her narratives. She would then take on her first a long-running series called Tokyo Girls Bravo; a rare comic to be published a fashion magazine. Okazaki has been in retirement since the end of the last century as she recovers from a life-threatening traffic accident.

Helter Skelter was adapted into a motion picture in 2012 (now screening in the US in 2013).

In 2004 Helter Skelter was honored in Japan with the two top awards for Japanese comics:

Winner of the 2004 Japan Media Arts Award
Winner of the 2004 Osamu Tezuka Cultural Award

"Vertical are dedicated to bringing the best of Japan's adult comics to English-speaking audiences and Helter Skelter is part of a line books targeting women readers with challenging material that breaks out of the genre ghettos usually attributed to manga. Helter Skelter certainly qualifies. The cautionary tale was collected into a Japanese tankōbon edition in 2003, winning a number of awards including the 2004 Osamu Tezuka Culture Prize, and was subsequently adapted into a film shown in Cannes. Grim, existential and explicit, this is not a book for kids or the squeamish, but it is a dark marvel of graphic narrative and one well deserving of your attention.”
Now Read This!

"So much happens here that could be termed a car crash, but Okazaki is so compelling a storyteller that you read on anyway, even as modeling turns to adultery, assault and multiple suicides. The title is completely appropriate – and no, despite the song getting a mention right at the end, I don't think it's entirely talking about The Beatles. The Helter Skelter is a British amusement park ride (tornado slide for U.S. readers) that is a wild, out of control ride that makes the reader want to go back to the top when they hit the bottom. Likewise Liliko hits rock bottom at the end of this book, but that doesn't mean that we should count her out, or that this is the end. Her story (and possible new downfall) is only beginning.”
Suitable for Treatment

"Helter Skelter is a suspense-bordering-on-horror story about the unraveling of an immensely popular model's life and the people caught in the vortex of it. While the story buys itself a lot of leeway with its unique approach to the genre, it ultimately provides enough twisted thrills to overcome its flaws.”
Comic Picks

"This literally is a story about fame and celebrity culture, and how warped it's become. It tells a story that we see from multiple perspectives: from Liliko’s perspective, to Hada’s perspective, to family's perspective, and to close confidants' perspectives. It leads and informs, and not in a manner that disrespects the reader or would force them to grow bored quickly. It gets hairy. It might even get a bit disgusting too...Again, you're not going to find many heroes in Helter Skelter. But that's ok. I didn't expect that when reading this. Instead, I found a carefully crafted work that it's definitely worth buying however you can.”