1. Manga Mondays ~ Jun Kumaori


    Jun Kumaori, aka ‘KMR’ and ‘Jun Ayafuya,’ is a Japanese artist based in Kyoto. Her paintings place solitary students in everyday surroundings. Kumaori adds an element of escapism to her sombre-toned portrayal of youngsters using an impressionist-influenced painting style.

    Born in 1988, Kumaori has worked professionally since 2010. Magazine and book cover illustrations make up the majority of her portfolio. However, she has also illustrated World’s End Girl Friend (2011) written by Kou Arakawa and Mitsunori Enami’s Funeral Trilogy, which was released between 2013/2014 and collected in 2015.

    In 2013, Kumaori illustrated Sadako’s One Thousand Paper Cranes. Written by Masahiro Sasaki, the book tells the true story of his younger sister, Sadako Sasaki. A Hiroshima bombing victim, Sadako was a baby when the bomb dropped in 1945 and only showed signs of the radiation ten years later. Sadako spent her time in a hospital folding origami paper cranes in hopes of making a thousand of them.

    Though Kumaori creates lively and colorful illustrations, much of her work focuses on themes of melancholy and nostalgia. Young girls explore the world with absent expressions no matter how fantastical their setting may be. Even when paired with animals, friends or a passerby, the overwhelming feeling of loneliness still prevails. Kumaori’s desaturated scenes frame characters center, at eye-level, with ample air around them. Yet these elements, used to convey a humdrum story, come in direct conflict with Kumaori’s expressive brush strokes. Consequently, she triumphs in dabbing magic into the mundane.

    You can find more of Jun Kumaori’s work on her website, and follow her on Twitter.