I first reviewed Japanese football magazine Shukyu when it launched last year; at the time the only regret about it was there wasn’t an English translation. Visually, though, I found it to be a strong mix of east and west, expressing the global nature of modern football.
Issue two continues in the same vein — it’s a lovely piece of magazine making that will appeal to the football fan for its unique outlook on the sport and to the magaholic for the perfection of its format and physical presence.
Sometimes a magazine lacks flickability; not Shukyu. The qualities of the papers used here– a contemporary combination of matt and silk finishes — and a lightweight cover stock make the magazine highly flickable. This along with the mid-size page format give the magazine a really satisfying physical presence. As an object – very important of course — it is perfectly scaled and weighted, and the slightly dimpled cover paper adds further specialness.
Inside the issue there’s a good mix of the straight and simple — this being the ‘Body’ issue, an interview with footballer Shinji Kagawa (above) focuses on health and diet — and more obtuse, amusing stories that still keep to the theme, like a photo report on how footballers deal with injuries (below). This is all the more amusing for the seriousness of the presentation, a visual taxonomy of floor techinique showing different body positions for the injured. As a football fan I recognise these body shapes; the accompanying text makes the very reasonable point that if we saw someone in the street in a similar position we would rush to help. In football it is part of the theatre.
We visit a Berlin amateur league match (above), with translated captions benefitting from a slightly skewed use of English, and there’s a too-brief series of illustrations by Adrian Mangel highlighting the body language of leading football managers including ‘Carlo Ancelotti’s left eyebrow’ (below).
On a more serious note, there’s an extraordinary tale of post-war doping in European sport, which research indicates included the West German football team in the 1950s; a report from a the Japanese football training centre that happens to be in the Fukushima area of the country, site of the earthquake and subsequent nuclear leak.
It’s a really rich magazine, looking beyond the standard football stories at the culture of the sport.
And that language problem? The publishers have kindly inserted a translated version of the texts in booklet form (above) attached by rubber band, a satisfyingly lo-fi method that adds to the tactile experience of the magazine.