The latest issue of Japanese football mag Shukyu is a world cup special. What makes that notable is it’s the magazine’s first world cup; their first issue appeared only three years ago, they’ve not published alongside the tournament yet.
The subject plays to the magazine’s strength, its photography. Recent issues have added a booklet of English text translations but for me it’s always been the imagery (photo and illustration) that appeals. Partly because of the basic quality of the images, but also the way they’re used in the Japanese layout design is so different to how we in the west crop and place images.
The use of multiple images on the front cover is a typical example of this. A common approach in Japanese publishing, we just don't seem to be able to apply it successfully here in Europe. Even when we shift from the close up headshot we still rely on a full bleed or framed single image.
Anyhow, this sixth edition leads with its photography and forms a lovely record of the Russia 2018 world cup, starting with this shot (above) of a helper directing fans. This smiling image sets the tone for the issue, which reflects the general lasting impression of a more open, happier country than had been predicted.
Opening with a spectacular 30-page series of photographs by Kisshomaru Shimamura, we arrive in the country, meets fans, see the transport systems and build up to a match – the essay ends with this image (above) of fans watching the big screen in one of the fan parks. The world cup has kicked off!
Souvenirs and memorabilia are an essential part of the world cup experience, and a brief series of items, including these mini stadia (above) and a match ticket (below) are recorded by Gottingham.
There’s something appropriately contrary about using illustration to portray the effect of the VAR video refereeing that was used for the first time; City Boys FC present their thoughts on the subject (above) as a break from the reportage.
Then we have the matches themselves, of which I’ve pulled out this single spread as a great example of telling a story with clarity and power. The England v Croatia semi final saw Englands Kieran Tripper (left) score early in the match, only for Luca Modric (right) to mastermind a come back for his Croatian side.
The largest audience for the tournament remained at home watching on TV and mobile; none more so than in Italy, whose national team failed to qualify for the world cup finals for the first time in 60 years. Matteo de Mayda shot this series of images (above) of different nationalities watching their teams in bars and homes across Rome. We also meet a number of other publishers/ brands who got involved in the tournament, including our friends from OOF and Season Zine (below).
The issue ends with Nam Kunn’s pictures of French supporters celebrating their cup-winning team in central Paris (above).
The images are backed up by some useful texts: Kisshomaru Shimamura explains how he went about compiling his opening essay, and the editor shares his Russia diary, day by day, match by match. And the contrast between the apparent openness of the host country and recent actions of its government are briefly examined in a column about Pussy Riot’s pitch protest during the cup final match.
Editor-in-chief: Takashi Agami
Art director: So Hashizume