OUT magazine cover, September 1984

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So, I found this image in a post on Crunchyroll, and prior to this I’d never seen OUT magazine before. Apparently it was an 80s monthly anime publication like Newtype or Animage. This particular issue focused on Macross: Do You Remember Love?, which is why Lynn Minmay is on the cover (1984 MOVIES IN SUMMER!).

What struck me about this image, and made me want to comment on it, is how vividly real it feels, how evocative of a place and time. Minmay is foregrounded, lovingly rendered and shaded in soft pastels by her original designer, Haruhiko Mikimoto. She projects a warm summertime glow, the carefree windblown nature of her hair and outfit embodying ease, lightness, fun. The image is beautiful on its own, but the real genius here was in superimposing it on the photo.

MAPLE FARM looks like a quintessential 1980s summer resort, with its pleated patio umbrella and table with gigantic phone, fruity drink and ash tray (public smoking!). Was this an advertising shot that OUT somehow got ahold of? Where was this place? Japan? America? It’s difficult to tell, but the patrons in the background look Japanese, and MAPLE FARM sounds like a typical pastoral Engrish name to me. (And how classy, “Since 1983”!)

More than just being a brilliant combination of images, however, the very framing of this cover is what makes it work, with the courtyard’s shadows lying mostly behind Minmay, and the sunlight spilling in to her right beneath the cyan waves of her hair. It literally captures–boxes in–a kind of summertime brightness and vibrance, and creates an allure which personally I find hard to resist.

This cover works so well because it successfully sells us an ideal: Minmay’s youth, her beauty, her airy spirit, and a real place in the real world where we could exist ourselves, making this style of life our own. The juxtaposition of ideals and possibilities creates a keyhole for our imaginations, allows us to dream much bigger than we normally would. It tells us that this kind of joy exists in the world, waiting for us, if only we will go out there and pursue it. It gives us license to be carefree.

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