Debuting in 2010, Amamiya released an image DVD, which featured her in various provocative poses, wearing said anime mask. The video was not a hit, and Amamiya fell off the map. Let's be honest: her get-up is slightly unsettling.
Late last month, she resurfaced, mask in tow, and will be appearing in the stage production of Japanese soccer cell phone game Venus Fantasista. After the news of her resurfacing hit, a slew of her photos popped up on English language websites and forums. People used the opportunity to say, "Oh Japan is so weird!"
Japanese forums then translated some of these online comments, highlighting that foreigners think Japanese people are odd and then made a series of wry, ironic comments about the whole thing. See, Japanese people think Anna Amamiya is bizarre, too! That's the point.
"No, Japanese people can't comprehend this, either," wrote one net user.
"Well, this is amusing," wrote another. "But if you are getting a boner you're sick."
"The fusion of 2D and 3D," quipped yet another.
There is an explanation: Japanese photographer and magazine editor Yasumasa Yonehara once told me that much of the outrageous nature of fashion (he was specifically talking about schoolgirl fashion) is based in Japanese "yanki" culture—in which you have people just trying to top each other. I think there is some of that all throughout Japanese culture, especially geek culture.
For example, some nerds have Christmas Eve dinners for video game characters as a gag—and people just keep trying to outdo each other with more elaborate dinners. Everything escalates. When foreigners see this, they often miss the joke, thinking that Japanese people are super serious and unable to be silly. Untrue! Often what is on display is just how extreme someone can be—that's the show and that's the gag.
Anna Amamiya is not a mainstream idol by any stretch. She's not a household name. And she's not entirely serious; her whole shtick is goofy—something that she seems to be aware of by uploading photos on her blog of her mask, hung on a hat rack.
She also seems to be a byproduct of this escalation that exists in Japanese geek culture. Before Amamiya debuted in late 2010, there was another anime-faced model named Imao. On her blog, Imao digitally added an anime face, and that November, she even released a DVD.
In the DVD, she posed in a bikini with a paper anime face, which looked rather cheap. Amamiya, who released her DVD that December, had a proper anime girl mask—the kind male cosplayers often wear when dressing as anime girls. Amamiya appeared to take that 2D-meets-3D woman motif and tried to outdo her competitor. And now, years later, she's taking her act to the Tokyo stage.
雨宮あんな [Official Site NSFW]