While origami is Japan’s best known paper craft, its less famous relative, kamikiri, has been around since the 19th century. In contrast to the intricate folding techniques of origami, kamikiri, literally “paper cutting,” involves creating an unbroken cutout from a sheet of paper.
Chiba-born artist Akira Nagaya is a kamikiri master, and many of his designs are inspired by centuries-old imagery such as the phoenix, fuujin wind spirits, or the Seven Gods of Fortune. Occasionally, though, Nagaya turns to more modern muses, as with these amazing kamikiri versions of some of anime’s biggest stars.
What’s even more impressive is that for his collection of Japanese animation icons, Nagaya doesn’t use any special, high-grade paper. Instead, he crafts each one from a single Post-it note. Don’t let the modest medium fool you, though, as there’s some serious artistic talent on display here.
For example, as if Dragon Ball hero Goku’s hairdo wasn’t intricate enough, Nagaya also has to cut out all of what would be the non-inked area of the character’s face in order to create his features and expression.
It looks like Nagaya has a bit of a soft spot for the works of manga artist Akira Toriyama, who created not only Dragon Ball but also Dr. Slump, whose star, Arale can be seen here with her animal/alien/angel companion, Gatchan.
Toriyama isn’t the only legend Nagaya had artistically paid his respects to, as he’s also recreated cast members of three Hayao Miyazaki films.
▼ Pazu, Sheeta, and the robot from Castle in the Sky Laputa
▼ Somehow, Nausicaa being rendered as just a silhouette, with the giant Ohm behind her, makes this scene feel even more melancholy than the film’s full-color poster it’s based on.
Nagaya also takes time to give a tip of his hat to the famed comic artist who helped create the industries in which Toriyama and Miyazaki found so much success, “God of Manga” and Astro Boy creator Osamu Tezuka.
▼ More old-school goodness with beloved children’s character (and subpar cream-based snack) Doraemon
Far less mild-mannered than anime’s most famous robot cat is Raoh, the megalomaniacal martial artist from Fist of the North Star who we’re trying to set up with One Piece’s pirate babe, Nami.
Raoh is often shown to be nigh-indestructible, but we still say he’d have a tough time going toe-to-toe with Ultraman (at least for the first three minutes of their fight).
Given the wide range of titles Nagaya pulled his roster from, we’re a little surprised not to see anyone from supernatural sword fighting saga Bleach, especially since One Piece and Naruto, the other two members of manga’s current triumvirate of boys’ action series, are both represented.
Whew, all this hopping back between characters who look cute and characters that can handle themselves in a fight is wearing us out. Mr. Nagaya, to close us out, can you make a piece of kamikiri art that combines both of those traits by being combat-ready and adorable at the same time?
Thanks, we knew you could!