I've been drawing a lot of Amabies lately. I've been meaning to post them all in one big post but I just realized that would take forever and I need to be updating this site as much as possible. So let's see what I've drawn thus far. But first, what's an Amabie?
Amabie is one of a handful of yokai that are said to ward off pandemics just by showing people her picture. She's(?) said to have appeared in 1846 in present day Kumamoto prefecture. A government official was sent to investigate a mysterious glowing light in the ocean that had been reported for the previous few nights. When the official approached the light, out popped Amabie. After introducing herself, she foretold of a six-year bountiful harvest and said that if a there should be an outbreak of disease (since cholera was a big problem at the time) showing her picture would be enough to cure anyone. She then jumped back into the ocean and was never seen again. After that, her story and her picture were printed in papers and distributed to the people.
This was the only story of the Amabie in folklore and until recently she's been one of the more obscure yokai. She's probably appeared in games and such but the only appearance of her I know of is the 2007 Gegege no Kitaro anime where she was a tertiary character. I haven't even seen her in the background of anything.
But then came the Corona virus and someone on Japanese Twitter got the idea of drawing her as a charm against the pandemic. The idea caught on and now suddenly she's everywhere in Japan. And it's not just on the internet. She's been on TV, in shrines, bakeries have made confections shaped like her, and even Japan's Ministry of Health and Labor has used her as a PSA!
You can learn more about her in this video by Gaijin Goombah that mentions my yokai twitter!
Obviously, looking at pictures isn't going to protect you from a virus but when the world's falling apart around you and the only thing you can do to help is to paradoxically do nothing it's easy to feel helpless. So drawing Amabie is a nice way to at least pretend you can help while putting your energy into doing something creative. And it's something positive to- more or less- take your mind off things. And when you share it online you can cheer people up with a fun piece of art and hopefully a few of those people will draw their own Amabies to cheer up their friends etc and so on. And since staying positive and having a laugh has been proven to have a positive effect on your health, maybe it can at least give a boost to your immune system.
I really want this meme to catch on in America. Things are so bad right now and people are beginning to break. I know the idea of a monster that can prevent disease is a difficult idea for most Americans to get their heads around but I think just playing along with the idea is a fun game that I really think can benefit people.
I've actually started a tumblr just for posting other people's Amabies to inspire more people to draw her. It's called 1000Amabies. The name is a reference to the tradition of folding 1000 paper cranes to grant a wish. That wish being an end to the pandemic and for the well being of all the people who are suffering in isolation.
Here's what I've drawn thus far.
First amabie I posted since the beginning of the pandemic. That's the Japanese hashtag written at the top. The wave patten is based on the waves in the original image of amabie.
I added the URL for 1000Amabies to my drawings because the description of it explains what the Amabie trend is and hopefully seeing people's Amabies inspires more people to draw their own. Like I said, I really want this to catch on.
This amabie originally looked like this...
...and I really liked it. But as I was cleaning it up I kept seeing ways I could improve it or experiment with until it turned into what it is now. And now I'm not sure if I like it as much. :\
I was pleased with how cute this design turned out but was but I was unhappy with the dull presentation. So I threw it into Photoshop and...
...I remembered how much I frickin' love using clipping masks and blending modes in Photoshop.
And finally my most recently finished Amabie
Added my yokai Twitter handle because it's linked to my Amabie Tumblr.
I have a birthday tradition of ordering a cake with one of my drawings on it. Usually something that's had some significance to me within the previous year. So it seemed pretty natural to have an Amabie cake.
This was the one design I had that I was satisfied enough with to put on a cake but it was still a little uneven on one side so I fixed it for the final version in addition to adding the back ground.
So that's all the Amabies I've finished recently but I still have more that I'm still working on. (You can see the WIPs of them on my Patreon) I'm thinking I might make a digital zine when I have enough.