Moonbow (Gekko) Vol 1 – Zine Review

As a blog writer, I’m kind of obsessed with writing about j-fashion, lolita fashion in particular. I’m always on the hunt for new books, magazines, and zines about lolita. So when Gekko (translated “Moonbow” in the magazine) zine popped up on my Instagram, I was intrigued! They were advertising the creation a Japanese zine but they were reaching out specifically for content from the English speaking community. I was delighted to see them pop again, this time on the store front of Flores Astorum, the English speaking store front for a collection of Japanese indie designers. Obviously, I had to grab a digital copy.

Gekko Vol. 1 – Digital issue

Gekko is a Japanese lolita fashion zine featuring the original art from artist of Iseya. The digital version is a 62 page PDF. It is available for purchase through Flores Astorum for $10, plus a $.99 handling fee.

It’s probably good to note that your issue will be emailed to you manually. So while you’ll get an email confirming your purchase immediately, it may take a little bit to receive the zine itself. I ordered mine on April 18 and received it on April 21, for reference.

Inside Scoop

Moonbow is a charming throw back to old school lolita magazines. It features 3 interviews with different lolitas, an overview of lolita substyles, tips on organizing your lolita closet, traditional Japanese hairstyles to try in lolita fashion, suggested music for different substyles, and much more.

This zine is most notable for its extensive original illustrations by artist Iseya. There are dozens of original comics, so of which are multiple pages. Some of them tell short stories and some are silly gags. The most impressive art is a series of 10 illustrations highlighting different substyles which are wonderful. The comics are mostly in black and white and reminded me so much of the short comics that mangakas would include about their life in the back of their books. It truly felt like sitting around after school, giggling with your friends about inside jokes.

I also loved that there was a “lolita research lab” featuring some statistics about the prevalence of certain colors in “old school” using old GLBs. Hmmm…wonder why this particular pieces resonated with me…guess we’ll never know.

To be clear, this zine isn’t perfect. It is in English, but there are some jokes and sentences that get lost in translation. The final comic is also a joke about dieting that doesn’t really land, and seems like it won’t vibe with much of the Western community. Despite that Moonbeam feels like an earnest attempt to include parts of the lolita community aren’t always in one place. Its not often that you see an interview with a Chinese lolita about social media within pages of original illustrations of traditional Japanese hairstyles to try! Moonbow felt like an attempt to get a cross section of all kinds of elements of the lolita community. I think this attempt succeeded, rather than feeling unfocused or disorganized.

What lies ahead

Flores Astorum has also announced that they will be helping edit the next issue of the zine in English, so probably some of the (truly delightful) translation errors will be reduced next time.

Moonbow’s Twitter and Instagram announced that print copies will be available May 15, 2022, but printing will be extremely limited. They’re also planning a second issue to be released in October 2022. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for volume 2!

You can find Moonbow on Instagram and Twitter. You can find their English version of the zine at Flores Astorum and the Japanese version at Booth. Moonbow also put out a call for stories about height in lolita, some of which will be illustrated by their house artist Iseya.

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