Nagi Noda, (1973-2008) was an artist whose career I used to watch. Unfortunately I didn’t find out about her death until a couple of months ago, as she’s not particularly well known outside of Japan and the music video industry. She was best known for directing music videos for popular J-pop artists like Yuki, Tiga, and Ogiyihagi, as well as doing design work for Laforet, Nike, Hikaru Utada, Suntory, etc.

Her works had a sort of dark humor to them that often referenced their commercial nature by taking it to its extreme. The best example of this is probably a short film she made in 2003 called “Francfranc: a Small Love Story About Alex and Juliet” (Francfranc is a small Japanese chain selling stylish home goods). Rather than a romance between two people, the lovers are the commercial objects themselves: two bug-eyed mugs in a holiday-decorated store wonderland. Even the actors are bizzarely beautifully dressed runway model types. You can see it here:

Another of my Nagi Noda favorites is Yuki’s “Sentimental Journey” video. It’s a physical stop-motion scene involving hundreds of actresses, and shot completely in one take. Coca Cola liked the idea so much that they had her recreate it for them as well. It is somewhat reminiscent of the strange, playful charm of Michel Gondry (think of his video “Sugar Water” for Cibo Matto), with whom she was friends. Here’s the video:

Her other notable works include the well known “Poodle Exercise” video, in which an “ex-fat-girl” speaks motivationally in a fitness video with human sized poodles, the “Horror Cafe” exhibition, with a supporting cast of coffin-clad people, her “hair hats,” hats made of hair shaped into animals and other bizzare shapes, a fashion line she collaborated on with Mark Ryden called “Broken Label,” and the popular Han Panda character.

Sadly she died in September of 2008 from injuries sustained in a car accident. According to the agency through which she worked, she passed away “in her Mark Ryden dress, Chanel boots, perfect make-up with Viktor & Rolf lace black eye lashes.” In a strange coincidence, her Han Panda exhibit takes on a fitting tribute to her death:

See more of Nagi Noda’s work …
Official Website
Poodle Fitness Video,
Monoprix Vegetables, Monoprix Jungle, Monoprix Mascara
Broken Label
Excerpt from Women of Design, Women of Design
Meg’s Precious Video
Giant Han Panda Exhibit
LG The Power of Steam
Interview- starting 7:00