Back in the "Print Club"

For months, I’ve been on and off trying the latest “Print Club” machine. “Print Club” (we usually call it “Purikura”) is a photo booth you can find it in the most of arcade in Japan. It IS a photo booth, but it’s not a kind that you can find in station. This machine allows you to do so many things…

Before I introduce what this latest machine does to you, let me tell you some background of this machine. The very first version of Print Club was released in 1995, and it became a big thing in Japan around 1997. Mostly among girls. I remember this very clearly because I was highschool student during this boom period. I went to girls’ school, and each of us had her own “Purikura-album”. Our morning conversation often started with “did you take Purikura yesterday?” and exchanged them daily, and spent so many hours checking each other’s album.
My Purikura-Album from highschool days. Blurry due to the privacy reasons :D
I wasn’t avid collector but I have one photo album dedicated to Print Club..

Back then, what we could do with Print Club was to choose photo frame and take a digital photo of us in that frame. Not sure why it was so exciting, but we were all crazy about it. We took this Purikura-album everywhere, and when we meet some friends from other school (especially from boys’ school) we did the same thing and expanded the album. And if we find someone nice in the album, we passed our beeper (!!) number to become “beeper friends”. Unfortunately I wasn’t in those “beeper network” but I know there were many girls who made friends/boyfriends via Purikura-album. hmm… come to think of it, this might be our version of Facebook…

However by the time I left highschool, Print Club craze seemed ended. I remember there were some ‘newer machine’ with drawing feature but we didn’t bother that much… probably because we were moving into cell phone boom…

And then, after all these years, I’ve heard that “Latest Print Club is so crazy!!” from someone. I didn’t hear what was so crazy about it, and I’ve been wondering why it gets popular again now; we now have smartphone camera to re-create that type of photo (frames and drawings..) So to finish wondering, I gave it a try.

Girls are lining up!

Here’s how latest Print Club looks like. There’s “photo booth” zone and “drawing zone” in one machine. Once you took photos in a booth, you move to drawing zone to edit your photo.

Here’s the inside of photo booth… it got big space with so many lightings! And loud dance music to put you in the mood.. and just like fashion mag photo shoot, the camera says "Move around!", “Do princess face!” or “Do sweet devil face!” (LOL)

I was overwhelmed but I did what I can :D And what I saw in the photo booth was… a photo which looks like me but it wasn’t me!! The color of my hair, eyes and skin are different, the shape of my face is different, and I have super bigger eyes… As if they photoshop-ed me hard to look like CG character… But what freaks me out more was that there were “Add” feature on drawing zone. You can make your eyes even bigger…

It’s not so fun if you don’t know the person well though.
To me it’s Bwahahaha!

So this is what’s happening: latest Print Club has “Serious touch-up” feature. It looks like they have their own definition of “cute girl” and turn us into that ‘cute girl equation’. These photos won’t work as your profile photo, because you aren’t you in it...

Just like my highschool time, this machine is really popular among girls right now. Arcade’s Print Club section is flooded with highschool girls, and they do the same thing as we did: exchange it with friends and collect on their photo album… Again, I’m not sure why it’s so popular, but I felt really strange when I first see those photo (and laughed it so much). Maybe it’s because of vanity, maybe because we enjoy discovering new side… I don’t know.. but this definitely make you feel weird and something more… There are some “mild touch-up” machine, but girls tend to enjoy “extreme makeover” version. Hmm…. (Here, they compare the machine "add-up" feature... wow)

Wanna join this club? :D

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