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Prism Power deconstructs the stories of the Sailor Moon anime and manga to bring you summaries, trivia, and more.
Prism Power deconstructs the stories of the Sailor Moon anime and manga to bring you summaries, trivia, and more.
247 backers pledged $9,053 to help bring this project to life.

Making Of: Rei's Ofuda Bookmark

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See this? That's what we want to make.
See this? That's what we want to make.

How an Ofuda Bookmark Gets Made

As many of you probably already know, having "a great idea" is actually only a small part of the success or failure of any project. I'll even be generous and say it's about, oh... 1% of what determines if something is successful.

The rest is in the gritty details, which is exactly what we're here to talk about today.

(c) Teramura Shikou
(c) Teramura Shikou

Where can I get them produced?

So the first question was obviously: where can I get one of these things produced, and what's the best way to achieve the realism I'm looking for?

To be absolutely honest, my initial plan was to locate a supplier that provides ofuda to actual shrines in Japan and see if I can get them to do a print run. After all, it's hard to get much more authentic than that!

Unfortunately, most of the suppliers are rather small businesses that still work over fax (!!!!) and manually vet your order. While I'm not exactly doing anything wrong here, something tells me that a manufacturer of religious items wouldn't appreciate my creativity over asking them to produce a run of ofuda that are literally banishing evil spirits. Darn.

(c) Minna Hanko
(c) Minna Hanko

The second option was to get the proper paper, order a custom stamp with the characters (悪霊退散) on it, and then stamp the papers. Easy, right?

While this would probably work all right, we've got the issue of what characters to put on the stamps (more about that later) and also the problem of the fact that every paper needs to be cut to size and manually stamped.

Even still, the reason why I vetoed this idea was that I didn't think they'd be durable. After all, it's just ink stamped on not-terribly-thick paper, so I don't see it standing up to prolonged use, or for being good for throwing at evil spirits (or Usagi).

(c) PRESS-TALK DIRECT
(c) PRESS-TALK DIRECT

And that's where we came across actual bookmarks. They'll be a little more substantial than normal paper, they'll be printed, and everything will be nice and uniform. I also found several places that use traditional Japanese 和紙 (washi) paper for their bookmarks, which adds that extra authenticity I was looking for.

The exact manufacturer is still to be determined, but at least the base is settled!

If only Rei could just give me a few...
If only Rei could just give me a few...

How do I write them?

This is perhaps the most deceptively difficult question. Once we know how we're going to make it, we just need to slap on some symbols and go, right?

Well, yes and no.

As anyone who has dealt with some inappropriate Comic Sans use can attest to, sometimes how a word is written is just as important as the word itself.

Default Japanese Windows fonts
Default Japanese Windows fonts

While the default Windows fonts weren't exactly... bad, they aren't quite what I was looking for. No, considering that my goal was to do my best to recreate something like what you'd see in the Sailor Moon universe, these weren't going to work.

The next best thing was to find a calligraphy artist to write the kanji characters, digitize them, and use that as our base. But again, I really didn't feel like we'd be hitting that level of "authenticity" here that I was aiming for.

So what do we do?

Sailor Moon-branded 悪霊退散 stickers
Sailor Moon-branded 悪霊退散 stickers

A light at the end of the tunnel

Luckily for us, it turns out that back in the early 90s, there was a run of officially licensed, Sailor Moon-branded ofuda stickers being sold for awhile. While these don't exactly line up with what we see in the series, the anime isn't exactly consistent from episode to episode anyway, so I'm willing to take this as a good base to use.

In the interest of getting the best quality possible, I had these painstakingly recreated as both 300dpi printable graphics, but also as vector files to allow for free resizing without any loss in quality.

The recreated ofuda and a mockup on paper
The recreated ofuda and a mockup on paper

The road forward...

And that, my friends, brings you to where we are now with regard to the ofuda bookmark status. I hope you've found this insight into the working process interesting!

If you have any questions -- or even suggestions on how to make this even better, I'm absolutely open to feedback and would be more than happy to hear from you.

We're entering into our last week of the Kickstarter campaign now, so if you have any friends, family, or even social media followers that you'd be willing to share the Prism Power campaign with, I'd greatly appreciate it! Without all you awesome people, none of this would even be happening in the first place.

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