Wrestling, special effects, kung fu… The world of “Hardcore Chocolate,” a print T that attracts more than just the deepest fans | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Wrestling, special effects, kung fu… The world of “Hardcore Chocolate,” a print T that attracts more than just the deepest fans

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Hardcore Chocolate, the “bad boy of the T-shirt world.

Hardcore Chocolate. The brand name and its distinctive designs have probably been mentioned by many of you. Many of you may have come across the brand name and its distinctive designs.

Horror, kung-fu, and chivalry movies. Special effects such as Ultraman, Masked Rider, and Super Sentai series. Wrestling legends such as Antonio Inoki, Shinya Hashimoto, and Andre the Giant. Timeless classic comics such as Fujiko Fujio A, “Ashita no Joe” and “Fist of the North Star. In addition, popular comedians such as All Hanshin/Giants, Obon/Kobon, Egashira 2:50, and Nishikigoi are also available at …….

The company started as an online store in 1999, opened a store in Shimokitazawa, and later moved to its current location in Higashi-Nakano (it also has a store in Sennichimae, Osaka), and has released over 2,000 fashion items to date, including not only T-shirts but also hoodies, caps, and outerwear.

(From top left) Egashira 2:50, Battles without Honor and Humanity, Kamen Rider BLACK, Antonio Inoki, Laughing Man, Ashita no Joe ……They offer a wide variety of genres, but their designs are instantly recognizable as “core chocolate! Some of them are discontinued.
Mr. MUNE is the representative and designer of “Hardcore Chocolate. He says that his face-to-face sales started by bringing his products to flea markets.

In a sense, the genres of their designs are disparate. However, when the designs are filtered through the filter of “Koa Chocolate,” they transcend the artworks and characters and radiate a unique individuality that is instantly recognizable as “Koa Chocolate.

The images used for the T-shirt designs are basically in black and white, and in the case of live-action works, the images have a slightly rough, copy-like taste. Many designs are based on a logo that matches the image of the motif, or a brand logo overlaid on the image. Some designs are a detailed collage of the work’s subtitle or slogan. It sometimes gives the impression of a flyer for a punk band at a live music club.

The work is a kind of advertisement for the punk magazines “DOLL” and “FOOL’S MATE” that I used to read when I was a teenager, or a flyer for a live music club. They were black-and-white, with some typed, some cut-and-pasted, some handwritten, and some handwritten. I was shocked and influenced by designs that crammed a lot of information into a small space. I actually wanted to do something like that with T-shirts and apparel.

We asked Mr. MUNE, the representative and designer of Hardcore Chocolate, to explain the origin of his design.

The Battle Against “Plainness

The commitment to black-and-white images is in addition to the flyer images mentioned above,

I don’t think it’s cool to present (images) in full color,” he says.

He also says, “I don’t think it’s cool to use full-color images. One obvious example is the Super Sentai series, one of Core Chocolate’s popular lineups. Needless to say, the colorful coloring of the heroes, from red and blue to pink and black, is the most distinctive feature of the series.

The popular “Kagaku Sentai Dinaman (Grand Slam Black)” from the Super Sentai series, with its impressive technique of expressing the heroes’ colors in a vivid five-color gradation * Discontinued

I feel that if you do that kind of thing in full color, it instantly becomes something for elementary school children and preschoolers (laughs). (Laughs) I wanted to make something that would be cool for adults to wear. We decided to use as little color as possible for the characters, and instead use colors that evoke the image of the characters in the logo and body colors.

That there are many pieces with chaotic designs,

“In some ways, it’s like I’m in a constant battle with solid colors,”

He laughs, “It’s like I’m in a constant battle with plain colors.

The less print on a T-shirt, the more fashionable it looks. The less print on a T-shirt, the more fashionable it looks. If anything, plain is the most fashionable (laughs). If that’s the case, then let’s do the complete opposite, covering the entire front, back, and sleeves of some items, filling in everything we can.

In a lineup of over 2,000 items, the T-shirt for the horror movie “Hostel 2,” released in 2007, was the one that he felt established the design style within himself. At the time, it was sold as a set with theater tickets.

HOSTEL2 A (Lawrence German Screaming),” a collaboration with the horror film directed by Eli Roth and produced by Quentin Tarantino, which Mr. MUNE felt he was able to establish a design that would lead to the present day * Limited production product

The work was a collaboration between Quentin Tarantino and director Eli Roth. “I tried to fill in the space, balance the images and text, and even included Japanese in the dialogue, but when it was finished, I knew I had found the right one.

Naturally, he said, “There are many works that I am very satisfied with (laughs),” but he also mentioned the red-letter version of “Fear Newspaper. The front is simple, with only the title logo of the work. On the back, the main character, Rei Onigata, with a look of terror on her face, and the subtitles for each episode are placed in a frighteningly tight pattern.

This was quite difficult (laughs). We didn’t have any data material for the subtitles, so we had to repeat the process of scanning, digitizing, and fitting them in one by one. It was hard work, but that was the fun part. It also became the basis for the design that I would later use to lay out a lot of subtitles and headlines in this direction.

Back print of “Champion Red – Reprint Edition. The back print of the “Fear Newspaper (Champion Red) – Reprint Edition” is a scan of the titles of all episodes, including “The Curse of the Pharaohs” and “The Monster of the Mountain Hut,” and is finished with a particular arrangement of the titles laid in thick and thin. A labor of love that will shorten your life span by 100 days if you wear it. Discontinued

Born in Sumida-ku, Tokyo. Born and raised in downtown Tokyo.

I think I was in a group that stood out or was interesting all the way through high school. I was good at telling people what was coolest and funniest at the moment, and I think that may have led me to where I am today.

The foundation of Hardcore Chocolate has always been the indie punk spirit that greatly influenced Mr. MUNE during his adolescence. The core of the company, including design, selection of design collaborations, and selection of images, has been handled by Mr. MUNE alone since its inception. While he makes full use of Photoshop and other software, he sometimes uses handwritten letters written with sumi ink and a brush.

He says, “I sometimes get surprised at how analogue my work is (laughs).

Selection of motifs

The choice of works is also centered on what Mr. MUNE likes. In a sense, this is the ultimate personal brand.

There are maniacal and cult-like items that were made into T-shirts for the first time.

I enjoy designing things that have never been made into T-shirts before, and I think that preserving them as T-shirts is what makes my life worth living, or what I have to do.

On the other hand, as the brand’s popularity and name recognition have increased in recent years, requests for collaboration on so-called “major” projects and genres that are not in MUNE’s repertoire have been on the rise. Does the increase in major motifs pose any conflict with the brand image? When we ask him that,

We have no intention from the beginning to do something maniacal! I have never had the intention to do something maniacal from the very beginning.

I’ve never had the intention to do something maniacal,” MUNE said.

Basically, I just do what I like and what I think is interesting, and many of those things happen to be considered maniacal.

I’ve done major works by Osamu Tezuka and others, and even Ultraman and Kamen Rider are very major series. That’s why I didn’t feel that I was being called a maniac or a maniac. Of course, if we feel that something major is interesting, we will do it.

We are a company, so we have to think about selling a lot. We are a company, so there is a part of us that has to think about selling a lot of products. Even if we do something that is considered major, as long as we can express Core Choco’s color, I don’t think it will be “just major.

Collaborations between Koa Chocolate and Osamu Tezuka’s works, such as “The Bird of Fire,” “Astro Boy,” “Buddha,” and “Unico,” have been very popular and numerous. This is “Black Jack/Living Life (Unlicensed Black)” 4,400 yen (tax included)

The Ultra Monster Series currently boasts a lineup of over 100 varieties. Normally, the series would start with the most popular monsters such as Baltan Alien, Pygmy Monster, and Eleking, but the series was topped by Black Command and Black End, which appeared at the end of “Ultraman Leo.

But it was the Black Command and Black End, which appeared at the end of “Ultraman Leo,” that topped the series. By starting at the end of the series, I said, “I’m going to put them all out there, and I’m going to make this a series that makes the monsters complete. I didn’t want to start with the major monsters that would sell well but were popular, and then taper off and end up halfway through the series. We tried to match the timing of the major monsters that would be the decisive factor, and the timing of their reappearance in the latest TV series that has recently been airing. We are very conscious in our handling.

The Ultra Monster Series has become a major series with more than 100 varieties to date. The latest in the series is the “Pandemon (Two-headed Red),” whose bright red body color is so striking that it made Seven suffer in the final episode of “Ultra Seven” for 4,400 yen (tax included).

One of Core Choco’s strengths is that many of its products are highly collectible due to the large number of items that serve as motifs.

In the case of Ultra Monsters, it’s like the old “World Stamp Book” (a randomly generated card that was pasted into a separately sold book to complete a monster book, which was a big hit in the mid-Showa period) or Ultra Monster Eraser, where you could accumulate both popular and minor monsters and then fill up the book with them. There’s a sense of pleasure, that kind of image.

Wrestling products have their own unique points of interest that fans enjoy, he says.

The standard that wrestling fans look for is a match. The most important thing is to know when the match was and with whom. So the best thing to do is to take that into account and reflect it.”

BAR Valentine

The location for this interview is “BAR Valentine” run by Hardcore Chocolate. Located not far from the store, Mr. MUNE is also its master. After finishing his work during the day, he comes to the counter from 8:00 p.m. on business days and enjoys interacting with the regular customers.

The regulars at BAR VALENTINE include people in the media and movie industry, actors, artists, comedians, office workers, freelancers, and many other types of people who are all drunk at the counter and talk about a variety of topics day after day, night after night. The man behind the counter, Mr. MUNE, is the one who deals with these topics one after another.

Mr. MUNE stands at the counter at night at BAR Valentine, which is owned by Koa Choco. I’ve mentioned this several times before, but I wanted to start a bar before a T-shirt shop,” he says. It’s like doing core chocolate for Valentine’s Day (laughs).”

It’s fun to see artists who perform at the Budokan and freelancers and cult comedians sitting next to each other and talking about stupid topics. It’s intense. It’s not about major artists and minor artists, but I’m very happy that we have a place where we can interact and have fun without any barriers.

The topics of conversation and the vibe at Valentine’s Day sometimes lead to unexpected design hints.

Valentine’s, such an important place, is scheduled to be vacated by the beginning of next year due to the demolition of the building in accordance with earthquake resistance standards. This is said to be the biggest pinch in Koa Chocolate’s life, but the company seems to have a good idea of where to move.

I’ve always had a lot of luck,” he says, “but for some strange reason, everything is going in the right direction, so I think I’ll be fine. Moving itself is a bit of a hassle (laughs).

Madonna, did you have hemorrhoids? The “Shocking Photo Kappa Discovered,” “Egawa, Hara Join Foes,” ……MUNE has designed a special combination of the many headlines that “Tōspo” has sent out into the world! Tokyo Sports x HARDCC (skip oatmeal color)” * Discontinued

A few years ago, we collaborated with TOSPO to produce a series of headlines such as “Presley Alive?” Madonna had hemorrhoids?” and “Human Fishes Critically Disfigured,” and other famous headlines from the past were collaged together to attract public attention.

Mr. MUNE, is it possible to collaborate with FRIDAY?

I totally agree. I would welcome it! But with FRIDAY, I’d be tempted to make a photo of a secret meeting scoop or something like that. …… Is that too demanding (laughs)?

Click here for the Hardcore Chocolate website.

  • Composition Satoru Ota

    Writer, editor, interviewer. He has been a writer since he was a student, and currently writes mainly entertainment articles and interviews for websites and magazines.

  • Photography Ishizawa Yosisa

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