Over the weekend, several people noticed something on Twitter and forwarded it my way, mostly because I’ve spent much of my recent career in a shameless attempt to convey to the world that I, for reasons that defy all logic and reason, really like vehicular taillights. While the life of a taillight fetishist can seem lonely, I’m learning it’s actually not, as proven through the industrial-grade charm of a Japanese comic about a woman riding her folding bike around Japan. The specific panels in question here deliver a deliriously detailed guide to Kei-truck taillights.
From what I can tell via a clumsy machine-translation, the artist is Saeko Hoshii, who seems to have an incredible eye for detail and a real respect for the ordinary, mundane parts of life that, collectively, make the world so interesting.
Here’s a non-taillight example I found on her site:
Look at the effort spent categorizing pens! Amazing.
Of course, what I love even more was what was in the Tweet that was sent to me:
An exhaustive, incredibly focused and careful taxonomy of the taillights of Kei trucks.
What makes this so glorious is that these trucks all have, generally, quite similar taillights. The fairly severe Kei-class requirements means that Kei truck evolution resulted in a lot of convergent evolution, with all the makes of the many, many little Kei-trucks tirelessly doing Japan’s hauling work being fairly similar in size an shape and design.
The same goes for the taillights, which are pretty much exclusively rectangular in shape and mounted below the bed area. So it’s not like we’re talking about a lot of wild variation in design here—if you want to become an expert in Kei truck taillights, you’re going to have to really focus in on some incredibly granular and subtle details.
This is expert-level taillight identifying. She’s not screwing around, here.
Here, look at her beautifully-illustrated chart:
From what I gathered from my poor translations, I think the one on the left is for more common taillights, and the right one is for the “somewhat unusual types.”
Look how carefully these taillights are rendered! Where most people would just glance and see indistinguishable blocks of red, amber, and clear, Saeko notes the varying profiles of the lights, the rounded edges or bevels, the locations of the screws, the presence of framing bezels, everything, everything, everything.
Saeko’s illustration skills are top-notch, too, as I know from experience that conveying a taillight’s semi-transparent plastic, glossy and flat on the outer surface but textured on the inside surface, isn’t easy, and she pulls it off beautifully.
It looks like she has a whole book out titled “I Started to Fold My Bicycle” and I think it’s a collection of her cartoons about biking all over Japan. It looks great and I’m going to say you should order one, even if you can’t read Japanese. If this taillight chart is in there, I sure as hell will order one.
I’m delighted to see automotive taillight fetishism in such an unexpected and delightful place, and hopefully all my fellow followers of the scarlet light will agree.