In the past, Japanese makeup company Shu Uemura collaborated with artists John Tremblay and Ai Yamaguchi to create limited-edition packaging for the company's best-selling cleansing oils. Shu is continuing their tradition of interesting skincare packaging with a Japan-exclusive release in honor of the 25th birthday of their flagship boutique, a collaboration with the producers of the anime anthology Genius Party.
Genius Party was released in July 2007 and consists of 7 short anime films. The bird-man and smiling egg-like characters on the bottle are taken from the opening film and namesake of the anthology, which was directed by Atsuko Fukushima.
I'm glad Shu continued working with visual artists to create unique packaging. I'm always curious to know the motivations behind the artist selection, besides the obvious goal of creating designs meant to sell products on a wide scale. The Genius Party cleansing oil, however, possibly represents a departure from this. Fukushima had this to say about the anthology: "The Genius Party project is completely the opposite of the kind of approach where you first assume to target a certain audience, and then create the content to match."1 Thus, Genius Party wasn't meant to appeal to anyone in particular. This begs the question of how these artists ended up working with with a cosmetics company whose primary interest in the partnership was to sell a skincare product.
There is no tie-in to the product itself or any kind of central theme, as there was with the Tremblay and Yamaguchi designs. Those two artists were commissioned to create illustrations specifically for the cleansing oil, while the Genius Party images were seemingly slapped on rather than being linked in some fashion. What's more, the opening piece supposedly explores the vague theme of the "birth of images"2, and the third segment involves a boy rescuing a frog from something called the "Life-Form Disposal Squad". Neither of these have anything to do with selling a product, so it's unclear as to why the characters from these particular films were chosen. My conclusion is that Shu simply wanted a unique-looking bottle intended for collectors and fans of the premium cleansing oil alike, and decided to work with artists who are on the cutting edge of anime.
1 This quote was taken from an article by Roland Kelts, accessed at http://japanamerica.blogspot.com/2008/04/anime-and-studio-4c.html.
2 "Einsteins of Anime," The Japan Times Online, June 28, 2007. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ff20070628r1.html
3 Author's note: The majority of online information on Genius Party and the Shu bottle is in Japanese, which unfortunately I'm unable to read, and the automated English translations were more or less useless. If I were able to get all of the information I came across in English this post may have been a bit more insightful.