Just a few weeks ago, Netflix released volume one of the fourth season of Stranger Things, a show that stole viewers’ hearts when its first season aired in 2016. Over the last six years, the show has followed a wide range of characters in their endless battle with, it turns out, a singular powerful evil puppet master that refuses to stop haunting their hometown of Hawkins, Indiana. Throughout the series, one of the show’s most popular characters has been Jim Hopper, the small town’s Police Sheriff whose broken personal life was put on hold to assist school children and their families to fight off the evil creatures that cursed their town. But now he’s definitely a part of the team. This week’s Pick of the Week is the Yusuke Hanai Stranger Things “Coffee and Contemplation” Jim Hopper Sculpture & Print Set that highlights this unique character.
The Yusuke Hanai Stranger Things “Coffee and Contemplation” Jim Hopper Sculpture & Print Set was released as a part of an official collaboration between the artist and the Netflix series just a few days before season 4’s debut. Limited to just 100 available pieces, the sculpture and print set portray the Hawkins Sheriff likely contemplating the deluge of demons, curses, and government conspiracies that he’s frequently embroiled in. Fans of the show looking to get their hands on this highly limited collector’s piece can expect to pay a pretty penny, as the set was offered exclusively to Hanai NFT holders and is currently listed on StockX for over $15,000. Additionally, the sculpture is relatively large, coming in at over three feet tall while the print is around 24 inches by 12 inches.
Yusuke Hanai’s Stranger Things “Coffee and Contemplation” Jim Hopper Sculpture & Print Set fits well into the Japanese artist’s existing catalog. DOWN BUT NOT OUT, one of Hanai’s most popular figures, features a man in a chair with an exhausted pose and a sour look on his face and is meant as a reflection of the collective cynicism that can come with and from failure. In a statement about the DOWN BUT NOT OUT figure, Hanai explains that, as an artist, he’s actually “realistic but optimistic” and tells of how this figure exemplifies that. “Failures, unpleasant experiences, loss of precious treasures, the global pandemic… There are many hardships that we all have to go through in life. Yet life must go on. Take a break, then get up and move forward.” Hanai’s figures often feature characters with gloomy, defeated looks on their faces, which puts his recent Jim Hopper figure, in all his contemplativeness, in good company.
Jim Hopper’s character in Stranger Things, especially in season 4, captures some of the show’s largest themes. The sheriff is a single divorced man in his early 40s who lives in the woods and may have a potential alcohol and drug problem. Near the end of season 1, it’s revealed that Hopper lost a daughter to illness which was shortly followed by his divorce. He starts a damaged man who papers over the struggles of his past with substances and work, pulled forward only by his relationships with Eleven and Joyce, two other main characters.
Season 4 of Stranger Things gives viewers a look at the damage that the trauma of one person (in this case, Eleven) can collectively cause in a community for multiple generations. It looks at how the trauma of one single person, felt by a community in a destructive way, begins to twist the trauma of others in a way that creates separation and turns them into “freaks.” This, of course, leads to a further perpetuation of that, a cycle of isolated depression turned to tragedy, over and over again. Even as he attempts to save the world over and over again, Jim Hopper’s character, like so many others in season 4, finds himself battling these familiar conflicts and becomes a personification of that cycle. At one point in Stranger Things season 4, blaming himself for the destruction in his own life, Jim Hopper rationalizes his certain death by saying, “I used to think I was cursed. Now I realize I am the curse.”
A statement like that, wrapped up in the story of Jim Hopper, is what makes the character such a natural addition to Yusuke Hanai’s catalog. The Hawkins Sheriff fits in because Jim Hopper’s story is the same story that Yusuke Hanai is telling, a story of failure and loss that’s dealt with honestly. In the same statement about his DOWN BUT NOT OUT piece, Hanai said this, “Our countless silly mistakes and repeated failures drive us away from the brilliant life path we imagined for ourselves when we were still kids. However upsetting, whenever I hang out with my friends over a drink, teasing each other about our respective failures, our shared laughter gives us renewed energy for the next day.” This message squares with the outcome of Hopper’s story in Stranger Things. He is a man who at his darkest is drowning in his demons, consistently saved by his friends, always pulled from the darkness and despair by those who care for him. But, at his best, he does the same for those around him. He shows the despair, but also shows the bounce back. It is this throughline that makes Hanai’s work relatable to so many of his fans. Just like Stranger Things, Hanai’s work is about us.
Buy & Sell the Yusuke Hanai Stranger Things “Coffee and Contemplation” Jim Hopper Sculpture & Print Set on StockX below.