A Shower of Cats: Reading Tansy Rayner Robert’s Creature Court Series as a Shōjo Text

Dr Emerald King1

1La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia

Studies in Japanese shōjo culture often begin with a litany of hallmarks: a romanticised European setting, a trio of young girl protagonists, detailed descriptions of clothing and costumes, and a collection of brand related goods and objects. Under the umbrella of shōjo literature, anime, and manga are a number of genres including fantasy, magical realism, science fiction and romance. While western critical theory as well as Japanese scholars and critics are often used to critique shōjo literature, anime and manga, the reverse is rarely true. In this paper I will use the work of Japanese scholars to examine the work of Australian author Tansy Rayner Roberts with particular emphasis on her 2010-2012 Creature Court Series.

Creature Court centres around a trio of young women who travel to the capital of an imagined Italy to pursue careers in the fashion industry. Against this background, it is revealed that there is a hidden war being fought between the members of the mysterious creature court and a destructive sky magic. By using the work of scholars such as Honda Masuko, Takahara Eiri, Yagawa Sumiko, Tomoko Aoyama, and Fusami Ogi this paper will show how Australian fantasy can be read as a shōjo or magical girl text.


Emerald L King is a Lecturer in Japanese at La Trobe University, Australia. Her research is divided between women in Japanese literature and reading costumes as text. She is also interested in popular culture, in particular shōjo or girl culture including anime, manga and cosplay.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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