Dr Masafumi Monden3
3University of Western Australia, , Australia
Shōjo (girl) culture has often taken the form of comics and literature, and has conventionally been associated with a dreamy, romantic world and portrayal of adolescent girls and their concerns. Once the readers had passed through adolescence though, adult comics with a focus on women’s careers – and often highly graphic sexual contents – were their main replacement. There is a recent trend, however, in Japanese culture where we find fictional texts with themes almost identical to shōjo fiction, but where the age of the protagonists – shōjo and their romantic interests – has risen from their teens to their 20s and even 30s. What does this tell us? This paper examines this trend through the lens of Mizue Tani’s popular novel series Omoide no toki shūri shimasu (We repair the time of your memories, 2012-16). Tani’s novels offer an affirmative portrayal of women and men who renounce ambitious careers and instead engage in the search for self-hood in other contexts. Does this grow out of concern in contemporary Japan about precarious employment prospects, economic uncertainties and delayed marriages? Can we see Tani’s novel series in the context of the romantic world of shōjo; detached from the “masculine” world of the rational, practical and logical, but at the same time celebrating a sense of liberty, agency, and, consequently, resistance?
Masafumi Monden is a Lecturer in Japanese Studies at The University of Western Australia. He has published widely on Japanese fashion. Currently Masfumi’s research is focused on imaginations of Japanese girlhood and boyhood, and cultural history of fashion, beauty and the body in Japan, with particular interest in the post World War II media and youth culture.