What Shōjo Did Next: Japanese Women’s Fiction in the 21st Century

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.


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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