Girls’ Aesthetics in Japanese Theatre – Nobuko Anan

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Japanese girls’ culture evokes various images, from kawaii Hello Kitty and fighting girls in anime to female students involved in the sex business. While these are all parts of a vibrant Japanese girls’ culture, in this talk, I will focus on a particular group of girls and adult women, who embody what I call “girls’ aesthetics.”

Girls’ aesthetics have their genesis in early twentieth-century Japan with the creation of Western-style girls’ schools and magazines for girls. These physical places and objects created a space where girls could escape from societal pressures within Japan’s growing empire. In this space, girls rejected state-sanctioned motherhood and wife-hood and instead fantasised same-sex intimacy, longed for the West and romanticised death as a means to reject adulthood. These aesthetics continue into the contemporary period, influencing various artistic genres, such as Rococo/Victorian-inspired Gothic-Lolita fashion and boys’ love manga.

In this talk, I will explore girls’ aesthetics in contemporary Japanese theatre through a discussion of the Takarazuka Revue, an all-female musical company which stages Western romances, and Yubiwa Hotel, whose adult members perform Barbie-doll-like girls fetishising death.

Date: Monday 18 April 2016, 6.45pm
Venue: The Swedenborg Society, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH

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