Girls’ Aesthetics in Japanese Theatre – Nobuko Anan


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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