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Straight from the Heart

Gender, Intimacy, and the Cultural Production of Shōjo Manga

Jennifer S. Prough

Publication Year: 2011

Manga is the backbone of Japanese popular culture, influencing everything from television, movies, and video games to novels, art, and theater. Shojo manga (girls’ comics) has been seminal to the genre as a whole and especially formative for Japanese girls’ culture throughout the postwar era. In Straight from the Heart, Jennifer Prough examines the shojo manga industry as a site of cultural storytelling, illuminating the ways that issues of mass media, gender, production, and consumption are involved in the process of creating shojo manga. With their glittery pastel covers and focus on human relationships and romance, shojo manga are thoroughly marked by gender—as indeed are almost all manga titles, magazines, and publishing divisions. Drawing on two years of fieldwork on the production of shojo manga, Prough analyzes shojo manga texts and their magazine contexts to explain their distinctive appeal, probe the gendered dynamics inherent in their creation, and demonstrate the feedback system that links producers and consumers in a continuous cycle of "affective labor." Each chapter focuses on one facet of shojo manga production (stories, format, personnel, industry dynamics), providing engaging insights into this popular medium. Tacking between story development, interactive magazine features, and relationships between male editors and female artists, Prough examines the concrete ways in which shojo manga reflect, refract, and fabricate constructions of gender, consumption, and intimacy. Straight from the Heart thus weaves together issues of production and consumption, human relations, and gender to explain the unique world of shojo manga and to interpret its dramatic cultural and economic success on a national—and increasingly global—scale.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

People to whom I owe debts of gratitude are too numerous to count. First and foremost, thanks to Anne Allison, K

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Chapter One. The Heart of the Matter: Gender, Intimacy, and Consumption in the Production of Shojo Manga

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pp. 1-24

On a sunny afternoon in the spring of 2001, in a conference room on an upper floor of a Tokyo office building, Sōda Naoko and I discussed the ins and outs of editing shōjo manga, from deadline details, to shopping for survey prizes, to brainstorming with artists on a new story.1 Much of the two years that I spent in Tokyo researching the shōjo manga industry...

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Chapter Two. Descent and Alliance in the Shojo Manga Family Tree: A Postwar History

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pp. 25-56

As the two quotes above imply, the publishing industry and the manga industry within it have played a significant role in the shaping of postwar Japan. Indeed, as Shogakukan’s corporate philosophy suggests, the media can shape the way that values are understood, and in Japan manga is a primary form of media. For many of the scholars, editors, and artists I spoke...

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Chapter Three. Raising Readers, Rearing Artists: Fabricating Community in Shojo Manga Magazines

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pp. 57-88

Amid the stacks of manga (both printed and drafts), character goods, and the typical hustle and bustle of the manga office in the late afternoon, Saejima Tomomi and I discussed her experiences as an editor at a shōjo manga magazine. Saejima’s animated description of the magazine she edits highlights...

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Chapter Four. Affective Labor: Gender, Generation, and Consumption in the Production of Shojo Manga

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pp. 89-109

This standard account of the postwar history of manga, culled from countless interviews and conversations, tells the story of the rebirth of an industry and the generation of children who were inspired by it and, in fact, made it what it is today.1 While clearly a view through the rose-colored tint of hindsight, this account nonetheless leads us to think about the relationship...

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Chapter Five. Material Gals: Girls' Sexuality, Girls' Culture, and Shojo Manga

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pp. 110-134

The kogyaru as heroine of Shibuya, depicted in the promotional tagline for “Gals!” above, is telling of the relationship between shōjo manga and the discourses about girls that surfaced in the 1990s. “Gals!” by Fujii Mihona, is a typical millennial shōjo manga that ran in Shueisha’s Ribon magazine from late 1999 through 2003. The antics of the gals (gyaru) Kotobuki...

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Epilogue Shojo Manga at Large

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pp. 135-146

Beginning in 2002 Wired magazine added a column called “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” to their “Play: Culture. Gear. Obsessions.” section, an odd move for a technology guru magazine. The short blurbs in the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” detail the latest trends among Japanese schoolgirls, ranging from emoticons for mobile phones, to black spray paint to cover up bleached hair at school, to the “cool-hunters at GirlsLab” cited above.2...

Appendix A. Magazine List

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pp. 147-148

Appendix B. Manga Division Organizational Chart

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pp. 149-150

Notes

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pp. 151-164

Works Cited

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pp. 165-180

Index

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pp. 181-184


E-ISBN-13: 9780824860578
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824834579

Publication Year: 2011

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Subject Headings

  • Women in the book industries and trade -- Japan -- History -- 20th century.
  • Comic books, strips, etc. -- Japan -- History and criticism.
  • Girls -- Books and reading -- Japan -- History -- 20th century.
  • Girls in popular culture -- Japan -- History -- 20th century.
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