The novel Manji (Quicksand, 1931) by Tanizaki Jun'ichirō, about a destructive love affair between two women, has been analyzed extensively for its use of Kansai dialect and its complex narrative style. This article argues for a new interpretation of Manji as a parody of 1920s girls' culture (shōjo bunka), in particular the S relationship (S kankei) or romantic friendship between two girls. Tanizaki uses signifiers of girls' culture in Manji to spin a tale of comedy and perversion. The novel reconfigures the S relationship to cater to the male gaze, containing and controlling the potentially disruptive shōjo character. Although the novel embeds the female characters in girls' culture, rather than a chaste friendship between two girls, Manji features a perverse sexual relationship between two adult women, ending in an attempted love suicide. By examining the references to girls' culture in the novel, as well as the theme of love suicide and censored content related to abortion and birth control, this essay shows how Tanizaki comedically, deliberately revised girls' culture tropes for male readers. Tanizaki uses mockery to contain and control the aspects of the S relationship threatening to the patriarchal order, using the recognizable markers of girls' culture to create a sexualized, voyeuristic tale of the shōjo as perverse and dangerous.


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pp. 3-20
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