Orientalism, Self-Orientalism, and Occidentalism in the Visual-Verbal Medium of Japanese Girls’ Comics


  • Rebecca Suter


Among the most interesting aspects of the genre of shōjo manga, Japanese girls’ comics, are its consistent refusal of straightforward realistic representation in both word and image, and its exoticisation of European culture. The comics are renowned for their fantastical narrative and graphic style, as best exemplified by the use of “large, starry eyes, emotive backgrounds, and rule-breaking panel arrangements,” and by the overwhelming presence of interior monologue in the narration. Furthermore, the stories are often set in imaginary Western, generally European, countries, and they use such settings simultaneously as a source of escape from the constraints of everyday reality and as a tool to produce critical distance and induce reflection on cultural and social norms. In this article, I aim to investigate girls’ comics’ combination of experimental visual-verbal techniques and exoticisation of Western culture, to shed light onto their use of fantascapes as a platform for a critique of social normativity.