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Straight from the Heart

Straight from the Heart: Gender, Intimacy, and the Cultural Production of Shōjo Manga

Jennifer S. Prough
Copyright Date: 2011
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wqnk8
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  • Book Info
    Straight from the Heart
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6057-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. CHAPTER ONE The Heart of the Matter: Gender, Intimacy, and Consumption in the Production of Shōjo Manga
    (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 editingshōjo 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 theshōjo mangaindustry was organized around such encounters, across tables scattered with colorfulshōjo mangamagazines.

    Shōjo mangais manga for girls. This is apparent through the abundance of pastel and glitter, hearts and stars, and doe-eyed...

  5. CHAPTER TWO Descent and Alliance in the Shōjo Manga Family Tree: A Postwar History
    (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 with, manga’s history was coterminous with postwar history, as Maruyama suggests above. By examining the ways that the development of theshōjo mangaindustry was in conversation with wider economic and cultural trends, this chapter provides a deeper...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Raising Readers, Rearing Artists: Fabricating Community in Shōjo Manga Magazines
    (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 ashōjo mangamagazine. Saejima’s animated description of the magazine she edits highlights several of the issues I will examine in this chapter: the focus on readers’ desires (for stories and goods), the link between readers and artists, and ultimately the construction of a sense of community through the magazine pages.

    In discussingshōjo mangamagazines, many of the editors I spoke with used...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Affective Labor: Gender, Generation, and Consumption in the Production of Shōjo Manga
    (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 between the readers and the creators of manga. The tenet that manga, the mass medium, grew up along with the first postwar generation of children presumes that these youngsters exerted dual influence on the genre, both as...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Material Gals: Girls’ Sexuality, Girls’ Culture, and Shōjo Manga
    (pp. 110-134)

    Thekogyaruas heroine of Shibuya, depicted in the promotional tagline for “Gals!” above, is telling of the relationship betweenshōjo mangaand the discourses about girls that surfaced in the 1990s. “Gals!” by Fujii Mihona, is a typical millennialshōjo mangathat ran in Shueisha’sRibonmagazine from late 1999 through 2003. The antics of the gals (gyaru) Kotobuki Ran and her schoolmates, Miyu and Aya, policing the streets of Shibuya vigilante style, dressed inkogyaru-chic, captured the hearts of young girls throughout Japan. The combination of materialism, sexuality, and cute in this story of the life of teens...

  9. EPILOGUE Shōjo Manga at Large
    (pp. 135-146)

    Beginning in 2002Wiredmagazine added a column called “Japanese School girl 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 That is to say, some are related to technology and some are not. Granted,Wiredhas always included information on the subcultures that surround new technology, but the question remains, What does that...

  10. Appendix A. Magazine List
    (pp. 147-148)
  11. Appendix B. Manga Division Organizational Chart
    (pp. 149-150)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 151-164)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 165-180)
  14. Index
    (pp. 181-184)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 185-190)