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Part 6: Interlude: Riyoko Ikeda and The Rose of Versailles Franchise

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Origins of Shojo Manga
Part 3: Riyoko Ikeda (Part 1)
Part 4: Moto Hagio
Part 5: Keiko Takemiya

Before I get back to The Rose of Versailles, I want to make a quick note that the manga The Window of Orpheus (1975-1981), which also features a girl being raised as a boy for the sake of being an heir, but is very different than Oscar. Julius von Ahrensmeyer is the daughter of her father’s mistress, who later becomes his second wife. Because von Ahrensmeyer’s first wife had two daughters, when Julius was very small, her mother began dressing her in boy’s clothes and passing her off as a boy; when she married von Ahrensmeyer, Julius became his heir. Julius has to keep up the disguise as long as her father lives so she can inherit.

The Window of Orphesus 1

Unlike Oscar, who enjoys her work and her unusual life for the most part, Julius does not. She wants to wear dresses and be allowed to express her romantic interest in her crush Klaus, which she can’t do partially because of her all-boys music school’s strict “no homo” policy and social norms, as well as a desire to be true to herself. Additionally, she has to deal with the doctor who delivered her blackmailing her mother and threatening to out her. It’s a different take on the women-performing-masculinities genre in that, instead of being freeing or transgressive, Julius is unhappy in her role, a predecessor in some ways of the manga that would explore trans identities and social dysmorphia.


While many manga in our discussion had anime versions released, The Rose of Versailles stands out from the crowd with 40 years of continual media adaptations and marketing. In the years after the manga wrapped, The Rose of Versailles became a cultural force unto itself. First, let’s take a brief look at how The Rose of Versailles has become as recognizable and referenced in Japanese culture and media as Star Wars before we delve into the other media the series inspired.


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Regarding the education system and social “common knowledge” that leads to ignorance and erasure, check out this post on the causes and effects of the ANA commercial from the perspective of a writer who doesn’t fit neatly into the “gaijin-san” stereotypes. Reblogged with permission and my gratitude.

Lucky Hill

This is a very long post. To summarize for the TL;DR crowd, what I’m getting at is that the stereotype of “Gaijin-san” doesn’t exist in a vacuum, that there is a host of racial problems in Japan and that’s part of what makes Gaijin-san so aggravating.

Recently I found out about All Nippon Airways’ unfortunate decision to air an ad featuring a man in Japan’s ubiquitous “Gaijin-san” costume: a large nose and a blond wig. Honestly it left me stupefied because 1. the nose used was extremely large even by Gaijin-san costume standards, and 2. I had come to believe that the Gaijin-san costume was fading out of use. I remember seeing it in the variety shop InCube, being sold with Halloween costumes in 2009, but never again after that year in that store. I’d always check for it because the first time I saw it I was blown away…

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Aaand we’re a day or two late. ぎりぎりセーフ。。。じゃない。

I collected a lot of articles on geeks and gender this summer and wanted to share them here on the blog. Japan Gender Reader will be back soon!

Image via Northwest Press.

Image via Northwest Press.


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Trigger warning: sexual harassment

In preface to today’s guest post, a little background about chikan. Somewhere between 50-70% of young Japanese women experience chikan (“pervert,” often “groper”) on Japanese commuter trains in metropolitan areas (Burgess & Horii, p. 3).  To combat this, some train lines have created women-only train cars in major cities to help prevent groping in crowded train cars by providing safe spaces for women. Additionally, Japan’s camera phones make a snapshot noise that cannot be turned off to help prevent upskirt shots (see Stevens, Hayashi). Finally, in order raise awareness of the chikan problem, train stations and train lines have posted warning signs about gropers: “Beware of chikan,” “Chikan is a crime,” and so on.

When Juliana first contacted me about her personal experience with chikan, I was a little surprised, because groping on Japanese public transit is so common that a lot of us expats treat it as just another part of living in Japan–maybe not being groped regularly, but to the point where you’re convinced it’s bound to happen sooner or later. I used to consider myself “lucky” that I went 4.5 years without ever being groped, especially when traveling in Tokyo during rush hour. How horrible to think of this as luck, when that’s how everyone ought to be treated–to travel without fear or threat of molestation.


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Dove’s “Real Beauty” Campaign‘s latest attempt to engage consumers has gone viral, and you’ve likely seen some of the criticisms about it. The video “Real Beauty Sketches” depicts a group of women being asked to describe their physical appearance (faces) to an FBI profile artist who couldn’t see them; afterward, the women were described by strangers, including each other. The punchline is that the drawings on of the women based on their own descriptions are far less conventionally attractive than those based on others’ descriptions, and the tagline is “You’re More Beautiful Than You Think.”

Not buying it.

“A Social Experiment”

From Dove’s Youtube page:

Women are their own worst beauty critics. Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. [Ed: Where are your citations, Dove?] At Dove, we are committed to creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. So, we decided to conduct a compelling social experiment that explores how women view their own beauty in contrast to what others see.

Several other writers have already taken the campaign to task. (more…)

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In this reader: Bond gets hit on by a man, BBC Sherlock‘s Irene Adler is naked and that’s okay, a man does laundry, and women are not cattle. Don’t forget the “You’re Doing It Right” section at the end for some good news.

Jenna #1, detail. Copyright Alice Ross.

Jenna #1, detail. Copyright Alice Ross.


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Reblogged from I’ll Make It Myself: I Did Not Order My Beer with a Side of Sexism

While I’ve regrettably come to expect national-brand beers to perpetuate the stereotype of beer as a man’s drink and insult women in the process, what about craft beers? Caroline Wallace of  Bitch Beer recently discussed this in her article “How to alienate female beer drinkers in one easy step.”

Bitch Beer is a Austin, Texas-based beer blog written by a group of women. Bitch Beer’s name is similar to that of Bitch Magazine/Bitch Media:

We went with the name Bitch Beer because we want to disprove the old adage that women aren’t really beer drinkers. We’re evoking a name often given to sugary, low-alcohol content beer substitutes like Smirnoff Ice or Mike’s Hard Lemonade to prove that, from a stout to an IPA, these so-called bitches can drink any damn beer they please. You heard us, every beer is a Bitch Beer.

Wallace starts with a comparison of two beer ads seen at a local roller derby event… [full article]

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An update on the petition for Cibu to stop using Orientalist names for their products from (the one and only) Bitch Media:

Image via Bitch Magazine.

Image via Bitch Magazine.

Wash that Racism Out of Your Hair! After Protest, Cibu Brand Promises to Nix Racist Hair Product Marketing.

Using racial stereotypes for laughs in marketing is nothing new. Even these days, many people don’t seem to notice the casual racism of some marketing campaigns—especially when their culture isn’t the one being used as a punchline.

Case in point: Cibu International’s line of hair products with names like “Miso Knotty Detangler” and “Geishalicious Shampoo.” Many of Cibu’s product names lump together food and martial arts references from different Asian cultures. But the worst are those that play on creepy, fetishizing stereotypes about Asian women, such as “Miso Knotty Detangler” and “Geishalicious Shampoo.” In one image originally posted on Cibu’s Facebook page, a naked Asian woman is pictured on her knees, hands behind her back, eyes downcast with the words “Seduced by Geishalicious” written underneath.

Read more on Bitch.

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Finally! I’ve been waiting and waiting for some teaser photos from the new Ôoku TV series (Ôoku Tanjô, Oct. 2012) and film (Ôoku Eien, Dec. 2012), and here they are! (Full index of posts on the series here.)

TBS Drama. Ôoku: Tanjô (Arikoto/Iemitsu) (『大奥:誕生』[[有功・家光篇]). Release date: Oct. 2012.

“The Shogun is a woman; her retainers are 3000 beautiful men….” Photo from TBS: http://ohoku.jp/eien/index.html


Let me talk about effective uses of visual media for marketing to potential viewers and to rabid fans. When you release the first promotional photos into the wild, you want your audience to have an immediate all-caps reaction Tumblr-style:


John Barrowman after David Tennant kissed him at ComicCon


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For those of you who follow my posts about gender, head over to my food blog to read my analysis of masculinizing foods for Father’s Day.

I'll Make It Myself!

There are few phrases I hate more than “guy food.”

As it’s now mid-June, Father’s Day has come and gone, and, like any proper holiday, we celebrate it with food. However, as a food blogger and perpetual recipe-hunter, I’ve been bombarded with so many blog posts, articles, and recipe suggestions for “guy food,” “guy-friendly food,” and “meals for dad” that I’m starting to wonder if the gender police are about to knock on my door and arrest my husband and me for willful negligence of the hunter-gather roles we so clearly agreed to in our wedding vows. Because all gender roles are totally fixed and set from time immemorial, and culturally-informed personal preferences have nothing to do with food consumption!

Somewhere along the line, American culture decided that cooking meat over charcoal was the epitome of manly cookery, as it combines the three tenets of heteronormatively masculinizing your home-life: gadgets…

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