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From Hollywood Film to Rock n Roll: American Culture in 1960s Girls' Comics in Japan

Sun, June 26, 1:00 to 2:50pm, Shikokan (SK), Floor: 1F, 108


The flow of popular culture from the United States into Japan in the early postwar period was more than a case of imitation or copying, but invigorated and inspired creation of original works. In the history of the development of manga, the dominant narrative emphasizes Tezuka Osamu's debt to Disney, often mistakenly reduced to the use of exaggerated eyes. However, the use of American popular culture in the formation of shojo manga (romance comics for girls) is far more complex, and derives from film, not American comics. The young women artists in the 1960s who were creating the genre of manga for teenage girls with romance theme drew on Hollywood films to create a fantasy of safe, happy romance. Nishitani Yoshiko, credited with creating the first shojo manga story featuring a high school romance, Mary Lou (1965), set her story in the US in a fantasyscape drawn from film. Mizuno Hideko created several unofficial manga adaptations of films, including Suteki na Kōra (Pretty Cora, based on Sabrina) and Rōma no kyūjitsu (Roman Holiday). However, in her later, more mature series Fire!, Mizuno drew on the 1960s counterculture, specifically the music of artists such as Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones to develop her themes of personal freedom and artistic expression. Through Mizuno's work, we can see the development from copying and imitation to embracing underlying ideas and reinvigorating the genre to create something entirely new, a mode of personal expression.