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Beautiful Fighting Girlby Saito Tamaki
Synopses & Reviews
From Cutie Honey and Sailor Moon to Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the worlds of Japanese anime and manga teem with prepubescent girls toting deadly weapons. Sometimes overtly sexual, always intensely cute, the beautiful fighting girl has been both hailed as a feminist icon and condemned as a symptom of the objectification of young women in Japanese society.
In Beautiful Fighting Girl, Saito Tamaki offers a far more sophisticated and convincing interpretation of this alluring and capable figure. For Saito, the beautiful fighting girl is a complex sexual fantasy that paradoxically lends reality to the fictional spaces she inhabits. As an object of desire for male otaku (obsessive fans of anime and manga), she saturates these worlds with meaning even as her fictional status demands her ceaseless proliferation and reproduction. Rejecting simplistic moralizing, Saito understands the otaku’s ability to eroticize and even fall in love with the beautiful fighting girl not as a sign of immaturity or maladaptation but as a result of a heightened sensitivity to the multiple layers of mediation and fictional context that constitute life in our hypermediated world—a logical outcome of the media they consume.
Featuring extensive interviews with Japanese and American otaku, a comprehensive genealogy of the beautiful fighting girl, and an analysis of the American outsider artist Henry Darger, whose baroque imagination Saito sees as an important antecedent of otaku culture, Beautiful Fighting Girl was hugely influential when first published in Japan, and it remains a key text in the study of manga, anime, and otaku culture. Now available in English for the first time, this book will spark new debates about the role played by desire in the production and consumption of popular culture.
Book News Annotation:
Vincent (Japanese and comparative literature, Boston U.) and Lawson (East Asian studies, New York U.) introduce the powerful, sexualized girls of Japanese anime and manga, and their influence on American media. A Japanese psychiatrist offers a Lacanian analysis of the beautiful fighting girl as an unattainable object of desire for otaku--fans of these pop culture genres. The book includes a genealogy chart, chapter on the link between Henry Darger's outsider art and otaku culture, illustrations, afterwords to the 2000 and 2006 Japanese editions, and commentary on The Elder Sister of Otaku: Japan's Database Animals. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From Nausicaä to Sailor Moon, understanding girl heroines of manga and anime within otaku culture.
About the Author
Saito Tamaki is a practicing psychiatrist and medical director of the Sofukai Sasaki Hospital in Chiba, Japan. He is the author of more than two dozen books. J. Keith Vincent is assistant professor of Japanese and comparative literature at Boston University. Dawn Lawson is New York Universitys East Asian studies librarian. Hiroki Azuma is a leading cultural critic in Japan.
Table of Contents
A Note on the Translation
Translators Introduction J. Keith Vincent
Beautiful Fighting Girl
1. The Psychopathology of Otaku
2. Letter from an Otaku
3. Beautiful Fighting Girls outside Japan
4. The Strange Kingdom of Henry Darger
5. A Genealogy of the Beautiful Fighting Girl
6. The Emergence of the Phallic Girls
Afterword to the First Edition (2000)
Afterword to the Paperback Edition (2006)
Commentary: The Elder Sister of Otaku: Japans Database Animals (2006)
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