Little Kitten Arisa-chan Meow Meow ! / Manga Heroines

Painting with oil & gold leaf   89cm x 116cm

 

Manga has been entertaining Japanese society for hundreds of years. The oldest manga known to us today dates back to the 12th or 13th century. It is called Choju-jinbutsu-giga /鳥獣人物戯画 and told stories in sequential images with humor and wit. Literal translation of Manga /漫画is "whimsical sketches." Hokusai Manga /北斎漫画(1814 - 1834),books containing assorted drawings from the sketch books of the famous Ukiyo-e artist Hokusai, is especially famous in Europe.

 

Until the end of the World War Two, visual expressions and stories of Manga were distinctly Japanese. Something happened during the occupation period (1945 - 1952) which provoked this drastic change in manga culture. In 1971, following the post occupation era (1952 - early 60s), Riyoko Ikeda published " The rose of Versailles" which marked a decisive change in Manga style. Ikeda’s work perfected the new image of the Manga heroine with her exaggerated large eyes, pointed nose, sharp pointed jaw, and blonde or brown hair. This resonance is still strongly seen among today's manga heroines. Another important influence was " Candy Candy" by Yumiko Igarashi in 1975.

 

Both Ikeda and Igarashi chose Western settings for their fictitious stories, "The Rose of Versailles" dipicting imagined events at the court of Versailles in France, and "Candy Candy"’s pricipal character being an American orphan living near lake Michigan.

 

Not only did these characters powerfully reshape the visual images of future Manga heroines, they fundamentally changed visual presentation of young Japanese girls. So what post war event accounts for this important wave of change in Japan ?