Shōjo Desire


Location: Hesburgh Center Auditorium

Margherita Long; associate professor of Japanese and comparative literature; University of California, Riverside

This talk introduces Star Red, a 1980 shōjo manga by Hagio Moto. Feminist critic Miyasako Chizuru celebrates Hagio’s text as a breakthrough both for Hagio and for feminism. Finally, girls are invited to imagine themselves at their most powerful and interesting—not as boys, non-girls or phallic girls, but as girls. Miyasako coins the term “hyper-girl” to describe the manga’s heroine, a Martian who can see things from every angle, with no blind spots. But as Kotani Mari points out, the hyper-girl disappeared from the Japanese popular culture scene almost as quickly as she appeared in the 1980s. Where did she go?

The talk discusses vision as a function of desire and introduces some key terms from psychoanalysis, touching on Azuma Hiroki’s essay about the visual field of “Superflat.” Then it describes the unique achievement of Star Red as a distinctly different approach to looking and desiring.

Long (Ph.D., Princeton University) studies modern Japanese literature, feminist theory, psychoanalysis, and Japanese visual culture. Currently, she is working on “Animating the Virtual Feminine,” a collection of essays on anime, as well as a book project on the debate over Japan’s postwar “peace constitution” in the context of literary contributions.