Escape from the dollhouse
“I might have to make a disclaimer before the talk,” said Eve Zimmerman, associate professor of Japanese language and literature at Wellesley College. “It’s a bit sexualized.”
At noon on Wednesday, Feb. 2, Zimmerman presents a talk titled “Comic Books for Big Girls: Uchida Shungiku and the Realm of the Dollhouse” in the boardroom at the School for Advanced Research (660 Garcia St., 954-7200) as part of SAR’s Colloquium lecture series.
In the mid-1980s, Japanese manga-ka (comic artist) and controversial author Shungiku released Minami-kun no Koibito (Minami’s Girlfriend), a comic book that tells the story of a girl who, through an unknown curse, shrinks to Barbie-doll size and then moves into a dollhouse in her boyfriend’s (Minami’s) bedroom. “The couple begins trying to negotiate its sexual relationship under these new, awkward circumstances,” Zimmerman told Pasatiempo, “and Shungiku uses the situation along with eroticism to comment on and reject the Japanese patriarchal family system. She also brings up issues of sexual abuse and how she believed Japanese girls were being viewed and treated as sexual property.”
In her talk, Zimmerman uses Shungiku’s illustrations to discuss issues of gender and sexual identity in modern Japan. She also juxtaposes Shungiku’s work against examples of 18th-century Japanese shunga (erotic art) by Harunobu Suzuki that include the image of Mane’emon, or “Bean Man,” a tiny fellow who spies on lovers — “a kind of peeping Tom Thumb,” as he has been described. There is no charge for the lecture; call SAR for more information.