- 国際文化論集 (ISSN:09170219)
- no.46, pp.33-53, 2012-08-31
Samurai is an important genre in Japanese entertainment media, such as books, television, and even manga. It has been a genre especially for male target groups for a long time, but during the last decade, there has been a tendency for samurai manga to focus on female target groups. In my research, I focus on the difference between the image of samurai in manga for male and female target groups, and afterwards I describe the possible social reasons for those differences. For the analysis I chose Okita Soji from Watanabe Taeko's Manga "Kaze hikaru" as an example for a samurai described for a female target group, and for a male target group, I chose Miyamoto Musashi from Inoue Takehiko's "Vagabond" as a representative samurai. I mainly follow Yomota Inuhiko's method as presented in his work "Manga genron", adding a focus on the keywords social life, love and life as swordfighter, especially analysing problems and solutions concerning these themes. Through the analysis I found some interesting answers. While the image of Okita in "Kaze hikaru" obviously is adapted to classical genres for female readers (the keywords love and social life are the main points and the story itself is similar to high-school campus stories), Miyamoto's description focuses on his work of building a strong self, especially by countless action scenes. The two represent a different ideal of masculinity, on the one side showing an Okita who is influenced by the typical effeminate male aesthetics of Japanese male pop idols-an image mainly created by aiming towards female fans. And on the other side there is a Miyamoto representing a classical warrior image, which can be interpreted as a counter flow to the new male aesthetics. Yet, Miyamoto's warrior journeys and his life far from civilization can also be seen as criticism of young men's reaction to the growing demands of their working lives, but also in their daily lives as some kind of escapism from their daily lives. In contrast to Miyamoto, Okita shows an exaggerated image of loyalty, especially to his troops' leaders and his protegee a girl dressed up as boy who joines his samurai troop. Especially his relationship to his protegee shows the uncertainty of young women concerning gender constructs and shows the desire of women to take part in social life or even to create history. In summary, it is obvious that the image of the samurai is fit to the gender of the target groups and it seems as if it gives the reader an entertaining possibility to compensate for the limits of everyday live.