- JAPAN SOCIETY FOR GENDER STUDIES
- 日本ジェンダー研究 (ISSN:18841619)
- vol.2001, no.4, pp.3-16, 2001-09-20 (Released:2010-03-17)
Looking at feminist fictional writings since the time of Charlotte Gilman's Herland from the perspective of how they dealt with the issue of reproduction, one can find a group of works using unisexual reproduction as the central theme or as an important motif. This paper examines one of them, Marginal (1985), a girls'manga (comic) by Moto Hagio. Girls' manga are an important source of insight into Japanese women's views on their gender, and this paper outlines the history of girls' manga in comparison with the boys' counterpart, which provides a clue as to what made Hagio use the theme of unisexual reproduction inMarginal, in which she attempted to examine the concept of maternity.In the first phase of manga's development from the late 1960's up to the 1980's, both girls' and boy's manga were based on illusions about the opposite sex. Boys in girls' comics were either dashing gentlemen or handsome rebels aching for maternal love, whereas boys' comics were interested in girls only as the object of the macho hero's desire. However, from the late 1980's, while Boys' manga stayed with its fantasies of women as mere recipients of the male sex drive, girls' manga started to see men in a more sober light. The gap between the ideal of equal partnership and reality began to feature strongly, and themes such as homosexuality, transsexualism and transvestism have been given a serious examination.This shift was a result of a significant change in Japanese women's view on reproduction. As women acquired education and financial independence, they rejected the notion that a woman's happiness lies in love, marriage and childbearing ; the link between marriage and motherhood was broken. Stories centring on the theme on unisexual reproduction appeared in girls' manga amidst this tidal change.Marginal is a sci-fi manga set in 2999A.D., when Earth is a polluted and diseased planet long deserted by most humans after a pandemic viral infection 700 hundred years earlier made all women infertile. A company that runs an economic empire across the solar system maintains experimental colonies on Earth where no babies can be born and all inhabitants are men. The company supplies the colonies with test-tube children through a pseudo-religious system, but inhabitants live under a dark shadow of apocalyptic pessimism. Hagio examines maternity in an imaginary world where, in the absence of women, motherhood is artificial and there are no heterosexual relationships.A scientist who has been running illegal reproductive experiments in a hideout on Earth is killed by the company, and a product of his experiments, a telepathic hermaphrodite with the ability to tune into other people's dreams and wishes, survives the attack and encounters colony men. The psychic child causes a catastrophic flood when he responds to the wishes of colony dwellers who dream their doomed world to end, but in a dramatic climax, he empathizes with the Earth's dream of ancient blue seas that nurtured life, a dream of life.The ambiguous ending ofMarginal seems to support conventional praise of maternity, but here the hope of regeneration comes not from the child's ability to conceive but through restoration of the Earth's productive potential. Hagio sees maternity as something more fundamental than the materialistic notion of baby-making; to her, restoration of the fertility of the Earth, the source of life itself, is the paramount concern.