Article

When Cute Becomes Scary: The Young Female in Contemporary Japanese Horror Cinema

Joseph Christopher Schaub

in The Oxford Handbook of Film and Media Studies

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780195175967
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195175967.013.0014

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

When Cute Becomes Scary: The Young Female in Contemporary Japanese Horror Cinema

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This article studies the transformation of the young female from a member of the “kawaii”, or cute, culture of the 1980s to a dominant signifier of the Japanese-horror (J-horror) genre of the late 1990s. It first examines the context for the kawaii style and the specific role that was played by the shôjo during the late 1980s, before looking at the changes that the shôjo went through in the J-horror films of the late 1990s. It then takes a closer look of the role of the shôjo in three iconic films of the J-horror genre, namely: Audition, Ringu, and Ju-on. This article shows that the sudden increase of popularity of horror films occurred during times of social upheaval, and that the shôjo can signal the joy of self-indulgent consumption (kawaii style) or can trigger deep-felt anxieties (J-horror).

Keywords: shôjo; kawaii; Japanese-horror; iconic films; J-horror genre; popularity; horror films; social upheaval

Article.  10415 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Film

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