Undermining the gendered genre: Kabuki in manga


Manga Studies
Kabuki Onnagata

How to Cite

Antononoka, O. “Undermining the Gendered Genre: Kabuki in Manga”. Mutual Images Journal, no. 10, Dec. 2021, pp. 109-34, doi:10.32926/2021.10.ant.under.


According to Jaqueline Berndt, Thomas LaMarre, and other critics, manga is a highly participatory media form. Narratives with vibrant characters and creative inconsistences in the plotline encourage the reader to recontextualise the text, create new contents and unfold activities which go beyond reading (such as fan art and CosPlay). Recent popularity of manga about Japanese traditional arts – for example, Kabuki – further expanded the potential interaction with manga and other popular media to include (re)discovering traditional Japanese culture. Examples, such as Kabukumon by Tanaka Akio and David Miyahara (Morning 2008-2011), or Kunisaki Izumo no jijō by Hirakawa Aya (Weekly Shōnen Sunday 2010-2014) and a variety of other manga, anime and light novels exemplify this tendency. Consequently, influential franchises, such as Naruto and One Piece boast adaptations as Super Kabuki stage-plays. Furthermore, Jessica Bauwens-Sugimoto observes how thematic and stylistic overreaching in contemporary manga further distort the notions of the gendered genre that lays at the foundation of the manga industry. In this case, Kabuki theatre as a theme employs a variety of gender fluid characters and situations. For this purpose, Kabuki manga utilise cross-genre narrative and stylistic tropes, from overtly parodying borrowed tropes, to homage, and covert inclusions. On the example of Kabuki-manga I will explore a larger trend in manga to employ elements of female genres in male narratives, thus expanding the target readership. My paper explores specific mechanism that facilitates reading manga cross-genre, I also inquire what novel critical potential thematic and stylistic exchange between audiences may entail.

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Copyright (c) 2022 Olga Antononoka