Manga (Japanese comics) is an established medium for exploring gender and sexuality for both its Japanese producers as well as for its readers in Japan and around the world. This panel expands the conversation surrounding queer manga in the West from its heretofore myopic focus on the boys’ love (shōnen ai) and girls’ love (sub)genres in order to explore how queer bodies, identities, and sexualities within manga more broadly reframe and problematize extant narratives. Through integrating key figures of the shōjo (girls’), shōnen (boys’), and josei (women’s) manga genres spanning the period from the 1960s to the present into our definition of “queer” manga, this panel demonstrates the ways in which mainstream manga destabilize body sameness and sexual orientation by upending and exploiting the mythological codes (Barthes) embodied in genre conventions—including those from the boys’ and girls’ love subgenres. We consider how genre conventions are differently employed by creators, editors, distributors, and readers to alternately reinforce conservative norms and allow for the possibility of critique and deterritorialization. Through our examination of queer bodies and sexualities in these other genres, we demonstrate the need to reconceive of queerness not only in manga but also in the lives of its worldwide readership. By theorizing identity, both in terms of content (transforming bodies and transformed gender) and in terms of how fans and readers consume and form communities around manga, our panel demonstrates manga’s role in contemporary struggles to promote difference by redefining agency, body, voice, sex, and gender.
Paper Presenter: Jon P. Holt – Portland State University
Paper Presenter: Hiromi Dollase – Vassar College
Paper Presenter: Mia Lewis – Stanford University
Paper Presenter: Keiko Miyajima – City University of New York, John Jay College