Your Friend in Japan

Why I Love Anime for Girls, plus Japan’s “Illumination Boom”

Written by HotAnime

One of the most welcome events in the history of Japanese pop culture was when anime studios finally figured out how to appeal to female fans in a serious way, which happened during the 1990s with shows like Gundam Wing and Evangelion, with their fresh stories of “BL” tension, and Sailor Moon, which bridged the then-separate genres of magical girls and five-member sentai fighting heroes. Before this point, organized fandom had precious few females in it, and at conventions any girl would have a gaggle of male suitors hanging around to ask if she wanted to go for coffee. Happily, fandom today is much more balanced, with half the attendees at cons being female, and sometimes they do Misty cosplay.

Recently there’s been a boom in females who obsess over Japanese history, called 歴女 rekijo or “history girls.” They’re the main fanbase for Touken Ranbu, a KanColle-style browser game (and now anime) about historical samurai swords that have been transformed into hunky bishie guys. While the show’s concept is cool, it’s one of those properties that’s a bit unapproachable for us gaijin. For example, the character Kashuu Kiyomitsu is sort of an amalgamation of famous swordsman and daimyo lord Katō Kiyomasa and Fujiwara no Teika, a poet from the Heian Period who’s part of the Hyakunin Isshu, an 800 year old collection of poems. This might be a bit too esoteric for some fans.

The approach of December in Japan means breaking out the kotatsu for the first time (I did last night), eating hot steaming meatbuns while waiting train platform, and…beautiful twinkling lights? Yes, just as each corner of the country competes in spring to brand itself as having the most beautiful sakura, different cities and towns brag about how beautiful the wonderful illumination displays they’ve set up are. You can visit famous spots like Shinjuku’s Terrace City or Perry’s Landing Road of Shining Lights in Yokohama, or even come J-List’s humble home of Gunma, which has several illumination spots. Japanese towns and cities are building these attractions in part to bring in tourism, but also in the hopes that couples will have a romantic date and perhaps raise the country’s birthrate.

It’s that time of year: J-List’s huge Black Friday Weekend sale! Through the end of the weekend, you can score up to $40 off a big order with J-List, with $10 automatically deducted for each $50 you spend (up to $200). Load up on snacks, games, figures, “H” products, on this, our best ever sales event! (Sorry, not available for preorder items, J-List Box boxes or Fukubukuro.)

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