Accepted Paper:

Interlocking mediums: an exploration of Japanese Lolita fashion and visual-kei music  


Leia Atkinson (University of Ottawa)

Paper short abstract:

Japanese youth cultures are often described as fandoms, revolving around particular popular culture entities such as anime characters. This presentation will explore Japanese Gothic-Lolita fashion and its relationship to visual-kei musician, Mana, through using both post-subcultural and fandom theory.

Paper long abstract:

In the 1990s, youth cultures based around media representations began to emerge within Japan. It was at this time that both Lolita fashion and visual-kei music began to rise in prominence. Lolita fashion, featuring bows and petticoats, is often reminiscent of Victorian England. Conversely, visual-kei music emerged as a genre featuring a musical bricolage of rock, metal, opera, and classical music, accompanied by elaborate costumes.

Malice Mizer, a Victorian inspired visual-kei band, and particularly the band's leader, Mana, worked to bridge the gap between visual-kei and Lolita through forming the style 'Elegant Gothic-Lolita'. Mana took "Sweet Lolita" and peppered it with gothic elements, turning its pinks to blacks. He dressed in his newly invented formation of the fashion within music videos and interviews, and founded his own store entitled "Moi-même-Moitié" featuring the clothing that he had designed. Mana significantly influenced the Lolita subculture, through adding to it a gothic element, and subsequently reaching an idol-like status within the fashion, with his fans referring to him with the honorific name suffix "sama".

This presentation will use post-subcultural, and fandom theory to explore how music can shape youth subcultures through an emphasis on Gothic-Lolita fashion and its relationship to Mana of Malice Mizer. In order to do this, it will explore theories such as Michel Maffesoli's 'neo-tribalism' and Ōtsuka Eiji's explorations on Japanese subcultures.

Panel P114
Anthropology of music, popular music scenes, performance practices and challenges of the present