(英文版) スクールガール・コンフィデンシャル - Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential: How Teenage Girls Made a Nation Cool (英語) ペーパーバック – 2010/4/22
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Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential is a must for anyone curious about the girls that dominate Japan’s pop culture. For years schoolgirls have shown up in internationally popular anime and manga such as Sailor Moon, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Blood: The Last Vampire. There are kick-ass schoolgirl characters in videogames like Street Fighter, Quentin Tarantino included one as an assassin in Kill Bill, and magazines such as WIRED keep an eye on the trends emerging among these stylish teens.
With chapters covering everything from sailor-suited pop-idols and cult movie vixens, to the power of shopping and uniform fashion, Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential takes you beyond the realm of everyday schoolgirls to discover the secrets behind this iconic creature. Learn the origins of their famous sailor-style uniforms, and how they became a brand used to sell anything from kimchi to insurance. Discover why these girls have become such a symbol of girl power, and why they are so very, very cool!
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Brian's newest book titled "Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential: How teenage girls made a nation cool" is an eight chapter non-stop page turner that takes you through the many types of Japanese schoolgirls and describes how the style has been an influence on Japan since the late 1800's.
Jumping between the schoolgirl's types, you will read about their roles as idols, rock musicians, actresses and influence on anime and videogames. They are super heroes of Japan, students by day and role models by night. There is no doubt that their influence even stretches outside of Japan, seeing how Quentin Tarantino casted Chiaki Kuriyama in Kill Bill. A certain level of sexiness mixed with power seems to be what causes everyone around the world to look. Companies will run their entire business solely focused on marketing to the Japanese schoolgirls. It's something that will never go away, yet will always be ever-changing.
Brian Ashcraft and his wife, Shoko Ueda, give the most comprehensive look at the girls that have shaped Japan. Whether you have interests in Japan's history, a love for videogames, or are an anime otaku, this book will definitely keep your eyes glued to the pages.
Onto the matter of writing. There is actually very little book here. It's not quite 200 pages and a lot of it is either taken up by pictures (some being full page) or by the text's own large print. It comes off as even shorter than that. Also, it seems like it was written by a crazed fanboy at times. I can only assume that he included his Japanese wife(?) as a way to attempt to legitimize his work, but it seems like only one voice speaks here. Also, weird for any book, let alone one of referece, it has no concluding chapter/essay. It just STOPS.
That being said, this book was an interesting read and I think it will help non-fans or new fans of anime/Japanese pop culture to get some nice background information on the basis of trends and fads in Japanese schoolgirl pop culture, but that same reader should take the text as a whole with a grain of salt as any real research will prove a lot of the author's facts as poorly researched. I don't think this book is horrible, but I don't recommend it at all.
The novel covers eight chapters. The first is dedicated to the origin of the schoolgirl's sailor suit with tidbits on the sailor suit's effect on Japanese culture woven in. You'll learn old customs like taking a boy's second button from the top to current fads like gluing loose socks to yourself.
The second chapter covers idol worship and music. Thanks to this chapter I've discovered new Japanese music that I would have otherwise never heard of. You'll learn about different super groups and music featuring information on AKB48, Momoe Yamaguchi, Masako Mori, Junko Sakurada, Tsukasa Ito, Seiko Matsuda, Scandal, Jurian Beat Crisis, Onyanko Club, and Morning Musume.
The third chapter covers movies. You'll learn about the influence of the school girl on both western cinema (Kill Bill and Babel) as well as eastern cinema (Kite, Battle Royale). In particular the section goes into depth on the school girl movies of the seventies and their use of school girls as catalysts into fantasy both sexual and horrorific.
The fourth chapter covers shopping and how school girls form the bulk of Japanese buying power. You'll learn how items like the pager and the cell phone were popularized by the school girl and how the school girl's lack of interest can swiftly execute a fad (such as the Tamagotchi).
The fifth chapter covers magazines and fashion. You'll learn about the infamous Kogals of the nineties and their effect on helping women escape from stereotype and form their own individual styles. You'll also learn about the fashion magazine Egg and it's use as a forum for Japanese schoolgirls before the age of the internet.
The sixth chapter covers art. As expected you'll learn about the school girl's influence on art with samples from Rin Nadeshico, Noriko Yamaguchi, Motoyuki Kobayashi and others.
The seventh chapter covers video games. You'll learn about the infamous Japanese dating sims, as well as visual novels. Many of these games and visual novels have since become anime, such as To Heart, Kanon, and Clannad.
The eight chapter covers anime and manga. You'll learn about the evolution of the school girl in manga from the high school teen (Peach Girl) to magical girl (Sailor Moon) to mecha controling saviors (Neon Genesis Evangelion).
Japanese School Girl Confidential is a must buy for anyone remotely interested in anything involving Japanese culture. Though I bought the book mainly for its chapters on music, movies, games, and anime the other chapters were just as immersing and informative. It may be a quick read but the information you'll gain is well worth the money!
I was disturbed however by the chapter on "Suicide Circle" or "Suicide Clubs". The thought that Japanese schoolgirls might commit suicide because it is fashionable to do so is disturbing. It is not clear whether this was reality or just an exploitation movie. It is known than any time a suicide is publicized there are always copy-cat suicides. The fact that somebody would make a movie about this is upsetting. Sam Sloan