Straight from the Heart: Gender, Intimacy, and the Cultural Production of Shojo Manga
192pp. March 2011
Straight from the Heart: Gender, Intimacy, and the Cultural Production of Shojo Manga
Author: Prough, Jennifer S.;
Manga is the backbone of Japanese popular culture, influencing everything from television, movies, and video games to novels, art, and theater. Shojo manga (girls’ comics) has been seminal to the genre as a whole and especially formative for Japanese girls’ culture throughout the postwar era. In Straight from the Heart, Jennifer Prough examines the shojo manga industry as a site of cultural storytelling, illuminating the ways that issues of mass media, gender, production, and consumption are involved in the process of creating shojo manga.

With their glittery pastel covers and focus on human relationships and romance, shojo manga are thoroughly marked by gender—as indeed are almost all manga titles, magazines, and publishing divisions. Drawing on two years of fieldwork on the production of shojo manga, Prough analyzes shojo manga texts and their magazine contexts to explain their distinctive appeal, probe the gendered dynamics inherent in their creation, and demonstrate the feedback system that links producers and consumers in a continuous cycle of "affective labor." Each chapter focuses on one facet of shojo manga production (stories, format, personnel, industry dynamics), providing engaging insights into this popular medium. Tacking between story development, interactive magazine features, and relationships between male editors and female artists, Prough examines the concrete ways in which shojo manga reflect, refract, and fabricate constructions of gender, consumption, and intimacy. Straight from the Heart thus weaves together issues of production and consumption, human relations, and gender to explain the unique world of shojo manga and to interpret its dramatic cultural and economic success on a national—and increasingly global—scale.

15 illus.

“An important and evocative piece of scholarship, its thick description of the structures and practices of Japanese publishing an invaluable contribution to the literature on cultural production. . . . Prough does a magnificent job at giving a rich, nuanced account of how even within the context of a ‘traditional’ media industry such as book and magazine publishing [the] blurring [between producer and consumer] is formalized and systematized. I heartily recommend this book for scholars and students of publishing and Japanese culture.” —Publishing Research Quarterly (September 2011)

“An enjoyable, single-voice volume that bursts with a wealth of citations and surveys of diverse literatures.” —Choice (July 2011)

"Straight from the Heart is a wonderful book, one that is timelyand important in terms of academic interest in the anthropology ofpopular culture. Its originality lies in the author’s solid ethnographicapproach to the topic and in her detailed description of theinteractions between editors, artists, and consumers. Certainly it istime for such an in-depth English-language study of shojo manga.Prough’s work makes an important contribution to a number offields—anthropology, Japan studies, gender/women’s studies, and culturalstudies—and the writing style, organization, and length all make it anextremely attractive book for undergraduate course adoption." —Laura Miller, Eiichi Shibusawa-Seigo Arai Professor of Japanese Studies,University of Missouri-St. Louis

"The contents of shojo manga have long offered a magical world to girl readers, especially in the golden age of the 1970s. Contemporary manga such as Gals!capture readers’ attention with tales of daring girls who leadextraordinary lives within ordinary environments. Straight from theHeart offers a firsthand view of the manga publishing industry,delineating its history and exploring the numerous ways it tries tobring girls into the fold, first as reader/consumers and later, as mangaartists and/or readers of magazines for women. We need books like thisto use in the classroom that help students analyze this popular medium."—Jan Bardsley, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Author: Prough, Jennifer S.;
Jennifer S. Prough is assistant professor of humanities and East Asian studies at Christ College (the Honors College), Valparaiso University.
Read the introduction (PDF).
1. The Heart of the Matter: Gender, Intimacy, and Consumption in the Production of Shojo Manga
2. Descent and Alliance in the Shojo Manga Family Tree: A Postwar History
3. Raising Readers, Rearing Artists: Fabricating Community in Shojo Manga Magazines
4. Affective Labor: Gender, Generation, and Consumption in the Production of Shojo Manga
5. Material Gals: Girls’ Sexuality, Girls’ Culture, and Shojo Manga
Epilogue: Shojo Manga at Large
Appendix A. Magazine List
Appendix B. Manga Division Organizational Chart
Works Cited