First Advisor

Jon Holt

Term of Graduation

January 2023

Date of Publication


Document Type





Culture, Horror, Japan, Manga, Shōjo

Physical Description

1 online resource ( pages)


“Mama’s Scary” (“Mama ga kowai”, 1965) by manga artist Umezu Kazuo took a new direction in depicting mother-daughter relationships by giving them a monstrous twist. “Mama’s Scary” directly responded to how mother-daughter relationships were portrayed in 1960s shōjo manga, in which they were typically shown to be loving and caring, hence why adding horror elements to such relationship dynamics was considered jarring during the Shōwa era. Therefore, to analyze “Mama’s Scary” is to also explore how women and young girls were portrayed in manga by men during the Shōwa era, and to analyze how adding the element of horror either reinforced or reversed common gender stereotypes in shōjo manga of its time.

Horror is incredibly subjective, psychological nuances specific to Japanese culture can, with this visual art form, become visible, showing the reader a terrifying experience that may not be explored in other parts of the world. Shōjo manga is inherently Japanese, so when a manga artist intentionally incorporates these qualities in horror, he creates an intensely rich Japanese expression of horror. This is very much the case with Umezu Kazuo, who recognized that the story-telling of shōjo manga should perhaps not be restricted to glamorous romance.

In other words, the horror-shōjo dynamic in manga is distinctly Japanese in which priority is placed on the interiority of the main female character, with the juxtaposition of the beautiful and the grotesque included as an overall theme of the story. To be able to identify how horror-shōjo manga deviates from the typical horror narrative is to recognize that horror–sometimes the most disgustingly ugly–can be found in the otherwise perfectly girlish feminine interiority, which is usually a genre premise seen to be useful only for romance in the shōjo-manga genre.


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Available for download on Saturday, February 01, 2025