Panel Configurations in Shōjo Manga / 夏目房之介の評論: 少女マンガ のコマ構成 夏目 房之介

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U.S.-Japan Women's Journal

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Natsume Fusanosuke is a seminal scholar of Manga Studies whose influential works include How to Read Manga (Manga no yomikata, coauthored, 1995) and Why Is Manga So Interesting? Its Grammar and Expression (Manga wa naze omoshiroi no ka: sono hyōgen to bunpō, 1997). This essay, the near-culminating chapter of the latter book, presents, in streamlined language and condensed form, what Natsume deems the central aspects of panel constructions in shōjo manga (girls’ comics): the use of panel encapsulations and layering to liberate narratives from [End Page 58] sequential time; the abolishment of the principle of compression (asshuku) and release (kaihō) to create a relaxed sense of freedom; and the development of blank white space (or, “the gutter”) into “break space” (mahaku) for symbolic use within narratives. Natsume describes these techniques and their development since the 1970s as reactions to classical approaches of panel organization defined by such 1960s artists as Ishinomori Shōtarō. Natsume sees shōjo manga artists’ playful deconstructions of standard panel configurations as another wave of creativity and development in the manga genre, making manga “interesting” (omoshiroi) and special in world comics. Natsume argues that, by the 1990s, artists across the manga industry were using shōjo-manga panel configurations, regardless of whether they were creating shōjo manga or boys’ or men’s comics (shōnen manga or seinen manga).


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