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Mechademia 7Lines of Sight$
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Frenchy Lunning

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816680498

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816680498.001.0001

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Superflat and the Postmodern Gothic: Images of Western Modernity in Kuroshitsuji

Superflat and the Postmodern Gothic: Images of Western Modernity in Kuroshitsuji

(p.111) Superflat and the Postmodern Gothic: Images of Western Modernity in Kuroshitsuji
Mechademia 7

Waiyee Loh

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter presents a reading of Toboso Yana’s Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler), a manga series set in late Victorian England about a beautiful butler named Sebastian, who is actually a devil in disguise, and his young master, Count Ciel Phantomhive. With its Western European setting, its aestheticization of the demonic and the deathly, and its penchant for roses, Rococo motifs, and the color black, Kuroshitsuji exemplifies a type of “Gothic” style that has become popular in postwar Japanese shōjo culture. The chapter examines this shōjo Gothic style and its relation to Japanese national identity in the age of postmodern globalization and postcolonial reevaluations of the legacy of nineteenth-century Western imperialism. It argues that through its Gothic style, Kuroshitsuji paradoxically intervenes in its own idealization of Western modernity to celebrate contemporary Japan’s ability to hybridize different cultures and to disseminate its hybrid cultural commodities around the world as a cultural superpower in the age of postmodern globalization.

Keywords:   Toboso Yana, Kuroshitsuji, shōjo Gothic style, Japanese shōjo culture, Japanese national identity, Western modernity, Black Butler

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