Concepts of “Bonds” and “Romantic Love” in Japanese Women's Culture-- the Representation of the Contemporary Japanese Male Idols

Friday, July 18, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Mari NISHIHARA , Kansai University, Japan
The purpose of this paper is to consider the representation of Japanese male idols, one of the largest genres in Japanese popular culture aimed at women, and characteristic of larger recent women’s culture that it is part of. Specifically, through an analysis of articles (text and images) of female oriented magazine media, I will clarify how the image of male idols is constructed by the media. Building on this analysis, I will expand further on the concepts of “bonds” and “romantic love” in recent Japanese women’s culture.

   Until recently, Japanese male idols, like those from “Johnny’s Entertainment” were ascribed with the role of the ideal love partner for Japanese women. However, in recent media dealing with male idol groups popular in the 2000s, strong friendship and relationships of mutual trust between the members of the group are represented frequently. “The every day” of idols, including events at school and communication with friends or family are depicted, and many instants of physical contact and conversation are made to look like expressions of homosexuality. Situations that consist of silly tomfoolery and play by these idols are usually referred to as "WachaWacha-kan". What is important here it is that the existence of female fans is not represented at all in the discourse of these articles.

   In other words, the current male idols is represented as “ideal love partner” for women, but at the same time as someone who could not possible ever enter into a heterosexual relationship with the reader of these media. In the social background of this peculiar development, links can be made with "yaoi" culture (female made and oriented fiction on romantic and sexual relationships between men) in Japan, as well as changes of heterosexual values. In this way, I consider characteristics of recent Japanese woman culture through magazine media.