I just saw a tv special about the making of an upcoming drama that made me think about the portrayal of lolita fashion on Japanese tv, because a lot of people ask about it. Of course, I don’t watch tv 24/7, and I don’t speak Japanese brilliantly, so I don’t know everything there is to know, but I do keep an eye out for lolita characters or even cameos– and I do have a fondness for dramas! Anyway there are a couple of dramas this season that make me think of the way tv dramas look at this fashion I love so much.
First is NHK’s upcoming キャットストリート (“Cat Street”), which is based on a manga by the artist of Hana Yori Dango (which, aside from being immensely popular in that form, also spawned a media frenzy around it’s multiple drama recreations; in fact, there’s a Hana Yori Dango movie in theaters right now!), which prominently features a lolita character. I haven’t read the comic, but through a little research I see that the lolita is a girl named “Momiji” who makes her own clothes and finds herself generally shunned because of her fashion. From the special, I see that she is portrayed at least in the drama as the usual uber-energetic best friend of the main character, and her style is primarily sweet lolita (though in the interview the actress refers to her own character as “Gothic Lolita”).
This program starts on Thursday and I look forward to seeing it, although I’ll have to stream it online because it comes on pretty early 😦
Also currently on air is the Teppei-starring Shibatora, which features a character who works at a maid cafe. Episode 5 most prominently features the maid cafe, in which all the “maids” wear clothing from Baby the Stars Shine Bright. The clothes are never referenced as lolita clothes and are just considered normal costumes for waitresses in maid cafes to wear. This is a fallacy though, actually– I’ve never seen maid cafe staff in anything but maid cosplay; I have, however, seen some Alice- or otherwise-themed cafes uniform their employees in some brand items. For example, the staff of the Alice cafe in Nagoya all wear uniforms by Milky Ange. Anyway, another theme of that particular episode is pedophilia, which is upsetting in the way it is related to lolita.
I think the two completely different portrayals of lolita fashion provided by these shows gives us a little insight into the mindsets in Japan about lolitas. The first girl is lolita ALL the time. It’s who she is. I guess she’s what would be called a “lifestyle loli” in the west. The other girls happen to wear lolita as part of their jobs, which is directly connected to otaku/moe culture and attracts some creepy characters. Of course I feel more comfortable with the first version, but in the general media the latter is much more common. If not something that is related to maid cafes, lolita characters are usually portrayed as gloomy or downright psychotic. You never really see just a normal girl who happens to dress like a little doll… but then, maybe normal girls don’t 😛
I’m not really worried about whether this particular media attention is going to change the face of lolita or anything; it actually happens all the time– don’t forget there was recently a Hello Project group that performed in lolita (called, for some reason, The Possible). A few months back there was also a hime lolita featured on 恋のから騒ぎ(“Much Ado About Love”), a show that is based around a gravelly-voiced host– a very famous tv personality in Japan– asking “weird” girls (mostly gyaru) about their relationships. Just a couple weeks ago a sweet lolita appeared as well, though her fashion sense was a little dubious in my humble opinion.
I don’t really think the presence of lolita characters on tv (or in comics or wherever else) has really made the fashion more understandable to outsiders, though. Most of the appearances just reinforce the stereotypes they already have, so nothing ever really changes. If Cat Street becomes extremely popular, the lolita character might be thought about a little more seriously… but its still not really an accurate portrayal– after all, the lolita is just the sidekick. And the series is only 6 episodes long! I don’t predict too much ground being broken there.
I’ll watch anyway, though. Just to make sure.