Kawaii and Mature

“This is a great movie, but I will not watch it again.”

I read this comment online, and I believe it is true for many people. This movie is fascinatingsuspenseful and worth-thinking. But it also includes depression, panic, violence and pornography. It is just too depressing. 

But today  I want to talk about one thing among all of these — the growth, from kawaii to mature. In this movie, I saw Mima overcame all difficulties and grew up. When she decided to act the raped plot, she said “I will do it” in front of people, but she was questioning herself inside. A small detail: in the raping play, Mima’s costume was kawaii and very similar to CHAM’s costume. It means in Mima’s heart, that kawaii & pure pop star was stained. And after the play, she sat in the dressing room alone, dressed all black. This scene is even more shocking than the rape scene. Because at that moment, something inside Mima’s heart started to change. She questioned herself. She doubted if her choice was right, if she was corrupting. She was struggling inside. 

Then she couldn’t distinguish the real life and the play she acted. She even thought she killed the photographer when she saw the bloody clothes. Actually there was a very small detail in the movie. The bag Mami took from supermarket was printed “F.G.G” but the bloody bag was printed “F G G”. Author was hinting us that Yumi killed those people. The most impressive scene for me is that at the end when Yumi wanted to kill Mima, she said “Don’t kid. Mima is a pop star. You are just a dirty fake.” Mima cried and answer “I don’t care. I am just myself.”

At the end when Mima visited Yumi in the hospital, she already became a very famous star needed to wear sunglasses outside. If there wasn’t the “old Mima”, now there won’t be a new Mima. Now she can say confidently, “I am the real Mima.” After all difficulties and dangers, she found the true Mima, and lived as she wanted. Kawaii appearance is cute, but a mature heart is what we need.

3 thoughts on “Kawaii and Mature

  1. I really like how you related kawaii to maturity which could be viewed as opposites. In Korea, the fandom culture is very much similar to the one in this anime and so the stars always have to consider their fans and their opinions. But then as Mima came to realize, I think it is important to truly be oneself and choose the path he or she wants to choose regardless of other people’s will.

  2. Yuqian,

    I think you do a good job here of highlighting two of the main themes of the film–cuteness and maturity. You also do a great job here using specific details from the film to highlight your points. I am curious as to what you think about what this suggests about gender. How is Mima’s narrative of growth shaped by social expectations of her as a (commodified) woman? What do the reactions of other characters in response to her newfound maturity suggest about Japanese society? How do we read the female idol versus the actress–why is one expected to be innocent, and the other mature?

    Cheers,
    Amanda

    • Amanda,
      Thank you for your comment. I want to answer your last question first.

      1) How do we read the female idol vs. actress (in Japan)?
      Actress is a job. The core of this job is acting skill. Actresses’ income, social status, reputation (but not popularity ) are determined by their capacity for work – acting skill. Why actresses are expected to be mature is because they should be responsible for their jobs and audience. They should clearly distinguish real life and acting (Mima wasn’t confused about the plays and her real life). They should not be limited by one or few types of roles. Mima’s early roles were still innocent and cute, but gradually she tried to challenge sexy, dark, abnormal characters. This is a sign of her transition to actress from idol.

      Idol was a attribute, but it is becoming a career in Japan and Korea. Idol’s starting point is “character design” (人物设定). Idol’s main job is to attracting more fans. Their cores are usually appearance + character design. And “popular character design” in a country is determined by social backgrounds. For example, popular idols in Japan are often expected to be cute & innocent, but idols in Western are often expected to be sexy and mature (could be wrong). Mima’s character design was being kawaii & innocent of course. This is determined by a national culture evolved a long period of time: many Japanese (especially males) prefer pure and cute girls.

      2) How is Mima’s narrative of growth shaped by social expectations of her as a (commodified) woman?
      Mama a young girl was expected to be a cute and pure idol when she was in CHAM, and she acted like that. She danced and sung pop songs with her group. So she was more and more famous and popular. However, after she transformed to actress which deviated from fans’ expectation, she received a severe challenges on her road of growth. Her acting wasn’t very successful because people were unsatisfied with her transition at first. For becoming a more famous actress, she had to accept rape play and take sexy photos. But she was worried and suspicious because she knew that she already deviated from the expectations of her fans, family, and “another personality of Mima”. It is not necessarily Mima expected herself to be innocent idol, but she received those expectations from all people around her. People put her a great pressure to force her to think “she should be an pure idol”. But these expectations conflict with what she actually did, so she met many challenges in her growth.

      3) What do the reactions of other characters in response to her newfound maturity suggest about Japanese society?
      Majority of her fans and people around her were unsatisfied with her transition implied that at that time, Japanese preferred kawaii and pure styles for idols. I think it is also true for nowadays. Rumi and Mima’s another personality said “you are a dirty woman now” after Mima acted that rape scene. Some extreme fans even threatened her, such as the blog. It implies that acting sex scene was not easily accepted by audiences in Japan at that time. Especially women’s social status in Japan was lower than today’s. Actresses had to be under great pressure during and after the acting. (Still true for today).

      (P.S.: They are all my personal opinions. They might be wrong. No offence.)

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