Pop Culture Gadabout
Saturday, August 29, 2009
      ( 8/29/2009 06:36:00 AM ) Bill S.  

S GIRLS & VIVIENNE WESTWOOD: Half of a two-book package currently being issued in the states by Viz Media, Novna Takemoto's Missin' is a 112-page paperback containing two short novels from the start of his career. Best known in the U.S. as the author of the light novel Kamikaze Girls, which fueled both a popular manga and a film adaptation, Takemoto is famous in his native Japan as an author and fashion designer.

You can definitely see his obsession with the latter in the two tales featured in Missin'. Though the primary focus of each piece is on an ultra-unreliable narrator as he or she describes the beginnings of a non-too-stable relationship, the fashion sense of the object of their obsession turns out to be a significant plot point. In the first story, "Little Shop Called the End of the World," it's the designs of onetime Malcolm McLaren collaborator Vivienne Westwood; in the title story, it's a fashion brand named MILK, originally known in Japan for its "gothic Lolita" look. (If just seeing that term conjures up disturbing Nabokovian images, you're not alone.) In both entries, the story's lead sees fashion as a signifier that the person they're watching is a kindred spirit, though how far Takemoto agrees with them is unclear. He may be a fashionista, but, as a storyteller, he is able to illuminate what's underneath the couture.

Both pieces center on narrators who are speaking to the feminine subject of their desire -- though neither girl actually appears to be in the room. In "Shop," the narrator is a disenchanted free-lance writer who opens a shop selling her personal belongings and junky bric-a-brac; when a seemingly mute girl with a disfiguring birth mark on her face shows up at the shop, he becomes enthralled with her, ultimately running away with the underage girl. We know this move is gonna lead to a bad end.

The title story proves even darker -- narrated by a self-described "homely" teenage girl who stalks Missin', the provocative female singer of a Japanese punk band called Cid Vicious. Fashioning her life on the ideals promoted by a mid-twentieth century writer named Nobuko Yoshiya, who specialized in rarefied "S Class" romances between schoolgirls, the deranged narrator dreams of herself being part of a "maidenly" relationship. She mirrors the singer's dress and quickly insinuates herself into the band's inner circle with the goal of becoming part of the group, even though she has zero experience as a musician.

While "Shop" concludes on a definite note, the title story is more open-ended. In "Missin'," we're left with our narrator promising/threatening to do something dire with a Hello Kitty guitar, though whether this occurs or not is perhaps left up the sequel, Missin' 2: Kasako, the second short book in this Viz box set. What's more immediately intriguing is Takemoto's convincing recreation of the mental workings behind his two disturbed leads, their personal philosophies, subculturally specific obsessions and rationalizations. "Obsession," the writer narrator in the first tale tells us, "makes everything possible." Untrue, but it can make for some engrossing psychological fiction.


# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed

Powered by Blogger

    follow me on Twitter