My Place In This World Essays

" Dothory lived in a small house in Kansa, with uncle Henry, aunt Em and a little dog called Toto. "
I began my introduction with a quotation from the book " The Wizard of Oz", because sometimes, when I am far away with my imagination, I associate that I am Dothory, and my village is Kansa !

I've lived in a small village situated in the north of Vietnam, " There were no trees, no hills in Kansa, and it's often very windy"- That's similar to my village: no big trees, no hills, no mountains, no spectacular sceneries, no modern facilities..It's so quiet that I can't differentiate between " peaceful"and " boring".

Our lives are very close to nature. How would you feel if there were a frog jumping or a crab crawling into your living room while you were watching TV ? It's very normal to me, when rainy season is approaching, some " uninvited guests" ( worms, butterflies,frogs) often visit my house.
In the evening, the silence is interminable and sometimes, the sounds of insects living in paddy fields wake you up at night. If you're a light sleeper and susceptible, you'll feel a bit maudlin !

The majority of people living here are farmers. They start their work at dawn and coming home when stars twinkle in the sky. Parents don't have time to keep an eye on their children, so sometimes they are being lackadaisical, Generally, they're very obedient and greatful.

I have never contemplated moving to a city although my mother can afford to do that. My village- it garners no reputation, sometimes, when the weather has fluctuated strangly and storms hit my village, our lives become more difficult than ever. A simple reason, I love my pretty village, look up to tolerant and open-minded villagers. Children respect adults and adults listen to children's perspectives. You'll never be ostracized for your weird and egregious ideas.

My village : never in bedlam, never happens quarrels between neighbors....very great !

I have often been asked about the lack of lesbians depicted in shōjo manga, especially compared with the numerous depictions of gay men. At one event I spoke with a lesbian woman for a long time, and the heart of the issue finally became vividly clear to me: “Why is it that there are so few lesbian shōjo manga?” 1

I attempted to respond with this explanation: “Lesbianism introduces reality into the work.” After all, doesn’t Hagio Moto say that when she was writing “Jūichigatsu no gimunajiumu” (1971, November gymnasium)—which was the model for her masterpiece The Heart of Thomas (1974, Tōma no shinzō), that set shōnen’ai in motion—doesn’t she say that at the draft phase, she tried writing both a female and a male version, and she gave up the female version because it was too raw and fleshy? 2 Girl readers do not want to embrace female bodies; they want to create a distance between themselves and sexual love. If that is indeed the case, then girls have no reason to desire lesbianism.

The lesbian woman I was speaking with responded: “Yet before the war the world of ‘S’ that Yoshiya Nobuko created was so well supported by girls. I can’t believe that there is no demand from readers for that kind of work now.” 3

I could not produce an answer that completely satisfied this particular woman, and I continued to wrangle with the issue: “Why can’t love between [End Page 25] women provide sufficient fantasy for girls today?”

One explanation that I might give is that the closed, girls-only time and space that comprised Yoshiya Nobuko’s world does not exist as a communal object any more. Of course there are still girls’ schools now, and in those places there are still wavering emotions between girls, and this is reflected in works such as Yoshida Akimi’s Sakura no sono (1985–86, The cherry orchard).4 However, these works do not replicate the experiences of the general masses, and although girls’ schools may exist, these days they are substantially influenced by the outside world. The schools can no longer exist as maidens’ gardens (otome no sono).5

Most important, in Yoshiya’s time, girls’ schools provided a temporary respite before marriage. Marriage was usually something parents imposed on girls with or without the girls’ agreement. Therefore in the limited time before marriage, girls desired the only love that they could freely choose for themselves: the fantasy of love between girls. And they savored it. However, as the concept of freedom in romantic relationships was popularized, romantic relationships with the opposite sex surfaced as a means for girls to choose their own paths through marriage. We label this concept “modern romantic love ideology.” This powerful fantasy drove out all other fantasies.

Thinking through my explanation, I have come to realize that my first instinct, that “lesbianism introduces reality into the work,” conceals an essential issue. I would like to consider that issue here, by examining some of the few shōjo manga that actually portray lesbianism, starting with the origins of this phenomenon in the early 1970s.


The earliest and most famous shōjo manga work portraying lesbians is Yamagishi Ryōko’s “Shiroi heya no futari” (1971, The two of the white room).6 This is the tragic love story of Simone and Recine, who are assigned a shared room in their school dormitory. When Simone is called on in class, she recites a Rainer Maria Rilke poem that is not in the textbook:

I must die because I have known herDie for the indescribable radiance of her smileFor her light hands I must die, for her . . . 7

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It is a very affecting poem. Simone then leaves Recine murmuring mysteriously, “I was looking at you as I said it.”

Backing up slightly, the story begins with Recine, who has just lost her parents in an accident, coming into the dormitory of...


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