The term "Lolita Complex" is applied to older gentlemen who eroticize young girls, especially those who are on the cusp of puberty. It takes its name, of course, from that famous novel by Vladimir Nabokov.

In Japan, the Lolita Complex, or "Lolicon" as it is called, has become a social phenomenon. The Japanese are unfortunately rather well known for this rather disturbing little fetish. A good look at contemporary Japanese art provides an ample example; women are usually drawn with extremely youthful faces (the famous Big Eyes, Small Mouth combination is an example of this), and the plots of numerous manga and anime revolve around young girls who become interested in men who are much older than they (Sailor Moon, for example).

Outside of the realm of comics and cartoons, the Japanese pop-music scene is constantly beset by an endless rotation of new girl bands, usually with singers between the age of 13 and 17.

Interestingly enough, many Japanese artists are aware of Lolicon art and seek to subvert it by taking it to extremes, often particularly unusual or grotesque extremes. Several excellent examples of this phenomenon were organized by Tokyo-based artist Takashi Murakami as part of the exhibiton Superflat.

As for why Japan has always historically been subject to a relatively high occurance and tolerance for Lolicon may have to do with the integration of Japanese culture with shinto, Japan's indigenous animist religion. Shinto associates divinity with the concepts of newness and purity, which are two qualities traditionally found in children, but especially (I suppose) little girls.

Thursday, August 23, 2001 at 05:27:35
khym chanur:

I agree that not all Japanese Big Eyes, Small Mouth styled artwork (or even most of it) directly caters to any form of Lolita Complex. However, if we agree that lolicon is an actual living Japanese social phenomenon, then I think that BESM artwork can be taken as a sign of its acceptance (or at least quiet acceptance) and influence (even unintentional influence) in the greater culture. My hypothesis is supported by the literature that accompanies several of the exhibits of the Superflat, exhibition of Japanese art I mentioned earlier when I talked about the artists who actively seek to subvert BESM and other artistic styles that, on some level, sexualize children, or, as is almost always the case, childize the sexy.

I, personally, am I big fan of anime and manga. Some of my stuff though, such as the later issues of the Dragon Half manga published in Japan by Kadokawa Comics Dragon Jr., and the Pure Trance manga and fractured fairytales illustrated by Mizuno Junko and published in Japan by Cue Comics contain artwork and plot points that could be seen as being related to lolicon. Both of these are comics that I enjoy. There are elements, but they certainly don't dominate the books, or even come close. They are subtle elements, but they are there.