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So Pretty / Very Rotten: Comics and Essays on Lolita Fashion and Cute Culture

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In a series of essays and comics that are at once academic and intimate, cartoonists Jane Mai and An Nguyen delve into Lolita subculture and their relationship with it. Empowering and beautiful, but also inescapably linked to consumerism, the Rococo-inspired fashion is indulgent and sublime, pretty and rotten. An Nguyen is a cartoonist and illustrator based in Ottawa, ON be In a series of essays and comics that are at once academic and intimate, cartoonists Jane Mai and An Nguyen delve into Lolita subculture and their relationship with it. Empowering and beautiful, but also inescapably linked to consumerism, the Rococo-inspired fashion is indulgent and sublime, pretty and rotten. An Nguyen is a cartoonist and illustrator based in Ottawa, ON best known for her romantic comic series Open Spaces and Closed Places. Jane Mai is a freelance illustrator and comic artist from Brooklyn, NY. Novala Takemoto is a Japanese author, fashion designer and prominent promoter of the Lolita lifestyle.


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In a series of essays and comics that are at once academic and intimate, cartoonists Jane Mai and An Nguyen delve into Lolita subculture and their relationship with it. Empowering and beautiful, but also inescapably linked to consumerism, the Rococo-inspired fashion is indulgent and sublime, pretty and rotten. An Nguyen is a cartoonist and illustrator based in Ottawa, ON be In a series of essays and comics that are at once academic and intimate, cartoonists Jane Mai and An Nguyen delve into Lolita subculture and their relationship with it. Empowering and beautiful, but also inescapably linked to consumerism, the Rococo-inspired fashion is indulgent and sublime, pretty and rotten. An Nguyen is a cartoonist and illustrator based in Ottawa, ON best known for her romantic comic series Open Spaces and Closed Places. Jane Mai is a freelance illustrator and comic artist from Brooklyn, NY. Novala Takemoto is a Japanese author, fashion designer and prominent promoter of the Lolita lifestyle.

30 review for So Pretty / Very Rotten: Comics and Essays on Lolita Fashion and Cute Culture

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Gordon

    I didn't expect So Pretty/Very Rotten to be so profoundly affecting given that I don't dress in lolita. But it's commentary on fashion, femininity, and politics was quite astute and provided me with a lot of thoughtful ideas to reflect upon. The book is a combination of essays and comics that seek to explore what lolita is and why people join this subculture. However, unlike so much of what I see on this style of fashion, the focus is much deeper and darker than on just how cute the clothing is. I didn't expect So Pretty/Very Rotten to be so profoundly affecting given that I don't dress in lolita. But it's commentary on fashion, femininity, and politics was quite astute and provided me with a lot of thoughtful ideas to reflect upon. The book is a combination of essays and comics that seek to explore what lolita is and why people join this subculture. However, unlike so much of what I see on this style of fashion, the focus is much deeper and darker than on just how cute the clothing is. The title refers to the humanity of those into lolita, that despite their perfect clothing, the style can be a poignant rejection of social norms and gender expectations. Lolita is about personal fulfillment. It is about showing your weaknesses and your strength to the world at the same time. It is a declaration that you will live for your own pleasure in a world that wants you to live for the pleasure of others. So Pretty / Very Rotten also digs into the imperfections of the people who wear this clothing. What drives them, sometimes too far into capitalistic and competitive frenzies? What problems are people hiding under their pretty lace and ribbons? But also what power does the fashion give them? Mai and Nguyen play with the contradictions felt by those who wear lolita, and the complexities of this intricate subculture. It is wonderful to see such a deep exploration of a world of femininity in such a careful, nuanced approach. Instead of dismissing lolita as a fade or a phase, Mai and Nguyen argue that it represents an important mode of resistance that should be taken seriously. Definitely not what I was expecting, but a compelling and well-researched read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Juan

    do you ever just feel seen

  3. 4 out of 5

    Natalie (CuriousReader)

    Disclaimer: The fashion called 'Lolita' has no known connection to Nabokov's Lolita. So Pretty/ Very Rotten is a combination of Jane Mai and An Nguyen's efforts in comic and essay form to explore different facets of lolita fashion. While the comics could be enjoyed by lolita-fans and others alike, it'll likely ring especially true to either lolitas or people who're already familiar with the niche fashion style. Lolita fashion is sort of a modern take on rococo fashion with a lot of different sub- Disclaimer: The fashion called 'Lolita' has no known connection to Nabokov's Lolita. So Pretty/ Very Rotten is a combination of Jane Mai and An Nguyen's efforts in comic and essay form to explore different facets of lolita fashion. While the comics could be enjoyed by lolita-fans and others alike, it'll likely ring especially true to either lolitas or people who're already familiar with the niche fashion style. Lolita fashion is sort of a modern take on rococo fashion with a lot of different sub-styles, originating in Japan and eventually in recent years gaining international status. The essays deal with among other topics; the origin of the fashion, the meaning of clothes as identity and expression, consumerism, differences in the North American and Japanese community aspects of the fashion, etc. There's also an interview with and an essay written by Novala Takemoto - well-known as the author of the novel 'Kamikaze Girls' which features the most famous lolita in media to date - Momoko. While I enjoyed all of the comics, I definitely personally liked An Nguyen's work better. In "Tomorrow" An Nguyen explores loneliness and one young women's effort to fill a gap in her life with material things. For me it also dealt with the contrasts between our ideals and dreams, set against the reality of our lives, and how we navigate those rifts. "Eternal Maidens" and "Ribbon Army" I think deals beautifully both with the empowering feeling in free expression, the right to love the things you love, how friendships can build with access to certain communities. It also kind of links back to the roots of lolita fashion that's part of a larger movement in Japan in which young women and girls played with self expression as a means to feel free. This topic is also dealt with in the essays. In general An Nguyen's comics are beautifully drawn, have characters that feel realized and relatable even in such a short space of time, and at the same time is story telling done right. If the entire book was a collection of her comics I think this would've been a full-star read for me! I definitely enjoyed some of the essays a lot. On the whole there's not much I didn't know before, but it was still a lot of fun to read through this book. Rather than being groundbreaking new information it felt more like I was able to share something with someone else who's also had an interest in the same thing. Like listening to a friend give you a different perspective on something you're already pretty well-versed in. I did really like seeing the contrasts between North American/Western Lolitas to Japan and the talk of lolita vs otome for example in the essay "Wavering bodies and Fluttering Minds", as well as in general the talk around the function of lolita in people's lives. Jane Mai's essay "good at looking good" I also personally really related to. In general just a lot of fun to read and would especially recommend to people interested in the fashion or for An Nguyen's comics for anyone that likes comics with girls figuring out their identity, friendship and girl power, and lots of cute clothes.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    I've been searching for this book for years, and was lucky enough to get it this year as a birthday gift. (Thank you Phoenix!!) This is a very valuable book to have in any lolitas library. If this book wasn't so hard to get your hands on, I'd say this is the book you should give someone who wants to understand lolita. I haven't worn lolita fashion in a long time (thanks to oppressive jobs and chronic illness) but this had me smiling at the frilly masterpieces in my closet with so much nostalgia. T I've been searching for this book for years, and was lucky enough to get it this year as a birthday gift. (Thank you Phoenix!!) This is a very valuable book to have in any lolitas library. If this book wasn't so hard to get your hands on, I'd say this is the book you should give someone who wants to understand lolita. I haven't worn lolita fashion in a long time (thanks to oppressive jobs and chronic illness) but this had me smiling at the frilly masterpieces in my closet with so much nostalgia. This reminded me of why I fell in love with this fashion and the ideology behind it, and why I was even a lifestyle lolita for a handful of years. It brought to mind sweet memories of friends helping me tie my waist ties, and lovingly helping me look my frilly best. It also reminded me of why I was mostly a lone lolita who didn't want to be involved in the community. I wanted this frilly dream all to myself, without anyone elses negativity or views impacting it. I wanted it to be my fantasy, on my terms. Lolita is so much more than a fashion, and this book explores this beautifully and with much detail and in-depth research. I was especially fond of the chapter about Visual Kei and it's impact on lolita, as Visual Kei was my gateway to lolita. I'm still a huge visual kei nerd, and it's always bothered me how so many lolitas nowadays ignore and sometimes outright shun it. Visual kei had a huge impact that cannot be ignored. And nothing makes me want to wear lolita more than re-listening to my favourite Visual Kei tracks. The comic titled "Together" was a really special read for me. It features a group of lolitas getting together at a visual kei concert, and the concert is like a religious experience for them. One particular line hit me really hard, it felt like someone plucked it directly from my brain and put it on the page: "Not many people in my school knew about this music so I felt like I was in on a delicious secret involving beautiful, androgynous boys with elaborate makeup and decadent music. Looking back on it, I was living in a dream world." There is so much that is special and incredible about this book, but those were some things that really stuck out to me for obvious reasons. I mean, I am the same person who cried (happy tears) at a Versailles concert in full lolita. I wonder what the band members thought? Other things I enjoyed: -I really enjoyed Novala Takemoto's contributions, he truly is a lolita legend even with his faults and eccentricities. His voice is always a valuable addition to discussions around lolita fashion as he is a veteran in the scene that has seen the literal birth of lolita and has been a part of it ever since. -I loved seeing the discussions of the Western vs Japanese perspective on the fashion, and seeing where it overlapped and differed. -Momo Matsura's feelings about the lolita fascination with death and eternity as a means to escape a cis male inflicted narrative upon them... WOW. Fascinating, and true, in my personal gothic lolita opinion. If you are a lolita and haven't read this yet... Do it! If you aren't a lolita and want a detailed insight into this strange, subversive feminist frilly fashion... Do it! You won't regret it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jaina Bee

    I entered the book with curiosity about a subculture i really have nothing to do with and did not understand and exited the book floored, wowed, awed, inspired and filled with so much more respect for this movement and the statement Lolitas are making. I had no idea how shunned and rejected Lolitas could be, and what a statement of personal sovereignty Lolitas are making. (And the fact it has nothing at ALL to do with Nabokov or his famous character, thank goodness!) The tricky issues of consume I entered the book with curiosity about a subculture i really have nothing to do with and did not understand and exited the book floored, wowed, awed, inspired and filled with so much more respect for this movement and the statement Lolitas are making. I had no idea how shunned and rejected Lolitas could be, and what a statement of personal sovereignty Lolitas are making. (And the fact it has nothing at ALL to do with Nabokov or his famous character, thank goodness!) The tricky issues of consumerism and aging and the sad reality of fashion history being so poorly archived all get airtime in this amazing collection.

  6. 4 out of 5

    sunkissedmiranda

    RATING: 4/5 stars I really enjoyed this look into Lolita subculture. When I was first introduced to the fashion, I was a little surprised to know that young women my age enjoyed dressing up like the porcelain dolls I had as a child - and while I didn't understand the WHY behind it, I thought those who wore the fashion all looked glamorous and captivating. From the essays throughout, I now have a better understanding of that why - why women want to feel cute without being sucked into the male gaze RATING: 4/5 stars I really enjoyed this look into Lolita subculture. When I was first introduced to the fashion, I was a little surprised to know that young women my age enjoyed dressing up like the porcelain dolls I had as a child - and while I didn't understand the WHY behind it, I thought those who wore the fashion all looked glamorous and captivating. From the essays throughout, I now have a better understanding of that why - why women want to feel cute without being sucked into the male gaze, how clothes can have such power over our identity, whether physical, emotional, or otherwise. As someone who now identifies as non-binary, I relate to the feelings of clothing as power and why what we wear and how we wear it distances us from societal norms. I also really liked the critiques around Lolita subculture in regards to materialism and consumerism. It reminded me, in a way, of similar critiques about bookstagram and online book culture - where shelves lined with an assortment of colorful bookspines are supposed to be gateways to happiness, but have a way of leaving some empty, and so they further filling that void with more and more books left unread and even undesired. Like bookstagram, Lolita fashion can deject as much as it uplifts, especially if your sense of self and self-control wavers more often than it remains steady. I will say I wish there was more written content. While I loved the different nuances the comic chapters captured, I had hoped for more exploration into Lolita culture in regards to race and body size, especially with those who have lived through or seen such discriminations.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Misty

    This is a really fascinating look at Japanese lolita fashion culture. I wasn't very familiar with lolita before reading this. Lolita is a frilly, extremely labour-intensive style inspired by European women's fashion of the 18th and 19th centuries. It's presented as a self-focused style whose goal is to empower the wearer, which is sharply distinguished from styles which are meant to appeal to men or to society at large. The essays in this collection draw from historical research and with lolita p This is a really fascinating look at Japanese lolita fashion culture. I wasn't very familiar with lolita before reading this. Lolita is a frilly, extremely labour-intensive style inspired by European women's fashion of the 18th and 19th centuries. It's presented as a self-focused style whose goal is to empower the wearer, which is sharply distinguished from styles which are meant to appeal to men or to society at large. The essays in this collection draw from historical research and with lolita practitioners in Japan and the west in order to shed a light on the history of the style and what it means to its wearers. An Nguyen, one of the two authors, comes from a sociological background and her analysis is well-written and fascinating. The essays are interspersed with artwork and comics which bring a personal perspective to the topic. Jane Mai and An Nguyen's comics are a mixture of semi-fictionalized personal stories, fictional stories from the perspectives of western lolitas, and fictionalized depictions of the lives of some of the Japanese lolitas who were interviewed for this project. It's an unusual approach for this kind of book, but it works extremely well. There is also a "lolita lookbook" at the beginning of the book which does a good job of providing a visual overview of lolita styles for readers who are unfamiliar. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who's interested in learning about this style and what it means to those who wear it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kassie

    "thinking back about it i had a lot of hangups relating to women, what it means to be a woman, and what it means to present yourself as a woman. this isn't to say i was very thorough in my reflection: as a teen i was a shitlord, as most teens are wont to be, and frustrated and angry all the time without really knowing really exactly why" - Jane Mai in the essay 'Good at Looking Good' This book rules, its the perfect mix of personal reflection and cultural criticism. There's so much here for peop "thinking back about it i had a lot of hangups relating to women, what it means to be a woman, and what it means to present yourself as a woman. this isn't to say i was very thorough in my reflection: as a teen i was a shitlord, as most teens are wont to be, and frustrated and angry all the time without really knowing really exactly why" - Jane Mai in the essay 'Good at Looking Good' This book rules, its the perfect mix of personal reflection and cultural criticism. There's so much here for people curious about lolita fashion at all levels of experience. There is enough explanation for un-indoctrinated, and enough niche for the fully immersed. The essay and interview with Novala Takemoto were particular highlights. And this is all before even talking about the comics!

  9. 5 out of 5

    grace

    Very informative, much better than blurbs in books about wacky Japanese things. As someone who knows a lot about lolita, I still learned things and either way it's very interesting. The comics were beautiful and touching. LUV IT Very informative, much better than blurbs in books about wacky Japanese things. As someone who knows a lot about lolita, I still learned things and either way it's very interesting. The comics were beautiful and touching. LUV IT

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tesni Rhys

    Resilience, smashing the patriarchy via going against mainstream beauty standards, dressing for yourself, sisterhood, community, nonconformity to gender roles, kindness towards yourself and others. These are some topics I picked up from reading this graphic novel. I really enjoyed it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Derek Royal

    The comics are nice, but the essays -- both Nguyen's and Mai's -- are what give this hybrid collection its impact. Thoughtful and clarifying. The comics are nice, but the essays -- both Nguyen's and Mai's -- are what give this hybrid collection its impact. Thoughtful and clarifying.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ashur

    I want to read more academic writings/drawings about Lolita and fashion culture in general from Mai! This book fills a void.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura Martin

    Above all this book is interesting to the outsider of Lolita culture. I'm not completely unaware of the fashion and movement within Japan and abroad, but some of the deeper concepts and psyche within Lolita was lost on the casual observer. Ideas that Lolita represents not only a move counter to the mainstream culture, but also acts as a sort of Peter Pan complex - as a way to hold onto girlhood and innocence (the young "shoujo" or cute "kawai") in a society that quickly demands those feminine ind Above all this book is interesting to the outsider of Lolita culture. I'm not completely unaware of the fashion and movement within Japan and abroad, but some of the deeper concepts and psyche within Lolita was lost on the casual observer. Ideas that Lolita represents not only a move counter to the mainstream culture, but also acts as a sort of Peter Pan complex - as a way to hold onto girlhood and innocence (the young "shoujo" or cute "kawai") in a society that quickly demands those feminine individuals to step into the role of womanhood and become the beautiful and alluring "otome." In this way, they reclaim their identity for themselves, rejecting performative beauty for the male gaze. The book touches lightly on more controversial subjects, like the idea that some men prefer this to objectify this identity, namely pedophiles inspired by the more western idea of a Lolita. But above all the book is less academic and more personal, including emotions in the form of prose interviews and in comic narratives. The transition from illustration to prose feels natural and flows well. The artwork, much like the fashion style, is cute, although more minimalist than it's be-frilled counterpart. An Nguyen's and Jen Mai's comics can sometimes be sickly sweet in their emotional content, stressing the need for one to be true to themselves. (Sometimes this female centric supportive girl power can come off as mildly gay - but never pays off, as it would be counter to the sexless movement which idealizes purity.) Standouts include the macabre "I Follow" by Jen Mai and the collaborative "Your and My Mistakes," the final comic closing the book. Overall, a well thought out anthology.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Helena

    This book is wonderful and so heart-warming and so endearing. For me, this book carries an atmosphere of the deeply indulgent yet nostalgic and comforting lolita-as-subculture lolita-as-meaningful-experience understanding of lolita as I have always seen it, but I can't seem to always find anymore. It investigates the meaning that lolita has held for its fans/proponents throughout its history, and examines what place this has in our society. It examines the role lolita can play in our lives. It does This book is wonderful and so heart-warming and so endearing. For me, this book carries an atmosphere of the deeply indulgent yet nostalgic and comforting lolita-as-subculture lolita-as-meaningful-experience understanding of lolita as I have always seen it, but I can't seem to always find anymore. It investigates the meaning that lolita has held for its fans/proponents throughout its history, and examines what place this has in our society. It examines the role lolita can play in our lives. It does all this naturally, without knocking you over the head with it. Overall, I felt like this carries the worldview Novala has always personified and evoked forward into this decade and in this language, without purposefully or intentionally doing so. Rather, this is simply a description of lolita by those who truly hold it naturally in their hearts in a similar place as it is held by Novala and in the hearts of his fans. Basically, rambling aside, it is perfect and it is lovely and I love it. The essays are so well-done, academically rigorous yet approachable for a layman fan. The comics are so endearing! The content is so heart-warming. I am so happy with it, and so inspired by it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    A mix of more comics than essays (mostly comics, and a few mostly outsourced essays), there were a few gems in the mix, particularly the final comic, but by and large the whole thing seemed very caught up in the "not like other girls" concept I see floating around a lot of Western fashion communities. I won't say it was disappointing, in fact I pretty much expected everything I saw, but it was a little tiring. Maybe that's not surprising, as many of the comics seemed to also be deeply personal, A mix of more comics than essays (mostly comics, and a few mostly outsourced essays), there were a few gems in the mix, particularly the final comic, but by and large the whole thing seemed very caught up in the "not like other girls" concept I see floating around a lot of Western fashion communities. I won't say it was disappointing, in fact I pretty much expected everything I saw, but it was a little tiring. Maybe that's not surprising, as many of the comics seemed to also be deeply personal, and delving into another person's psyche, whatever the circumstances, can be exhausting. Maybe if I were still heavily involved in Lolita, I would have gotten more out of this collection, but as it is, the attitudes with which the authors wrote comprise many of the reasons I left in the first place. On the upside, thanks to the size of the text and the majority simple comics contents, this is a very quick read, so if you're curious, I don't think anyone would lose anything by giving this a look-through.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Lettuce

    So Pretty/Very Rotten dives into the subject of lolita fashion and the importance of lolita fashion to so many people that choose to wear it. Accompanied with many beautiful illustrations drawn by Jane Mai, So Pretty/Very Rotten provides readers that wear lolita fashion (and those that do not wear it) themes of femininity, empowerment and social standpoints on those that choose to diverge from "normal" fashion. The book also provides information on different types of sub genres on the style for So Pretty/Very Rotten dives into the subject of lolita fashion and the importance of lolita fashion to so many people that choose to wear it. Accompanied with many beautiful illustrations drawn by Jane Mai, So Pretty/Very Rotten provides readers that wear lolita fashion (and those that do not wear it) themes of femininity, empowerment and social standpoints on those that choose to diverge from "normal" fashion. The book also provides information on different types of sub genres on the style for those that are interested in the fashion. I strongly recommend this book to those that are interested in the fashion, those that wear lolita, those that have no clue about what lolita fashion is, and even those that don’t even really like lolita. The book offers many empowering views on the fashion subculture and its effects on so many people that choose to wear all of frills, bonnets, ribbons and parasols. Perhaps it may inspire others to start dressing up in lolita fashion or perhaps it may even change someone’s views on the idea of alternative fashion.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Erryn

    I originally read this shortly after it's release and when I was newer to the fashion - i enjoyed it but thought it was bit lackluster at times. During my second reading I was more establish in the fashion and I felt emotionally naked as if the authors could read my soul. As someone who considers themselves to dress daily in otome fashion, this book addressed feelings and thoughts of my own which were not fully formed until after the reading. I leave having a better appreciation and love for a I originally read this shortly after it's release and when I was newer to the fashion - i enjoyed it but thought it was bit lackluster at times. During my second reading I was more establish in the fashion and I felt emotionally naked as if the authors could read my soul. As someone who considers themselves to dress daily in otome fashion, this book addressed feelings and thoughts of my own which were not fully formed until after the reading. I leave having a better appreciation and love for a fashion and myself. So pretty / very rotten captures the duplicitous nature of Lolita fashion without coming off as xenophobic, otaku, or judgmental - which after reading a ton of literature on lolita fashion, is hard to do. For those outside, new, or casual to the fashion there are some good discussions to be had on feminity and aesthetics but I can say confidently that I didn't fully love this book until I spent years actively dressing in the fashion - luckily it's a quick read and if your curious it's a good primer on those who dress in the fashion.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Hupp

    I really enjoyed this as a relative outsider (follow a few Tokyo street photography Tumblrs; aware of Kamikaze Girls but not its original author; put Fruits on my Amazon wishlist in 2002 but never bothered to pick it up). Aside from a few organizational quibbles- I wish the citations were in a more academic format for quick reference, and that Mai's illustrated glossary of garments were located earlier in the book rather than immediately after a segment that had me wondering what a "JSK" was- bu I really enjoyed this as a relative outsider (follow a few Tokyo street photography Tumblrs; aware of Kamikaze Girls but not its original author; put Fruits on my Amazon wishlist in 2002 but never bothered to pick it up). Aside from a few organizational quibbles- I wish the citations were in a more academic format for quick reference, and that Mai's illustrated glossary of garments were located earlier in the book rather than immediately after a segment that had me wondering what a "JSK" was- but most of those book down to wanting a more extensive academic treatment, which can be found in Nguyen's journal articles, or color photography, which is well outside the scope of this book and easily available elsewhere. For what it actually *is*- a hybrid of academic writing, personal experience and fiction, a format well served by comics as a medium- it's fantastic.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Garlic_toast

    As someone who used to wear lolita a lot some years ago and still loves the esthetic's, this book was both a lot of fun and interesting. Thought there are two things that would have made it even better in my opinion: 1. I would have loved some more essays. All of the, were insightful and reminded me of all the things I love about the fashion and how much fun I had with it, while also bringing up some interesting points I hadn't thought about. More of this would have been lovely, which also brings As someone who used to wear lolita a lot some years ago and still loves the esthetic's, this book was both a lot of fun and interesting. Thought there are two things that would have made it even better in my opinion: 1. I would have loved some more essays. All of the, were insightful and reminded me of all the things I love about the fashion and how much fun I had with it, while also bringing up some interesting points I hadn't thought about. More of this would have been lovely, which also brings me to the other point: 2. While it was clear from the beginning, that this is a book featuring the view of only two authors (plus the essay by Takemoto), I would have loved to hear more voices on the topic. Neither of these things made me enjoy the book any less, I will definitely re-read it from time to time!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    Though I have known of lolita, worn it, and read about it for a few years now, I learned a lot from the essays in this book. I really appreciated the ones that discussed the connection between lolita and the underground music scene. I also really enjoyed the comparisons between Japanese and Western lolitas. The list goes on. The comics were great, and a welcome mental break from the more academic nature of these essays. (The art is also really cute!!) I felt that I related more emotionally to th Though I have known of lolita, worn it, and read about it for a few years now, I learned a lot from the essays in this book. I really appreciated the ones that discussed the connection between lolita and the underground music scene. I also really enjoyed the comparisons between Japanese and Western lolitas. The list goes on. The comics were great, and a welcome mental break from the more academic nature of these essays. (The art is also really cute!!) I felt that I related more emotionally to the comics, and the final comic in the book was particularly bittersweet, making me sad that it was over. The only reason I give this a four instead of a five is because I expected this to be a much lighter/feel good read than it was, but it's still a phenomenal book. I definitely need to read this again.

  21. 5 out of 5

    The Bibliopossum

    Very likely the only academically written book/graphic novel hybrid that I've seen that covers Lolita fashion and culture, and it approaches the subject with a newcomer's eye while gradually transitioning to more specific subjects. The comics do tie in to a point, but some of them became less anecdotal and more symbolic of personal sacrifice some members of this niche community will give in order to pursue the fashion they love. Expect grim outcomes in these fictional tales. Personally, I'm a fan Very likely the only academically written book/graphic novel hybrid that I've seen that covers Lolita fashion and culture, and it approaches the subject with a newcomer's eye while gradually transitioning to more specific subjects. The comics do tie in to a point, but some of them became less anecdotal and more symbolic of personal sacrifice some members of this niche community will give in order to pursue the fashion they love. Expect grim outcomes in these fictional tales. Personally, I'm a fan of classic and country lolita styles since they prioritize elegance over cuteness. The designs are more conservative compared to the lace and accessories that adorn the other doll-like dresses. There's a different flavor of style for different consumers. So if you're interested in learning more about lolita fashion, check this book out!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    I enjoyed this book a great deal and read through it voraciously. The comics are funny and tragic, the essays academic. This is a great primer for anyone interested in subculture, Lolita fashion, fashion as rebellion, femme positive spaces, or someone who is just a little curious about those fluffy girls that they see at anime conventions. It did not present me with new ideas, but as I had been involved in the fashion for over 10 years, that's not terribly surprising. This would be an excellent I enjoyed this book a great deal and read through it voraciously. The comics are funny and tragic, the essays academic. This is a great primer for anyone interested in subculture, Lolita fashion, fashion as rebellion, femme positive spaces, or someone who is just a little curious about those fluffy girls that they see at anime conventions. It did not present me with new ideas, but as I had been involved in the fashion for over 10 years, that's not terribly surprising. This would be an excellent companion piece to Kamikaze Girls for new lolitas though. The writing was good, the comics were delightful, and it was a treat to read some pieces by Novala Takemoto because it's been ages since he was published in anything! I'm looking forward to reading more by both authors in the future.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bunbun

    The last comic got me so hard with the feels. It was so good. *sob sob* This was a great book filled with personal feelings, pretty artwork, interesting light academic essays on Japanese sub-fashions (mainly, of course, Lolita) and all the other Japanese culture/aesthetics that flow in and out of such a niche, princess-y fashion. It was really good. I highly recommend it, for those in the fashion or those who are curious about it. It's a good place to start in understanding it and the feels/empo The last comic got me so hard with the feels. It was so good. *sob sob* This was a great book filled with personal feelings, pretty artwork, interesting light academic essays on Japanese sub-fashions (mainly, of course, Lolita) and all the other Japanese culture/aesthetics that flow in and out of such a niche, princess-y fashion. It was really good. I highly recommend it, for those in the fashion or those who are curious about it. It's a good place to start in understanding it and the feels/empowerment that comes from it, to girls and women alike. A quick, lovely, and emotional read for sure.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Odette

    I really love this book! I pretty much devour non-fiction fashion/fashion history/street fashion books especially when they are related to a subculture. This book was mix of comics, drawings, and essays on the origins and ideas behind Lolita fashion. There's even a section of the book that illustrates the different types of Lolita within the subculture. Pick it up if you're interested in street fashion, subcultures, Japanese street fashion, or like looking at cute illustration of girls in frilly I really love this book! I pretty much devour non-fiction fashion/fashion history/street fashion books especially when they are related to a subculture. This book was mix of comics, drawings, and essays on the origins and ideas behind Lolita fashion. There's even a section of the book that illustrates the different types of Lolita within the subculture. Pick it up if you're interested in street fashion, subcultures, Japanese street fashion, or like looking at cute illustration of girls in frilly dresses. I was able to request this book from the library but I will definitely be adding this to my permanent collection!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    Excellent introduction to Japanese lolita street fashion, loaded with interesting essays and fantastic comics! The art style is rather "indie" which I think fits the work very well, although it may not appeal to all readers. Touches on both the external aspects of the fashion and also the underlying philosophy, exploring the contradictions of a subculture which is simultaneously a rebellion / rejection of social norms while also being deeply capitalistic, with its focus on material possessions a Excellent introduction to Japanese lolita street fashion, loaded with interesting essays and fantastic comics! The art style is rather "indie" which I think fits the work very well, although it may not appeal to all readers. Touches on both the external aspects of the fashion and also the underlying philosophy, exploring the contradictions of a subculture which is simultaneously a rebellion / rejection of social norms while also being deeply capitalistic, with its focus on material possessions as a means of self-expression.

  26. 4 out of 5

    ashes ➷

    Absolutely incredible read, whether you're new to Lolita entirely or are incredibly into it. The book looks at perspectives of both American and Japanese lolitas, and the combination of essays and comics was absolutely perfect to get all of its different messages across. I honestly have not a single critique; looks like I'd better keep reading! Any recommendations similar to this book (information on lolita fashion, particularly the culture, related in an exciting form) gladly accepted. [tws (vie Absolutely incredible read, whether you're new to Lolita entirely or are incredibly into it. The book looks at perspectives of both American and Japanese lolitas, and the combination of essays and comics was absolutely perfect to get all of its different messages across. I honestly have not a single critique; looks like I'd better keep reading! Any recommendations similar to this book (information on lolita fashion, particularly the culture, related in an exciting form) gladly accepted. [tws (view spoiler)[for some mild illustrated gore; it's very cutesy (hide spoiler)] ]

  27. 5 out of 5

    Opal Wood

    An excellent book on lolita fashion and the history and how to dress. I loved the interviews, especially. I've used this as a source in a couple of research papers. It's really an excellent resource and I'd love more resource books on lolita fashion and how it changes over the years. The comics I could mostly take or leave but a few did enhance the essay portion, shining light on the feeling of community and self confidence derived from the fashion. An excellent book on lolita fashion and the history and how to dress. I loved the interviews, especially. I've used this as a source in a couple of research papers. It's really an excellent resource and I'd love more resource books on lolita fashion and how it changes over the years. The comics I could mostly take or leave but a few did enhance the essay portion, shining light on the feeling of community and self confidence derived from the fashion.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emily Joy

    This is a wonderful overview of lolita as an alternative fashion, why people wear it, and why it's important. Both academic and fun, this is a quick and easy in-depth look at a very cool fashion. "Lolitas dress for themselves. It is clothing that reminds us that not everything has to do with trying to attract or please men." "Don't you think there's a kind of power in announcing so plainly the things you like? I am here! Taking up space with my four petticoats." This is a wonderful overview of lolita as an alternative fashion, why people wear it, and why it's important. Both academic and fun, this is a quick and easy in-depth look at a very cool fashion. "Lolitas dress for themselves. It is clothing that reminds us that not everything has to do with trying to attract or please men." "Don't you think there's a kind of power in announcing so plainly the things you like? I am here! Taking up space with my four petticoats."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sinistre

    SO PRETTY (Things I like) - Novala Takemoto's interview - The comic about the girl who dies for dressing lolita 24/7 - The comic about the newcomer and the shade into lolita comm. - Kamikaze Girls vibes VERY ROTTEN (things I didn't like). - Some contradictions (Otome don't exist but then is placed in the 90s, "otome"/romantic/protololita is not defined very much, Olive gals/CUTiE called lolita...) - One comic which is dress-oriented, these kind of talking I hate in lolita meetings. SO PRETTY (Things I like) - Novala Takemoto's interview - The comic about the girl who dies for dressing lolita 24/7 - The comic about the newcomer and the shade into lolita comm. - Kamikaze Girls vibes VERY ROTTEN (things I didn't like). - Some contradictions (Otome don't exist but then is placed in the 90s, "otome"/romantic/protololita is not defined very much, Olive gals/CUTiE called lolita...) - One comic which is dress-oriented, these kind of talking I hate in lolita meetings.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

    Gives an interesting perspective of Lolita Fashion from an insider's point of view. There is a lot of information jam-packed into this book and some really good comics as well! If you are even remotely interested in Japanese Street Fashion you should check out this book! Gives an interesting perspective of Lolita Fashion from an insider's point of view. There is a lot of information jam-packed into this book and some really good comics as well! If you are even remotely interested in Japanese Street Fashion you should check out this book!

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