Today’s post is a bit different to usual- no pictures! Instead, I’d like to write a little about Japanese animation, and tell you about a few examples you might like to watch.
Although Lolita fashion is somewhat associated with anime in the popular imagination of the West, it’s not always the case that Lolitas are particular fans of this media. Personally though, I am! Japanese animation covers a huge scope of subject matter, so I don’t think it can be so easily dismissed as something you’ll not like, even if the more well-known series don’t appeal. With this in mind, I’ve decided to compile a list of ten that might interest a Classic Lolita in particular. Some have historical themes, others are more mature examples of the shoujo genre, and most include a lot of roses. Whether you are new to anime or a long-time fan, I hope you’ll find something to suit you. Let’s begin!
1. The Rose of Versailles (1979)
A classic, and my personal all-time favourite! Versailles no Bara (BeruBara for short) tells the life story of both Marie Antoinette and of Oscar François de Jarjayes, a character created by the author (Riyoko Ikeda). Oscar, a young woman who was brought up as a man, becomes a high-ranking army officer and also a favourite of the French queen. It’s very romantic and affecting, and brings this famous period in history vividly to life. You are very likely to fall in love with Oscar, as many have. I also highly recommend the Rose of Versailles cosmetics line- I’ve been a devotee of the Oscar eyeliner for over three years!
2. Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo (2004)
Dumas’ epic of adventure and revenge is transported to a futuristic world that is half-period, half-science fiction. The innovative animation techniques used to create the decadent world inhabited by the Count and his fellow aristocrats are alone worth watching this series for. The beautiful design, intriguing plot and a soundtrack which includes Tchaikovsky and Debussy will I think appeal greatly to a Classic Lolita. I still need to read the giant novel itself!
3. Rozen Maiden (2004)
The story revolves around a set of elaborately dressed dolls (created by the toymaker Rozen) who duel one another in ‘Alice Games’. Although I feel this series to be sometimes lacking in sophistication, it has a sinister quality (enhanced by wonderful music from Ali Project) which gives it distinction.
4. Candy Candy (1976)
This series is the cutest I’ve ever watched! If you are fond of 19th century novels like Little Women, What Katy Did or Anne of Green Gables, you are sure to love this nostalgic anime, set around the same period. The Candy of the title is our heroine Candice White, a freckle-faced American orphan who often gets into scrapes but always tries her best.
5. Le Chevalier D’Eon (2006)
A wonderful combination of the historical and the supernatural, Chevalier is loosely based on the life story of the French nobleman and spy d’Éon de Beaumont. The real d’Éon claimed in later life that he was really a woman, and was given permission by Louis XVI to live as a member of the opposite sex (the king even gave him money for a whole new wardrobe- lucky d’Éon!). In the anime, he is possessed by his dead sister, who was killed in a plot that d’Éon and his fellow spies try to uncover. Another one for 18th century history fans!
6. Paradise Kiss (2005)
Ai Yazawa’s works are wonderful love letters to modern Japanese street fashion, and in this series great care was taken over the animation of the various characters’ outfits. And quite rightly so, as Paradise Kiss is all about the student members of an atelier and the directionless highschooler Yukari who ends up as their model and muse. Whereas all the other series in this list are escapist, this is a modern day series that I think any Lolita will find particularly relatable.
7. Black Butler (2008)
Set in Victorian England, this series follows the adventures of the young orphaned aristocrat Ciel Phantomhive, who makes a deal with a demon butler. The appeal of this series lies in it’s mix of real historical events (such as the Jack the Ripper murders and the Great Exhibition) with elements of horror, the supernatural, comedy, somewhat inappropriate sexual tension and a lot of fetching outfits.
8. Onii-sama e… (1991)
Another Riyoko Ikeda story, both the plot and the dresses in this series will make your otome heart flutter! Although the animation was made in the early 1990s, the manga began in the mid 1970s and the fashions seem to be quite of that period- think neo-Victorian ruffles, high collars and puff sleeves. The story is set at the exclusive Seiran Academy, and the plot focuses particularly on the politics of the school’s sorority. There’s a lot of heartbreak- storylines include incest, lesbianism, divorce, drug addiction and terminal illness. Watch it when you feel particularly feminine and tragic.
9. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)
I always find that Ghibli films are so lovely, it almost makes your heart hurt! This list didn’t seem right without one. I chose this Howl’s Moving Castle because of it’s beautiful setting, and because like Paradise Kiss, The Rose of Versailles and Candy Candy, it’s also the story of a young woman growing up. In this case the heroine, Sophie, grows up quite suddenly and dramatically into a 90-year old woman! Despite this setback she also manages to win the heart of the mysterious wizard Howl. The story seems to take place in a lovely European country during the early 20th century, filled with buildings both quaint and elegant, wonderfully stylish steam-powered vehicles, and very smartly dressed soldiers and sailors (well, there is a war on)….
10. Revolutionary Girl Utena (1997)
Another shoujo classic! After meeting one as a child, Utena Tenjou decides to live her life as a prince. At the Ohtori Academy she is unwittingly drawn into a duel over the Rose Bride (her fellow student Anthy Himemiya). The swordfight scenes are very elegant- to win one must cut the rose from one’s opponent’s jacket! You’ll enjoy the stories of school life, as well as discovering more about the legend of the Rose Bride. The shadow girls who act as a sort of Greek chorus and the imagery referencing Charles Rennie Mackintosh are also nice touches. It’s also a bit mad now and then, but that’s all part of the fun.
Well, that’s my grand list of ten. I could name many more that I love (Lupin III!), but I think these ones best fit the list. Dear reader, have you watched any of these? All of them? Have you any you can recommend to me? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks for reading,