Lolita vs. Gothic Lolita Characters

Lolita fashion (and in fact fashion in general) is one aspect of Japanese pop culture that I never really looked into. However, I’ve come to learn a lot about the culture, its fans, its philosophy, and the sheer range of styles available that fall under the umbrella of “Lolita fashion.” What once looked to be “large bows and frilly dresses” turns out to have a good deal of subtlety and expression.

One of my discoveries in this period has been about how there are many different types of Lolita fashion. Prince Lolita involves a more masculine appearance. Sweet Lolita aims for a more child-like look. There are other variations as well, but what I’ve come to wonder is why Gothic Lolita in particular captures the imagination of anime and other related industries. If there’s a Lolita character in anime, more often than not she’s Gothic.

Some readers might be asking, “What’s the difference?” In fact, before I started reading up on the subject I didn’t know that there was a distinction myself. “Aren’t all Lolitas also Gothic Lolitas as well?” If others fell under similar misconceptions, then it’s perhaps no wonder that the Gothic variety would be so much more prominent.

However, I think there’s another component to consider, which is the popularization of the chuunibyou personality trait. Consider many of the Gothic Lolita characters that appear in anime and manga, such as Kuroneko in My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute, Kanzaki Ranko in The iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls, or Yohane in Love Live! Sunshine!! More often than not, their dark, Victorian clothing is supposed to be an expression of the desire to come from some kind of otherworldly, magical place. Lolita fashion enthusiasts often love it as a way of presenting themselves to the world in a way that goes against expected norms, but this resistance can be easily understood. When paired with the idea of the chuunibyou character and their wish to be the reincarnation of Demon Lord Wingding III, it enters more the realm of comprehensible fantasy and not so much feminist criticism, which is a factor in Lolita fashion in part or in whole.

When people see Lolita, they’re often probably not viewing it from the same perspective as the wearers of Lolita Fashion themselves, bringing their own values (for better or for worse) to the meaning of Lolita fashion. Perhaps in a world full of chuunibyou stories, the Gothic Lolita, more than any other Lolita type, is the visual and personality type that can resonate with the greatest number of people unfamiliar with Lolita fashion, and the result is that Gothic Lolita reigns as an archetype over others.

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The Siesta Society Representative

I’ve been watching Chu-2-Byo demo Koi ga Shitai!, the latest TV series from Kyoto Animation, and it’s a fun show with a lively cast of characters which feels in some ways very similar to their previous work but which also has its own flair. The anime mainly revolves around the characters Yuuta and Rikka, former and current sufferers of “8th Grader Syndrome” (despite being in high school), that time in your life when you want so desperately to be special that you start to believe stories of destiny and paranormal ability, and in that respect the show does a good job of portraying that awkwardness. However, I find my favorite character to actually be Tsuyuri Kumin, their upperclassman and fellow club member with a penchant for napping.

While Kumin’s nonchalant mannerisms and meticulous planning and executions of the perfect siesta crack me up, what I find particularly appealing about her is the way she seems to look at the environment around her through her own perspective. Despite her being more of a side character in the story, I get the feeling that in, her own world, Tsuyuri Kumin is the main character. During the show, Rikka forms a club known as the “Far Eastern Magic Society,” a place where she can indulge in her fantastic delusions, but because they can’t get enough members they merge with the similarly underrepresented Nap Society headed by Kumin. For everyone else, the club is the place to play around and talk about dark magics, but for her it’s the Nap Society first and foremost, and she is the trailblazer for this fun and refreshing hobby/way of life. It makes me smile thinking that, to Kumin, all of the other members of the club are potential comrades in the art of napping and it’s up to Kumin as the wise counselor to teach them the joys of napping.