The problem with Ganguro in My Dress-Up Darling

My darling in disguise! is one of the standout slice-of-life and romance titles of the winter 2022 season, and has garnered a lot of positive attention for its story about cosplay-loving anime fans. It’s been a fun and refreshing show that follows a long line of romantic anime with an unassuming main character and a manic, pixie dream girl heroine, but the show pushes some serious boundaries in one of its latest episodes!

In episode 11 of My darling in disguise!Marin wants to dress up as a sharp-toothed thief from one of her favorite shows; however, the character has much darker skin than Marin, which poses a cosplay challenge. Marin; who wants to be as close as possible to a real-life representation of a character, ponders how to overcome the obvious deviation from the character that his lighter skin poses, but the way he does it falls into a well-known problem ; black face.


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“Blackface” is a term used to refer to the use of dark makeup to mimic the appearance of black people, but has also been used more recently to refer to makeup used to mimic the appearance of darker-skinned people. usually. It has a history in minstrelsy, which has roots in 19th-century America as a form of racist entertainment. These racist depictions of black people often featured dark skin and exaggerated facial features, such as thick pink lips and flared noses.

What Kitagawa Marin did in episode 11 of My darling in disguise! it is known in Japan as “ganguro”, a form of dark or tan makeup that was also often combined with flashy accessories and fashion to complete the aesthetic that many fans and Japanese people know as “gyaru”.


Veronica, my darling in disguise

“Gyaru” is simply a Japanese pronunciation of the word “gal” and, in context, refers to a particular counterculture in 1990s Japan in which proponents would draw inspiration from the gritty, punky aesthetic. There are various subcultures that fall under “gyaru”, and part of the philosophy of the gyaru aesthetic was the adoption of various “generally unattractive” components with the intention of creating heightened beauty. The rough, loud, boorish gyaru archetype was the polar opposite of the epitome of the ideal Japanese woman, the Yamato Nadeshiko, and was therefore also a modern mode, though perhaps also a subversion of Japanese femininity.

One of the main ideas behind the gyaru archetype is the subversion of beauty standards for Japanese women, standards in which lighter, lighter skin is favored. The problem is that the inherent belief of the quintessential ganguro gyaru is that darker skin is, in fact, not that beautiful, which is evident through their use of darker skin as a tool in their subversion of this standard of beauty. First of all.

Gyaru characters are prevalent in anime, both inside and outside the ganguro, and are representative of a genuine culture that exists to some degree; however, ganguro characters have often been mistaken for darker-skinned or black people. Characters like Food Wars! ikumi Myth Character, Don’t make fun of me, Miss Nagatoro! titular character, Nagatoro Hayase and also fire force The character of Princess Hibana are all representations of the ganguro gyaru, with a heightened sense of fashion, a level of sexual undertones that permeates their own personalities, and dark skin, all commonly misunderstood as black people, but their skin color is generally related to tanning, which one? she would think it’s benign.

My Dress-Up Darling Marin ganguro

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Among black anime and manga fans, particularly black cosplayers, there have been significant feelings about the level of racism they are subjected to by other fans. This is prevalent in the anime and manga community, in games, and in various circles of so-called “nerd” and “otaku” culture. Black cosplayers are told that they can’t cosplay anime and video game characters because most of them aren’t black. This myopic view of what cosplay should be and what is “accuracy” with respect to representation is important because while black cosplayers are told they can’t, white cosplayers do pretty much every popular character in the movies. media, regardless of race or complexion.

Marin and Gojo’s actions in episode 11 of My darling in disguise! it just serves to promote the idea that to cosplay, you owe people “racial accuracy” in addition to the various visual markers that help identify a character. Instead of simply going so far as to assume the character’s costume and demeanor, something that would have made her identifiable as that character despite the differences in her skin color, Marin chooses to have her face painted black. The former would have been an interesting foray into how cosplayers who don’t necessarily look like her favorite characters can still enjoy portraying them and create amazing cosplays regardless of identity differences.

Unfortunately, one of the main flaws of My darling in disguise! it’s the fact that characters continually emphasize that cosplay is about love for the character, but also largely about whether you have the physical appearance to cosplay a certain fictional character to begin with. This seems confusing, as the series is often based on the sentiment that one doesn’t have to be any type of person to unashamedly enjoy the things one enjoys, but features characters who avoid certain cosplays because they aren’t the “correct” identity. “. for it. All of these factors add to the particularly harmful environment that cosplayers experience, but also lead us into the territory of questioning aspects of the culture that we keep going back to and evaluating if these things are really as benign as we think.

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