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Ōshima Yumiko

Entry updated 29 October 2021. Tagged: Artist.

(1947-    ) Japanese comics artist whose influence in visual media greatly outstrips her relatively modest publishing output. With her debut with the non-genre "Paula no Namida" ["Paula's Tears"] (1968 Margaret), Ōshima became one of the pioneer female artists taking control of the girls' comics medium from the male creators who had previously dominated it (see Year 24 Group).

Joker e ["To the Joker"] (April 1973-September 1973 Bessatsu Shōjo Comic; graph 1973) took a step beyond her usual mysteries and romances, with a love-triangle complicated by the fact that one of the members has drunk a potion that permanently changes his sex (see Transgender SF). Her most enduring impact, however, came with Wata no Kuniboshi ["The Star of Cottonland"] (May 1978-March 1987 Comic LaLa; graph 1979-1988 7vols), a melancholy account of a lost kitten's attempts to return to the young man who rescued her as a stray. The story is told from the viewpoint of the cat, Chibi, who sincerely believes that there is a way for her to be transformed into a human girl (see Uplift). This quasi-religious obsession, ultimately rooted in Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio (1883), manifests itself in the artist's decision not to depict Chibi realistically, but as her own self-image: a human child with catlike ears. Such kemono-mimi ("animal ears"), originally indicative of Chibi's hopelessly romantic yearning to be something she is not, have become a trope in Manga and Anime, much imitated and referenced in subsequent works, and a common feature of Japanese costuming (see Fandom). [JonC]

Yumiko Ōshima

born Otawara, Tochigi, Japan: 31 August 1947

works (selected)

  • Joker e ["To the Joker"] (Tokyo: Flower Comics, 1973) [graph: pb/Yumiko Ōshima]
  • Wata no Kuniboshi ["Star of Cottonland"] (Tokyo: Hana to Yume Comics, 1979-1988) [graph: published in seven volumes: pb/Yumiko Ōshima]


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