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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Keroro Gunsô : carnivalization in Japanese anime Qiu, Huiyong


This thesis explores the playful world of Keroro Gunsô, a manga-turned-anime comedy that is immensely popular in millennium Japan and starting to gain popularity on a global scale. Drawing from a parody of Japan’s military aggression during World War Two, the anime plays with the public memory about Japan’s imperial past and the binary opposition between war and peace, invader and the invaded, and ultimately, patriarchy and matriarchy. This paper will examine the text of Keroro Gunsô as a symbolic site of what Mikhail Bakhtin called “carnival,” a discursive space for renewal, festivity and laughter freed from ordinary social restrictions and conformity. I would argue that Keroro Gunsô offers a playful fantasy for Japan’s “post-postwar memory” (as Carol Gluck calls it) to deal with social anxieties associated with Japan’s imperial past and its tragic defeat in the war. I will start my argument by looking at the increasingly significant role of carnival/festival anime in today’s global culture. Then, after a brief reading of the story of Keroro Gunsô, I will locate its text in the framework of “carnival” to examine its carnivalesque features: the attack against historical facts through parody as well as the reversal of Japan’s patriarchal hierarchy through the mobilization of its symbolic characters. Finally, I will examine how Keroro Gunsô embraces/celebrates Japan’s playfully weak, irresponsible, and ultimately, emasculated identity as a response to the social anxieties surrounding Japan’s defeat in World War Two. Through the alternate reading of this incredibly popular comedy, this paper attempts to explore a different side of Japanese society encapsulated in this carnivalesque anime behind its humor and festival laughter.

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