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The Othered Animation: Mari Okada’s Unlikely Career and Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms (Okada, 2018)

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

Publication date6/02/2022
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventInternational Conference on Film Studies: Identity and Otherness in Film - London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 5/02/20226/02/2022


ConferenceInternational Conference on Film Studies
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


This paper challenges the notion that anime is a monolithic mode of cinema by analysing the career and work of the often overlooked screenwriter and director Mari Okada. The paper begins by looking at her status as an ‘other’ in Japanese society as a female hikikomori (someone who withdraws entirely from society), before moving onto her early ‘low culture’ work writing pornography scenarios and television episodes. From these beginnings, she has become one of anime’s exceedingly few female ‘auteur’ figures. My primary case study, her feature directorial debut Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms, demonstrates both a commitment to depicting the experiences of young women through a personal lens, and the use of Europe as an otherworldly setting from a Japanese perspective. The latter is a common trope in anime that further twists the notion of what the ‘other’ means from different perspectives, especially in the context of Orientalism, and gives another layer of ‘otherness’ to Okada’s work. By investigating Okada’s career and interrogating what it means to be an anime ‘auteur’, this paper seeks to deconstruct both the prototypical figure of the auteur filmmaker as a white Western man who begins in a ‘high’ cultural context, and the treatment of anime as a monolithic mode with few acknowledged individual creators.