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'Shojo Beat' Kicks Off Summer Heat With Sweet

The Asian American Art Museum was froth and lace June 15 for VIZ Mediaís second anniversary of manga magazine Shojo Beat, published primarily for a female and older teen audience.

Editor-in-chief Marc Weidenbaum emceed as attendees pranced in hand-made frocks and platform Mary Janes. But there was at least one critic in the crowd.

"Otaku girls get it all wrong," lamented Victoria Wilson, 21, who flew from Oregon to catch the event. "They wear pieces here and there, but donít realize that this is actually a fashion. [Theyíll] use cheap lace, ill-fitting garments, and call it Lolita or mix in cosplay. Lolita is not a costume!"

Wilson should know: she sewed her own spring green dress by hand and is starting her own line of Lolita-inspired fashion called La Dauphine.

And sheís not the first. Shojo Beat has also been the launching site for Vivien Hoffpauir, principal designer of Vivcore and the magazineís s longest running advertiser since its inception two years ago as just a 'really good idea."

Since then, Shojo Beat has drawn editorial talents from the higher education publishing industry to Japanese business specialists and plain old anime enthusiasts.

"We use Shojo Beat to stay connected to the community," says Angelica Lyons, 18.

Manga is now a global phenomenon. Loosely translated as "a jumble of images," Shojo Manga is comprised of Japanese serialized comic strips. The content remains strictly Japanese in origin, and the editors admit that itís sometimes difficult to translate for an American audience.

"Thereís a thin line between keeping the original spirit and then considering your own feminist leanings," said editor Pancha Diaz. "Sometimes youíll see things that just make you go, ĎWhat"í Thatís never fly in reality!"

"In the end, the manga comes first," added editor Nancy Thistlethwaite. "Itís important to preserve the authorís original intent, even if itís not politically correct. We will, however, supply cultural notes, along with fashion tips, and whatever the readers would like to know about the characters."

Though shojo is traditionally aimed at a female audience, the magazine may be a sign that it has some crossover appeal. "I think itís really cool that a guy is in charge of Shojo Beat," said Jaquie McKillop, 14. "There arenít a lot of guys who are interested in the scene, but many of them have shorter hair or a ponytail. Theyíll wear vests and capris."

And what does Kamikaze Girls creator Novala Takemoto, the man who "set the blueprint" and "wrote the Gothic Lolita Bible" have to say about it all?

"I just wanted to comfort the world," he sighed to me at the end of the night.

Source: Asian Week

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