Manga – #girlsonfilm

In #girlsonfilm, Features, HOME by Hannah Oliver

#girlsonfilm is a feature in which Prancing Through LIFE’s very own FILM, THEATRE & TELEVISION Editor, Hannah Oliver, recreates famous cinematic scenes in real life and then writes about them. The idea being to discover what happens when the fantasy of film is brought down to the reality of everyday life. That and to get the chance to act like a bit of a noob.

Girls on FilmI went into this one with my eyes wide open (clearly, pun intended). The world has an interesting relationship with animé, the Japanese illustration style that, when placed within the context of comicbook-esque storylines, becomes “manga”: literally, the ‘cartooning’ of the humanoid. These doll-like, fast-talking creatures that speak, dance, fight, prance just like us, are the product of centuries of a finite study of human beauty, harmony and interaction. Having been appropriated in the last fifty years or so by a booming comicbook publishing industry, manga is perhaps the prime example of a genre of art with the ability to move with the times.

fghjYet despite all this, it remains firmly within the realm of the utterly surreal. With the subjects’ huge, glistening eyes, tiny waists and petite frames, the progression of this artwork has created a beauty that can only ever be alien to that of a human being. The study, it seems, has reverted itself: our ancestors tried to capture and refine the beauty they saw in themselves, and now Google, YouTube and Facebook will reveal the extent to which we now try to beautify ourselves via the manga framework. Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance music video is perhaps the most obvious, while the Harajuku fashion trend holds roots in the same place, and various ‘the human manga/animé-girl’ news stories are circulating constantly.

Now would be prime-time to claim that, in identifying said reversion, I decided to experiment in good old Croydon-town with the reactions of the public to manga-sized features upon a “normal”-sized face, and report back on the actuality of those disproportionate eyes as ‘beautiful’ or not. In reality, I have no excuse for the occurrence except artsy friends, sugary foods and a free afternoon. It were fun, yo.

Inevitable selfies occurred with other freshly-painted friends, and a plan was hatched by Andrea and I to crash the kitchen of his wonderfully dramatic Italian mother to gauge a proper reaction. She shrieked, slightly, at the sight of my big blue eyes (not a sentence I ever thought I’d say) and, in a nutshell, proclaimed she much preferred my brown and small-eyed self. Over all else, the sight of this elevated and artistic form of life scares people. Horrific, rather than beautiful.

What have we learnt from film-life this week? Animé is computerised or hand-drawn because it is not compatible with the real world. True to art, then, I suppose. But a fabulous form of ‘perfection’ to scare any theatrical Italian lady.


Hannah Oliver

Hannah Oliver is the Editor of FILM, THEATRE & TELEVISION at PTL. She studies English Literature at the University of Edinburgh and would like to think that this is an apt excuse for her tendency to be overly florid, pleonastic and long-winded.  However, there are two things to effectively shut her up – coffee and/or chocolate. ’Nuff said.

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