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Japanese Neo-Victorian Fictions: Looking Back to the Victorian Age from Japan

Nakatsuma, Yui

Japan has seen an expansion not only in Japanese neo-Victorian anime and manga but also in novels that dramatise Victorian images by rereading late nineteenth-century London through the lens of modern Japan. Through an examination of three Japanese detective and gothic horror fictions set in Victorian London, Futaro Yamada’s ‘A Yellow Lodger’ (1953),  Soji Shimada’s Soseki and A Case of Mummies in London (1984), and Ryu Togo’s The Adventures of Kumagusu (2013), this article explores how and why these works enable readers to experience a re-vising of Japanese scholars’ and authors’ first encounters with Britain and the British Empire during the late nineteenth century, a time of opening up to the West and simultaneously a moment that galvanised Japan’s subsequent imperialism. A close-reading of the pre-existing fiction and historical contextualisation reveals distinctions between England and Japan and between past works and present pastiches. This paper will consider how these texts bind themselves to the afterimage of Britain and Japan in the late nineteenth century, which saw both nations emerge as economic and colonial powers.

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