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ALICE IN WONDERLAND as metaphor for sexual awakening?
on October 4, 2002
I kept hearing about this anime from the all-female CLAMP manga collective, so I bought the DVD (which also includes MIYUKI-CHAN IN MIRRORLAND, or ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS). The limited story of both short films (actually just a series of strange events) is of a Japanese schoolgirl, Miyuki, who first disappears down an interdimensional "rabbit hole" along with a PLAYBOY bunny type "white rabbit", then meets a series of all-female characters in fetishy garb based on the characters in ALICE IN WONDERLAND. All these characters seem to want to fondle, kiss or sexually dominate Miyuki, who just gets embarrassed, runs off and falls into the next batch of supernatural lesbians who invite her to "come play with us". MIYUKI-CHAN IN MIRRORLAND repeats this trend - except here Miyuki is pulled through her bedroom mirror by a more sexually knowing version of herself, who touches her in an intimate (but non-explicit - so stop drooling, *Okatu-San*!) manner.
The entire tone of the first production is more cute-comical than menacing (even the whip-wielding Red Queen who restrains Miyuki with her bullwhip never actually flogs her), and Miyuki's greatest fear is being embarrassed by all this free-floating feminine touching and snuggling. The second has a bit more edge to it, as the chess game Miyuki plays with her mirror self has living female pieces who whip each other into (again, non-explicit) nudity, and the loser of the game has to strip (which mirror-Miyuki does willingly as our Miyuki looks really, REALLY embarrassed and tries to get her to stop, screaming "But I'm not married yet!" in the English - subtitled only - translation.) Even so, this is as far removed from hardcore BDSM tentacle *hentai* on the order of Maeda's UROTSUKIDOJI ("Overfiend") Saga or Pink Pineapple's ANGEL OF DARKNESS as an episode of Saturday morning's CARDCAPTORS (also created by CLAMP, incidentially).
Depending on which theory you read, Carroll's ALICE books are either a satire of British politics of the time, or a metaphor for a young girl's sexual awakening. CLAMP seems to have gone full-bore for this second interpretation in their story - all the characters except the easily-embarrassed Miyuki are dressed in a sexually provocative fashion, most make seductive advances towards her, and mirror-Miyuki in ...MIRRORLAND is not only willing, but eager to shed her Japanese schoolgirl outfit and stand proudly naked before her other self.
Complicating this, at least to a Western audience, is that all these characters appear to be cliche'd predatory lesbians; however, as Schodt pointed out in his book MANGA! MANGA!, men are often shown in Japanese popular culture as sexually brutal and beastly, whereas women (even sexually active ones) are seen as infinitely more gentle. To the Japanese female fans of CLAMP's work, even the whip-wielding Red (Bondage) Queen would be a gentler, safer introduction into the mysteries of adult sexuality than any man would have been. Miyuki might be embarrassed by all this sex, but she won't be terrified of it coming from other women.
This is the kind of short, slightly-kinky but clearly female-oriented *anime* that you might want to show to any women friends who are under the impression that "all those Japanese cartoons are nothing but S-M porno and big robots." (Though I'd like to know what's wrong with big robots, anyway.... Gekiganger - STRIKE! <g>)