Manga Make-Up Hits U.S.

It’s sadly rare that we have an occasion to talk about make-up on Sequart.

But then, it’s rare that a brand as big as l’Oréal Paris has a line named after comics.

Miss Manga mascara

The new line of mascara is called Miss Manga, and it emphasizes the extreme volume it’s able to add to eyelashes. It comes in three colors: black, turquoise, and violet. The violet looks pretty dark, but the turquoise is a very unnatural color that really stands out.

Of course, those of us who study manga are aware that this perpetuates stereotypes about Japanese comics — specifically that they’re all drawn in the same exaggerated style, with huge eyes and very young-looking girls. Publicity for the Miss Manga brand seems to emphasize this connection by including simplified artwork of females with spherical heads who look more like pandas than women.

It may also be seen as an attempt to capitalize on the growing popularity of manga and of cosplay, even if the mascara has relatively little to do with either.

While some will see Miss Manga mascara as cute fun, others may see the idea of women trying to make themselves look more like stereotypical manga drawings as a little weird, or even possibly creepy or objectifying. But this is old news to many: Japan’s sold cosmetics promising an “anime look” before, and the internet’s got plenty of posts about “real-life anime girls” — even if they didn’t produce their look through make-up explicitly designed for that purpose.

Miss Manga mascara’s been available in the U.K. for months, but it’s only recently come to the U.S., where TV ads are now airing. (I saw one last night on Cartoon Network.) Here’s an ad for the line that aired in the U.K.:

You can read more on the Miss Manga official site, which has lots of bells and whistles, including a tutorial about how to use the mascara to get that “manga look.” The site even uses the Japanese word “kawaii,” meaning cuteness and which has become strongly identified with Japanese culture in the West.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In 1996, while still an undergraduate, Dr. Julian Darius founded what would become Sequart Organization. After graduating magna cum laude from Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin), he obtained his M.A. in English, authoring a thesis on John Milton and utopianism. In 2002, he moved to Waikiki, teaching college while obtaining an M.A. in French (high honors) and a Ph.D. in English. In 2011, he founded Martian Lit, which publishes creative work, including his comic book Martian Comics. He currently lives in Illinois.

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