February 12, 2013

You can tell this anonymous Green Gables poacher wasn”€™t even trying to be amusing in a twisted, postmodern kind of way. That’s because the cover model is a blonde, and the whole point of Anne Shirley is her red hair, an instant signifier of her untamed personality and outsider status. She character calls her ginger locks her “€œlife long sorrow;”€ Anne’s chief tormentor (and future husband) Gilbert nicknames her “€œcarrots,”€ not “€œbananas”€”€”just before she smashes a writing slate over his head.

If you were going to go for a “€œSexy Anne of Green Gables”€ look, as either a cynical “€œcommentary”€ on something-or-other or just to hopefully move more units, you”€™d obviously keep her red plaits and maybe even her straw hat. You”€™d just shorten the dumpy dress to hit right below the butt and add a pair of those stay-up white stockings with the little bows on top.

You might even ask a harajuku girl to help you out. The kinderwhore look has been popular in Japan for generations, with human females striving to look as much like Hello Kitty dolls or anime characters as possible, often through the use of scary contact lenses and even plastic surgery.

(We really need more research on the long-term effects of radiation, m”€™kay?)

Believe it or not, though, Japan’s “€œLolita”€ problem isn”€™t the real fount of Anne’s popularity there.

Montgomery’s book was introduced into the country’s school curriculum in 1952 after a departing missionary left her beloved copy with a well-known Japanese author and translator. Anne embodied a blend of the familiar (an orphan who loves her island home’s idyllic natural beauty) with the exotic (her red hair, short temper, and lack of social graces). This winning combination assured Anne of Green Gables over fifty years of popularity in the Land of the Rising Sun. A 2010 Japanese film about the book’s “€œphilosophy”€ was a big hit, especially with “€œwomen in their 30s and 40s…who take to the film’s message of handing down the story of Anne from one generation to another.”€

When the Green Gables House in Charlottetown caught fire in 1997, Japanese fans raised millions of yen to restore it. PEI residents returned the favor by donating to relief efforts after the tsunami.

Anyway, I suppose this whole over thing could be worse. As Margaret Atwood complains of the original illustrations for Anne of Green Gables:

[E]veryone in them has a very small head…leading us to wonder about the degree of inbreeding that was going on around Avonlea.



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