Hailing the Subject: Visual Progression and Queer Reading in Nananan’s Blue
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Kiriko Nananan’s Blue (1997) invites an Althusserian reading in which the (hailed) subject of the (capitalist) State is incorporated into ideological institutions. Blue’s women characters are continuously hailed by their teachers or each other. The girls’ black-haired heads—round dense patches of ink—visually depict Blue’s subjects heeding their hail (turning to acknowledge a calling) while they also attempt resistance to incorporation diegetically—the girls aspire to more than marriage and domesticity. Eventually, the protagonists accept that they cannot refuse State interpolation. Nananan’s accompanying diegetic drag—the visual encumbrance of numerous inked heads—is an imagistic resignation to this subjectification. Pitting the visual representation of the girls’ acquiescence to the hail against the consistently interrupted narrative creates a productive tension between image and narrative pacing.
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