I’ve been exposed to a lot of anime and manga over the past year, and it’s slowly dawning on me how much doll lore there is. Not that this is terribly surprising coming from a culture that celebrates dolls once a year (March 3, in case you’re curious).
In pretty much every case, the doll is either someone trapped inside a doll or a doll that has been enchanted with life.
This is by no means a Japanese singularity. A few years ago, I played computer games involving a rather mean-spirited man named Stauf whose dolls killed their owners and his toys were usually deadly puzzles that required solving to completely solve the game.
Then there’s the story that became a ballet that I’ve spent far too many years dancing in or watching. If you ever want to watch someone’s head spin, just hand them a copy of the original story that is the basis for the Christmas ballet The Nutcracker. Drosselmeyer was not a kindly old man. He was a crazy toymaker whose toys were not entirely child-friendly.
I’ve collected dolls of all sorts most of my life. I have my Bisque doll (whose fingers I broke off as a baby), plus another Bisque-style doll that was made for me. I have a fair number of the collectible Barbies. I also have a small, yet impressive collection of culture dolls (dolls from a country wearing traditional costume for that country). I don’t think I’ve ever expected these dolls to turn on me or to hold a trapped soul or come to life when nobody is looking. I just collect them because they’re pretty or they represent something I enjoy.
This idea of the secret world and lives of dolls is really starting to intrigue me, though. I imagine that has a lot to do with my exposure to the topic. I fully expect to develop some writing pieces around this concept over the next few months while I think about the significance of this phenomenon.