ゴスロリ [gosurori]

August 22, 2010 at 2:17 am (cosplay(コスプレ), doujin(同人), general, otaku word, Otome Road(乙女ロード))

from Shimotsuma Monogatari[下妻物語]

 Gothic Lolita is a kind of unique fashion style that originated  in 1980’s, and linked to shoujo manga, Japanese rock bands, fujoshi, or even cosplayers. We usually say ゴスロリ[gosurori], but actually it is an abbreviation of ゴシックロリータ[Gothic Lolita]. The symbol mark is †[daggar]. Sometimes it puzzles me. Is this English? Because some people frown upon me when I mention Gothic Lolita. Even among English speakers, Gothic Lolita is like an otakish word?

 Even if you haven’t heard of this fashion, it might ring a bell to you when you see it; a handsome dress features rococo or Victrian style and fabulous lace or frill. Leather boots and shoes with over knee socks(yes, makes 絶対領域[zettai ryouiki]). A headdress with a huge ribbon. Holding a big teddy bear or a huge lace parasol. Make-up is also important; blue or black lipsticks, fake eyelashes, loud mascara, color contacts, or even tattoo. This kind of fashion seems to embody destruction, aestheticism, darkness, heresy, death, or virginity.

 Gothic is a kind of European style in the Middle Ages, and inspired lots of art including architecture or literature. Having said that, Gothic Lolita was born in Japan, so it is not technically a fashion from Europe, but those symbolism I have mentioned still remain. Lolita is…you know, such an immature girl or to love such a girl(shoujo). We say ロリコン[lolicon] or ロリータコンプレックス[Lolita complex]. But, Gothic Lolita is a combination of Gothic and a shoujo, so it seems to be different from lolicon. All in all, Gothic Lolita would embody a fin-de-siecle(decadant) girl in the Middle Ages. Does it make sense?


 I am not familiar with Gothic Lolita, but to my surprise there are several variations in this style. For example, 黒ロリ[kuro loli] is to dress up in a black outfit, and 白ロリ[shiro loli] is to do so in a white outfit. 甘ロリ[ama loli] also known as sweet loli features pink stuff such as rose, strawberry or hearts. Looks like a princess. 和ゴス[wa-goth] is gothic with Japanese fashion(wearing kimono or that kind of thing). ダークゴス[dark goth] is more violent than 黒ロリ, like using eye-patches or bandages. Leather can be seen in Dark Goth, so well, Riku in Kingdom Hearts or most characters in Final Fantasy 7 could be called ダークゴス. Not really?

 Meanwhile there was quite a famous rock band in 1980’s,  that is AUTO-MOD. All of the members would dress up in such a gorgeous outfit with loud make-up. This kind of style got a lot of fangirls. At the concert hall, so many fangirls trying to copy their fashion, got together. Have you ever heard of Visual-kei[ビジュアル系]? Yes, it started around that time. Since AUTO-MOD got famous, some more Visual-kei rock bands such as BUCK-TICK, X-JAPAN, or LUNA SEA started to be famous as well. When I was a high school student, L’Arc~en~Ciel, SHAZNA, GLAY, or MALICE MIZER(Gackt worked as a vocalist) were quite popular. Those fangirls were called バンギャ[bangya]. I guess it is an abbreviation of バンドギャル[band gyaru], ギャル is a bit rude way to mean a young girl. Whereas I was not aware, Visual-kei became popular out of Japan 2000 onwards.  


 Gothic Lolita used to be a fashion style for girls, but it changed since Rozen Maiden came out in 2002. Because of this anime, Gothic Lolita started to be popular among otaku. Technically, Rozen Maiden is not really ゴスロリ although it quite looks like. Gothic style in shoujo manga actually has been popular for a long time. I can think of other shoujo manga like Angel Sanctuary. What about うみねこのなく頃に[Umi neko no naku koro ni]?

 In Europe, Gothic Lolita is very popular. Even though it was born in Japan, it is influenced by European style as I mentioned. Even that, it seemed to be Japanese style  for them. Before, I saw a TV-show in which a French girl tried Gothic Lolita because she was a big fan of Japan. She wanted to go out in Gothic fashion, but her mother stopped her in the end…To me, Gothic Lolita is kind of cosplay, but not really. Difficult to say. If you happen to be in Tokyo, go to Harajuku[原宿] or you will see a lot of Goth girls.   

 I have never been a fan of Gothic Lolita, but…I like the costumes. If I cosplay, I would do Kamui Gakupo in 刹月華[setsugetsuka]. I think this is 和ゴス[wa-goth]. Looks cool, don’t you think?



  1. Vashti said,

    Lolita fashion isn’t well-known outside English-speaking otaku circles. If you mention it to most people, they’ll think you mean lolicon. If you tell them you like it … well, it could get awkward. 🙂

    • bangin said,

      Okay, so it needs to be explained. I thought Gothic could help people understand, but not really.

      • alunde said,

        Someone at a American anime con suggested the style derived from Victorian doll clothes, which sounds believable.

        “Gothic” is not too informative, because it is an old word with a variety of meanings in various contexts. Searching Wikipedia gave 156 rather diverse pages with “Gothic” in the title.

        Presented with the phrase “Gothic Lolita”, an average US English speaker might think of the novel “Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov, European churches, or punk rock music: it’s hard to say what they would make of it.

        I think “Pita Ten”, but that’s because I’m an anime fan and have seen examples of the styles in question identified as such.

  2. azu-chan said,

    cute! XD i like gothic lolita.. but i dont think i’m brave to wear it… ^^;; people would thought i’m crazy if i wear that on public… but i really want to try wearing it one day… XD so one of my destination in japan( if i ever go to japan) will be harajuku to see the harajuku girls! XP\
    and get some visual kei stuff too.. X3

    • bangin said,

      You are a teenager, so you are quite young to try gosurori. But yes, you need to be brave! If you join the cosplay event, it is perfectly okay, though. lol
      In Harajuku, not only Goth girls, but other unique fashion you will see.

  3. thond said,

    I know it’s difficult to sort out the roots of this phenomenon, but as far as I know what you said about the development is correct. Also, thanks for giving a much more correct history of Visual kei than I’ve read on many fan sites.
    I would like to add that there are some more directions which influences for it’s development came from, though. Sure the otaku and VK part of the style’s history is no small one, but there’s also a huge lot of fashion context to it.

    Guess the style should rather be named ‘Lolita’, because that’s what it started from. Labels like Pink House had those incredibly frilly princess robes that didn’t have any kind of connection with today’s addition of goth. There still are a good amount of ‘classic lolita’ to date, people you most likely wouldn’t find anywhere near a VK concert but more likely at a classical one. Not meaning to stereotypize, just to give an image. Labels like Innocent World cater to them and I guess they are the more grown up kind of Lolita, compared to the youngsters who wear the style as something like cosplay.

    Goth and Punk touches were added in lateron, as you said, I’d suggest also listing the band 筋肉少女帯 (there are different romaji versions, so I’m sticking with kanji), as their leader Ootsuki Kenji was known to encourage fans to wear Lolita brands. He still appears in today’s Gothic & Lolita Bibles and the like. (Not commenting on his reasons to do so, though, I don’t know him well enough to judge what is being said by and about him.)

    Anyway, the general style still stays just Lolita in my opinion, even though the goth loli part is the one which made it more widely known via VK and – as you suggest – anime. Not saying all those parts collected here and in my comment are all that the style consists of, though. It’s something that’s really difficult to analyze.

    Sorry for the long comment, but as a fashion person more than an anime one, I got linked here and felt the need to add a bit. Just in case, no, I’m not wearing Lolita, I just happen to be interested in fashion and subculture. I don’t have much of a clue about anime though, I should start reading your blog for that. XD”

    • bangin said,

      Oh yes, Kin’niku shoujo tai(筋肉少女帯) you’re right, they are sure Visual-kei. I should have mentioned Seikimatsu. Ootsuki Kenji is popular among otaku for some reason. I guess maybe he performed some songs for anime or games.

      I am just a geek, so thank you for your explanation because I am not that familiar with fashion. Gothic Lolita is has a strong connection to otaku circles, so I made this entry. Thank you for your help!

  4. tasukihoneybunny said,

    is there a difference between “Goshiku” and “Gosurori”? The reason I ask is that I have this shirt from Megatoyko , http://www.megagear.com/product_p/2007.htm .
    In the description, they mention gothic lolita.

    • bangin said,

      I am sorry for my late response. I don’t think this T-shirt has anything to do with Gothic Lolita. It just says Gothic, I think.

      • tasukihoneybunny said,

        No worries. Thanks for replying. I was just curious after I read your post! :o)

  5. JELEINEN said,

    I wonder how much 70s glam influenced this fashion.

    • bangin said,

      In Japan, Vivienne Westwood started to be famous in ’70s. I think it might have influenced more or less.

  6. fancycars said,

    Yes! I support you cosplaying Gakupoid!

    It was hard to find Gakupoid cosplayers in AN, and so I was very disappointed ;-;

    • bangin said,

      Thank you, maybe I will in the future.
      AN? Where are you from?

      • fancycars said,

        AN = Anime North; I’m from Toronto.

  7. mochie said,

    Ah, that dress in the first picture – I have cosplayed it before – Momoko from Shimotsuma Monogatari.

    • bangin said,

      I think you go well with gothrori. This kind of fashion choose people!

  8. Pointer Men's Basketball said,

    You you should make changes to the post subject ゴスロリ [gosurori] Japanese words of anime fans, by anime fans, for anime fans to more suited for your content you write. I enjoyed the the writing yet.

  9. Mikaru said,

    hola yo tengo una gran pregunta ¿en el visual kei pueden existir mujeres que sean visual kei? en Chile esta existiendo una batalla con eso

    Hi I have a big question “in the visual kei may be women who are visual kei? in Chile is there a battle with it.

    favor de responder con urgencia para que acabe esta lucha.
    please respond urgently to end this fight.

    • bangin said,

      I don’t understand your question. What do you want to know?

  10. bangin said,

    alunde: Yes, Pitaten is a good example of gothloli. I thought Shugo Chara was too but it is like punk style, not gothloli.

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