Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World
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In recent years, otaku culture has emerged as one of Japan’s major cultural exports and as a genuinely transnational phenomenon. This timely volume investigates how this once marginalized popular culture has come to play a major role in Japan’s identity at home and abroad. In the American context, the word otaku is best translated as “geek”—an ardent fan with highly specialized knowledge and interests. But it is associated especially with fans of specific Japan-based cultural genres, including anime, manga, and video games. Most important of all, as this collection shows, is the way otaku culture represents a newly participatory fan culture in which fans not only organize around niche interests but produce and distribute their own media content. In this collection of essays, Japanese and American scholars offer richly detailed descriptions of how this once stigmatized Japanese youth culture created its own alternative markets and cultural products such as fan fiction, comics, costumes, and remixes, becoming a major international force that can challenge the dominance of commercial media. By exploring the rich variety of otaku culture from multiple perspectives, this groundbreaking collection provides fascinating insights into the present and future of cultural production and distribution in the digital age.
1983. Otaku no kenkyu 1. Manga Burikko (June), www.burikko.net/ people/otaku01.html (retrieved January 11, 2011). Alt, Matt, trans. 2008. What kind of otaku are you? Néojaponisme, http://neojaponisme.com/2008/04/02/what-kind-of -otaku-are-you (retrieved January 14, 2011). Napier, Susan J. 2000. Anime: From Akira to Princess Mononoke. New York: Palgrave. ———. 2007. From impressionism to anime: Japan as fantasy and fan cult in the mind of the West. New York: Palgrave MacMilan. Okada, Toshio. 1996.
the transition from a production-centric society to a consumption-centric one. In other words, this period signaled the advent of postindustrial society (Bell 1973) and consumer society (Baudrillard 1970). For rail, this shift marked the beginning of true decline, the passing of the postwar era of rebuilding, inflation, and economic growth. For youth, these changes meant that their imaginations began to lose direction. The term “low growth” indicated a lack of spatial expansion as well as a loss
choose fiction over social reality not because they cannot distinguish between them but rather as a result of having considered which is the more effective for their human relations, the value standards of social reality or those of fiction. For example, they choose fiction because it is more effective for smoothing out the process of communication between friends, reading the Asahi Newspaper and then going to vote, or lining up with anime magazines in hand for an exhibition. And, to that extent,
increasingly non-Japanese fans and makers who are defining what it means to be an otaku and a fan of Japanese popular culture. UNDERSTANDING OTAKU CULTURE The essays that follow draw from both Japan- and U.S.-centered scholarship to explore three shared dimensions of otaku culture: its discursive and cultural logics, the infrastructures of communication and media distribution, and the structures of community and community membership. The organization of the volume embodies an argument about
Akihabara’s main avenue (see Figure 6.6). It has recently even become common to see female anime and game characters in special advertisements embedded in the floor in the front of the train station’s ticket gates. Such images have spilled over from the stores on the main avenue, infiltrating even the floor of the extremely public space of the station (see Figure 6.7). Figure 6.6. Game shops on Chuo-dori (Main Street). Credit: Kaichiro Morikawa. Figure 6.7. Advertisement for a pornographic