Cross-pollination of domestic rituals through modern visual culture exchange (6)

1 Name: Random Anime Otaku 2005-07-25 18:53 ID:wIBGUrWq

With the increasing popularity of anime and manga, especially in the younger generation, I sometimes wonder if people are picking up on the traditions and cliches seen in it in the same way some fans spout random Japanese words. I'm out of high school myself, so I can't make any direct observations. It would be interesting to know if somewhere there are teenagers planning dramatic love confessions or fangirls giving guys chocolate on valentine's day.

2 Name: MJP 2005-07-29 04:23 ID:Heaven

I would like to know the same. I've been sort of charting this practice ever since I really got into anime in mid-200ish. I think that, sociologically speaking, those practices wouldn't cross over on a cultural level amongst American anime fans.

For one thing, the language we speak is a construct of expressions that come from many different sources. The sentence I just wrote has roots in Greek, Latin, Germanic, and Hebraic linguistics. Phrases like "baka" and other Japanese idiomatic terms might cross over into the vernacular, but into the language? That's another story.

Cultural practices are a whole other matter. Over time, cultural practices can make their way into the shared experience of a nation, a people, etc. They have to happen on such a scale as to create a long-term, lasting effect on the culture around them to be adopted. In terms of American otaku, there's an air of uniqueness to the Japanese aspects of anime that are absorbed, and with the level of most otaku, they're abosorbed without knowing the significance, origin, or meaning of the act within its originating culture. How many fangirls can tell you about how Valentine's Day was co-opted by manufacturing conglomerates in Japan to promote domestic chocolate production and consumption? How many can then tell you how White Day was created (Like a "Hallmark holiday") to encourage further development? Also, given the nature of the submissive female in Japanese culture, such practices probably wouldn't cross over as well in the US.

I think that the culture will spread and intensify within otaku. What will be interesting is the next five, ten, fifteen years. These young otaku are going to grow up under the influence of manga and anime. All these teenage girls who don't give a crap about gay rights will realize, once they get to college, that yaoi isn't some abstract idea. It's a form of human attraction. What will that do to gay rights?

I think that otaku will adapt the Japanese cultural practices and morals into their own life. I myself took on a lot of determination and impression of how I could change my own life, as well as other positive messages, from anime that I watched from 2001 to the present. We won't see direct influences, but if a sociologist were to start studying otaku now and tracking samples, there'd be a very, very interesting book or paper there.

3 Name: MJP 2005-07-30 03:45 ID:Heaven

Wait a tick, isn't the title of this topic the same as an episode title of Genshiken? :-P

4 Name: Alexander!DxY0NCwFJg!!muklVGqN 2005-07-30 12:34 ID:Heaven

>but if a sociologist were to start studying otaku now and tracking samples, there'd be a very, very interesting book or paper there.

I'm a sociology student, and I've considered studying otaku for my Master's stuff.

However, I'm in Finland and it would be a limited thing that would be more about nerds in general, but still otaku. ; )

5 Name: Random Anime Otaku 2005-07-30 15:55 ID:2ZwtMcFM

There have been quite a few, methinks. Especially if you count the various anime series about the various subcultures [Otaku No Video, Cosplay Complex]. See: [good links to articles, including one by William Gibson (!)]

and for a more 'acedemic' study...

And that's all from the Wikipedia otaku article's 'see also' section!

re: awareness of socio-political issues gained via anime/manga, I must say I hope that doesn't happen! I'm all for self-realisation and political awareness, but if the expansion of otakuism means more people get their views/facts/pet issues from anime- and manga-based media, that would be tragic. In cases of otaku-esque isolation, I see people being exclusivel in one group, thus gaining a skewed view of issues, people and emotions. Whether it's shonen-ai or Chobits, popular anime is about exaggerations - a large number of homosexuals aren't hairless, skinny boys; women aren't utterly submissive. If otakuism intensifies within the younger set, there may very well be a lot of odd ideas about. Plus, I think anime/manga can simply be a gateway to Japanese morals, aesthetics, etc. Personally, I progressed from manga > Japanese culture > Mishima in terms of interests. Which one made me think the most? Which one piqued my interests in emotional issues? Which one made me seek an understanding of a person and culture? Mishima, of course! And I can only hope a similar progression will take place, and we'll see fewer ignorant Japanophiles, fewer people introduced to gay/lesbian rights through pornography...

End rant ^^; exhales

I guess I just saw your paragraph on the ignorance of Western otaku to corporate cronism &c. and your paragraph on future Western otakus absorbing positive ascpects of Japanese culture and gaining interest in political issues as a bit contradictory.

6 Name: MJP 2005-07-31 03:40 ID:Heaven

I think that those exaggerations will seem apparent to those who are serious about engaging in real academic study of Japan. If anime/manga/video games serves as a gateway to those, that's what I'm referring to. I'm not suggesting that otaku will adopt keiretsu-based structures or anything of the like, but everyone's gotta start somewhere. We can't expect the core otaku market in the US, which is basically in two areas: 1, younger fans (13-21) who care enough to attend conventions; 2, older fans (22-35) who are in a position to engage in real studies with an appropriate mindset. I think that the latter group will make the real decisions; the younger bracket is simply too young and does not have enough resources or guidance to make that happen.

I think that younger otakus are smart enough, though, to realize that there is a difference between them and Japan. Like I said, it's too early and too narrow to really make a call on what it's doing today. Don't get me wrong; I think that there are still some direct cultural and social lessons that can be learned directly from anime/manga, not just as a gateway, but I do agree in that Japan cannot be given full and accurate representation through its pop culture exports alone.

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