Mechademia 5: Fanthropologies
U of Minnesota Press, Nov 30, 2013 - Social Science - 392 pages
Passionate fans of anime and manga, known in Japan as otaku and active around the world, play a significant role in the creation and interpretation of this pervasive popular culture. Routinely appropriating and remixing favorite characters, narratives, imagery, and settings, otaku take control of the anime characters they consume.
Fanthropologies—the fifth volume in the Mechademia series, an annual forum devoted to Japanese anime and manga—focuses on fans, fan activities, and the otaku phenomenon. The zones of activity discussed in these essays range from fan-subs (fan-subtitled versions of anime and manga) and copyright issues to gender and nationality in fandom, dolls, and other forms of consumption that fandom offers. Individual pieces include a remarkable photo essay on the emerging art of cosplay photography; an original manga about an obsessive doll-fan; and a tour of Akihabara, Tokyo's discount electronics shopping district, by a scholar disguised as a fuzzy animal.
Contributors: Madeline Ashby; Jodie Beck, McGill U; Christopher Bolton, Williams College; Naitō Chizuko, Otsuma U; Ian Condry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Martha Cornog; Kathryn Dunlap, U of Central Florida; Ōtsuka Eiji, Kobe Design U; Gerald Figal, Vanderbilt U; Patrick W. Galbraith, U of Tokyo; Marc Hairston, U of Texas at Dallas; Marilyn Ivy, Columbia U; Koichi Iwabuchi, Waseda U; Paul Jackson; Amamiya Karin; Fan-Yi Lam; Thomas Lamarre, McGill U; Paul M. Malone, U of Waterloo; Anne McKnight, U of Southern California; Livia Monnet, U of Montreal; Susan Napier, Tufts U; Kerin Ogg; Timothy Perper; Eron Rauch; Brian Ruh, Indiana U; Nathan Shockey, Columbia U; Marc Steinberg, Concordia U; Jin C. Tomshine, U of California, San Francisco; Carissa Wolf, North Dakota State U.
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Passive consumption is being overtaken by prosumers - producer/consumers who actively participate in, and even reimagine/extend, what they're passionate about. This is an excellent exploration through the filter of otaku/anime/manga/fandom culture (and very academic too; not everyone might be able to get through the dense analytical writing), with both expected and unexpected angles.
Two of my favourite pieces are Otsuka Eiji's "World and Variation: The Reproduction and Consumption of Narrative" with fascinating discussions on Bikkuriman Chocolates (and how the chocolate was only "packaging" for something much bigger), transmedia storytelling and narrative consumption; and Amamiya Karin's "Suffering Forces Us to Think beyond the Right-Left Barrier", a markedly different perspective from the rest of the book that also hits very close to home in the age of the 99%.