I didn’t think I would be the first one to link to this article. (Update: Defeated by Danny Choo, who probably made $100 on his site while I type this sentence. Maybe I should have added a picture of impossibly-chested cartoon women…)
Basically, somebody compared the most-edited pages within the Wikipedia English, Wikipedia French, and Wikipedia Japan sites, and haha, the top five for Japan were all anime/manga related. Number one in the U.S. was George W. Bush — a politically controversial figure. Number three in France was Algeria —
I heard France had a slightly-controversial colony there. (Update: M-Bone pointed out that I am an idiot and forgot that Algerians use French.) Japan’s only real historical topic comes at #14 — World War II. Despite the heavy internal debate on that war within Japan, everyone using the net is much more interested in fixing minutiae about cartoons.
It would be easy to show this ranking as proof that Japanese minds are more obsessed with pop culture than national issues, politics, or ideology, but my guess is that this mainly reflects the still low cultural penetration of the internet in Japan. I know that stats rarely bear out this statement of mine — broadband usage is through the roof! etc. etc. — but I don’t think your average Joe in Japan (城氏？) is as dependent upon internet resources for daily information retrieval as in the U.S., for example. I can’t put my finger on it, but something in Japan still feels like the U.S. internet circa 1998, when it was only good for looking up the master timeline to the Macross series and guitar chords to They Might Be Giants songs.
Let’s make an index: the number of Wikipedia pages in a language divided by the numbers of speakers of said language times 100. Japanese ranks very low (.38) — way below Dutch (1.6) and Polish (1.2). Those who do use Wikipedia in Japan are early adopters, much more likely to be nerds. It’s the John Locke vs. John Locke syndrome. But at least other countries have internal domestic policies in constant debate to challenge the nerd quotient.
Another interesting bit: number eight in Japan is the “complete list of adult video stars.” I guess people are constantly adding names. Certainly suggests that the reference site is used by a lot of men — who have a lot of time to dedicate to editing porn trivia.