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Roland Kelts, “The Soul of Japan“, Adbusters

I am not sure I understand what is going on in this article.

1. Japan has been too influenced by American culture, but also hasn’t been influenced enough.

Murakami Ryu complains about Japan taking up too much American-style materialism, but then complains that Japan only took up American culture in a superficial way. But wouldn’t it be way worse had Japan adopted American style values in a deep and thorough way? Hasn’t Japanese culture been “saved” by only appropriating American culture as surface?

2. The entire idea of Japanese social dependence comes from the defeat of WWII and not over a millennium of Confucian-derived values.

“A Japan shaped by its reliance upon big brother/big daddy America would naturally perfect this form of expression.”

Murakami Takashi — if I was new to this, I would think that everyone in Japan is named “Murakami,” by the way — is obsessed with framing every possible Japanese cultural tendency through the lens of WWII. Sure, the war was an epoch-changing affair and the scars are deep, but I don’t think America suddenly invented the idea of dependence and hierarchical relations and hoisted them on Japan. Murakami seems to complain about all these hierarchical structures — in an incredibly Oedipal American way — and then blames them on America. And then he also goes around saying that Japan is “superflat” — no hierarchies at all.

Then Murakami Ryu says, “The paradigm of Japanese society has changed since the era of rapid economic growth, but our society still provides the same kind of education and corporations are still managed by rules based on norms rooted in the paradigms of that time.”

This is a great summary of Japan’s political issues, but the cause has way more to do with Japanese internal political inertia and social organization than any sort of complex with America.

3. Japan is powerless to do anything about this American influence.

“There are 45,000 American troops here, and American fast food is everywhere. What could we do to stop it?”

For the time being, let’s ignore the fact that there is Japanese fast food everywhere and that there are probably as many Doutors as Starbucks.

I absolutely believe that the United States has had a distorting influence upon the Japanese political process. The CIA secretly funded the LDP until, at least, the late 1980s and put right-wing thugs on their payroll to crush Leftist dissent.

That being said, individual Japanese citizens do have a choice of whether to eat McDonalds or Yoshinoya. All that “fast food” is there because it sells really well. McDonalds Japan just posted record revenues.

In the same way, the Japanese people could have voted for a political party that promised an independent foreign policy from American needs, but the LDP has been given the reigns to the country for almost the entirety of the post-war period. There are everyday lifestyle choices that would help mitigate the American influence, but most people are choosing the status quo. No one seems to be interested in asking why there is such a high demand for American culture and products in Japan.

“And the BBC reported in May that Japan’s Communist Party had swelled to more than 400,000 members, with 1,000 newbies signing on every month.”

So, good, the Japanese, through support of the JCP, are making a political movement against Japan’s participation in the American capitalistic sphere and the nuclear treaty. But if membership is increasing, why did the JCP lose ground in the last Tokyo election? And why do people think they will lose further ground in this month’s big national election?

4. Everyone loves American culture, but there is something shameful about liking American culture.

“Oe admitted that books like Huckleberry Finn and volumes by Walt Whitman first inspired him to embark on his career as a writer. He reportedly bowed his head in apology immediately after making this confession.”

I think the context of that anecdote was that Oe has always been aligned with the Japanese left, but as an American Left-style humanist liberal democrat, he had to feign a certain amount of shame in front of the dominant USSR and China-oriented Socialists. I don’t think that liking Huckleberry Finn is particularly shame-worthy in more mainstream circles. Murakami Haruki wears his American influences on his sleeve, and he’s a hugely-selling author.

5. American culture has lost influence in Japan.

“Younger Japanese are setting the trends that young Americans and other Westerners now follow”

This needs to be highly qualified. Mixi was a Friendster rip-off, and American web culture — other than 4-chan perhaps — has taken very little influence from Japanese web culture. There are probably things that prove the “Japan got to postmodernity before the US,” but net culture does not work as an example.

But I agree with the bigger point: young Japanese have generally lost interest in the U.S. This is totally true — especially in the fashion world. Japanese youth know so little about the rest of the world that there is no way they could harbor an inferiority complex.

So shouldn’t this be a cause for celebration? Isn’t this the end of the psychological crisis? Do any of the artists featured in the piece feel happy about the artistic potential of the latest youth generation? Wasn’t it the complex and dialogue with the West that spurred the creative tension in their work? Would Murakami Takashi give all the money back for his “soul”?

W. David MARX
August 12, 2009

39 Responses

  1. Chris Palmieri Says:

    Starbucks has 854 stores in Japan.
    Doutor had 1490 as of 2006, probably the biggest domestic coffee chain, but not the only by any means.

  2. francesco fondi Says:

    Great post. Just few observations about the last part.

    “Younger Japanese are setting the trends that young Americans and other Westerners now follow

    This needs to be highly qualified. Mixi was a Friendster rip-off, and American web culture — other than 4-chan perhaps — has taken very little influence from Japanese web culture.”

    Ok, you are talking about the media, but the contents?
    I think that is clear that Japanese pop culture is popular in US and Europe.

    Don’t you feel that many popular posts on american blogs are based on Japanese stories/products/trend.

    The point is that till the beginning of the nineties “every” new cultural trend came from USA, now it’s diffent. Isn’t it? (the same happened in Europe, but this is another story)…

  3. Shii Says:

    I wouldnt even bother criticizing this article. Just scrap it and write your own

  4. Rick Says:

    Japanese youth know so little about the rest of the world that there is no way they could harbor an inferiority complex.

    If my personal experience with university-aged Japanese is any indication, then this strikes me as a dead-on accurate statement. There are always some outliers, but the hundreds of kids I meet every year here in Miyazaki are proof enough for me. It has not been my experience that these kids have any kind of inferiority complex about their own culture as compared to the rest of the world. (I would only qualify this a bit by noting that I don’t have any humanities students–medical/nursing, agriculture, and technology majors, these are my students.)

  5. M-Bone Says:

    JCP – “And why do people think they will lose further ground in this month’s big national election?”

    I know some people who have voted JCP in the past and are voting DPJ this time for pragmatic reasons – “kick the bums out”. I’m 100% sure that this is what I would be doing were I a voter. The DPJ contains significant Socalist Party elements – both people and policy (minimum wage).

    The problem with this article is that it quotes a bunch of more or less unrelated thinkers and none of them are primarily interested in considering the Japanese-American relationship. Murakami Takashi? He decided on the atomic bomb trauma theme in a discussion with his accountant.

    “Younger Japanese are setting the trends that young Americans and other Westerners now follow”

    As much as I enjoy seeing Japanese popular culture gaining success overseas, I think that this quote is pure BS. In areas like movies, music, and TV, Japanese influence is tiny or very indirect (if all of the American 3D animators are so influenced by Miyazaki, why do they keep making obtuse, noisy, good vs. evil films that don’t feel anything like Miyazaki’s? Did Spielburg really watch Seven Samurai before making his latest Indiana Jones flick? If so, so what?). Fashion? Maybe among small subcultures but I doubt that Rick in Philly thinks that his vintage t-shirt is Japan derived? Video games? I argued strongly that Japanese games are still a leading player in the US market but you would have to be blind to not a total transformation of the US game market over the past decade and the transformation of once mainstream Japanese genres (JRPG, fighters) into a niche. Let’s compare the box office gross of Ponyo to the next Pixar film. Sushi? Yes, but it sure isn’t Edomae, more hot sauce drenched California Rolls. I could go on like this forever. What is special about Japan in the US at present isn’t cultural leadership, it is niche culture pull, strong, notable, but still niche.

    This article also totally misses the biggest development in Japanese US images over the past decade – the emergence a solid core on the right who hate America (hanbei hoshu) more than the leftists.

  6. W. David MARX Says:

    I think that is clear that Japanese pop culture is popular in US and Europe.

    Absolutely and I don’t mean to challenge this. But I do think the Japanese internet culture — not the content but the forms/methods — has not had much impact on the West.

    I will say I have been surprised to see how much the US otaku community rallies behind Japanese otaku ideas of gender politics, but I will leave that for another day.

  7. Adamu Says:

    Forget this article. In my book, the only “Soul of Japan” worth reading is this guy:

    http://thesoulofjapan.blogspot.com/

  8. M-Bone Says:

    I actually thought that this post was going to be Marxy’s take on the Soul of Japan blog when I clicked.

    I gotta say, if the dude is taking the piss, that is the best blog ever.

  9. Aceface Says:

    “Soul of Japan” blogger seems to be agreeing “Japan going insular” article on Global Post by Gavin Blair,Which seems as a contradiction to my eyes.

  10. Adamu Says:

    As far as I can tell this guy is being dead serious. At least that is what I want to believe.

  11. Adamu Says:

    Maybe the use of the word “soul” should let readers know this article will be a work of fiction or perhaps of religious faith. That’s because the attitudes and values he ascribes to Japanese people are basically made up. Japan doesn’t have a soul anymore than real people have souls. It’s a collection of people that form a society, so I just don’t see any usefulness in talking about a national spirit. It does more to forestall critical thinking than to encourage it.

    Why this false distinction between “Japanese” and American businesses? The entire corporate system was a wholesale import from the West as was its legal system. This isn’t new. Japan is of course an Asian country but one which basically self-colonized and adopted many many institutions of Western culture. This process continues today as local industries wait to see what businesses succeed in the US before trying them out in Japan. Businesses whether Japanese or American face the same pressures in trying to crack the Japanese market and they have been roundly successful at getting them to shop at chain restaurants, supermarkets, and the like. This isn’t colonization, it’s just business.

    Juxtaposing “cool Japan” mystique with the situation on the ground might be an interesting intellectual enterprise but it seems kind of irrelevant except maybe in the minds of propagandists who want to weave a narrative out of otherwise unconnected threads.

    In the end this sort of stuff is so divorced from reality as to be completely useless and boring to me. It’s daunting to try and deconstruct this essay since it’s fallacious to begin with. Let’s stick to the facts and stop trying to psychoanalyze the Oriental mind.

    He describes Japan as a country of children, but I think he’s the one being childish by freaking out over there being “something wrong” with Japan. Is there any perfect country out there? Of course not. But let’s calm down for a minute and think about what’s really wrong with the country and how we can deal with it.

    He goes on for so long about psychological malaise but apparently by the end he expresses hope that the next generation will grow up hating America and have pride in being Japanese because of its newfound cultural heft. I guess that’s what he was trying to say after all – Japan’s national spirit must be strong and confident as the “big daddy” in America wilts.

  12. Durf Says:

    I really enjoyed @Aceface7‘s comments on the Kelts piece. The guy strikes me as someone who’s really interested in certain bits of Japanese culture, as well as talented/lucky enough to spin a career out of that interest. If he stuck to lit crit or manga explication or whatever that would be great; but he goes on and tries to sift the entirety of the nation through the filter of whatever handful of writers he’s really in to these days.

    Is he a fluent communicator in Japanese, by the way? I’ve heard him speak before, but his presentation that I attended was all in English.

  13. M-Bone Says:

    Adamu makes some excellent points.

    Japan is usually described as having followed “the West” into modernity, but what defines modernity? One thing that people always come back to is the industrailized mass killing of WWI, but the Japanese and Russians actually experienced that FIRST.

    What authors define modernity and the foreshadowing of postmodernity for the West? Probably Kafka and Borges. And yet Akutagawa was dead and buried before either of those guys was widely read.

    Japan had fast food, mass advertising, and industrial capitalism before Perry. America and Europe influenced the later development of those features of Japanese culture but I don’t see why so many find a need to associate mass produced food on the run with some kind of crushing blow to Japanese cultural liberty. False binaries abound.

  14. Mulboyne Says:

    The presence of foreign fast food chains in Japan has a very specific background. From after the war until 1969, the restaurant business was effectively a protected national industry in Japan. The Foreign Investment Law of 1950 prohibited overseas capital in that area until it was revised in March 1969.

    This change led to a rush to sign up franchise deals and joint ventures with overseas operators. Some, like Kentucky Fried Chicken, took advantage of the 1970 Osaka Expo to do test marketing and, over the next 10 years or so, the likes of McDonald’s, Arby’s, Hardee’s, Mister Donut, Dunkin Donuts, Dairy Queen, Tastee Freez, Orange Julius, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Pizza Inn, Baskin-Robbins and Shakeys all made it over. Wendy’s was personally selected by Isao Nakauchi, the founder of Daiei supermarket, who was a very early mover. Within three months of the change in regulations, he set up a subsidiary called Orange Food Court and opened Dom Dom Hamburger (ドムドムハンバーガー) in 1970 which is often called Japan’s first burger restaurant, despite the better claim of The Hamburger Inn which opened in Roppongi in 1950.

    In short, you can put an exact date on the growth of these fast food businesses and the fact that all firms got the opportunity at the same time probably gave some people a sense of whirlwind cultural change. However, as Adamu notes above, the change was just as much corporate as culinary. Japan already knew about fried chicken, pizzas, ice cream and hamburgers and M-Bone has already pointed out that Japanese were no strangers to fast food either. It was only really from 1969, though, that local operators began to pick up the logistical expertise to put the whole package together as a standard product in a standard environment. Management theories and techniques were quite in vogue at that time: Nikkei Business magazine was also launched in 1969, just one month after that law change, and was aimed at “top and middle managers”.

    McDonalds isn’t a particularly helpful example to look at this. The company has become synonymous with globalisation which is often interpreted by same as “Americanisation”. That’s true in dozens of territories aside from Japan. In Britain, for instance, hamburgers certainly were marketed as very American but they were first made popular by J Lyons – who ran the iconic Lyons tea shops – when they opened Wimpy burger restaurants as early as 1954. McDonalds didn’t make it to Britain until 1974, three years later than Japan, but they soon wiped out Wimpy even though their rival had a 20 year head start. The fact that so many US fast food franchises failed in Japan is just as interesting as the ones that succeeded because it’s probably more down to their operations side than their menus.

    It’s also interesting that Japan’s convenience stores and family restaurants are rarely spoken about in the same cultural terms as fast food chains despite the fact that the franchise deals that brought them over were facilitated by the same 1969 law change. Ito Yokado (as it was called at the time) was the larger rival to Daiei but moved a little slower, setting up a contracts with with both Denny’s and 7-11 in 1973.

  15. Jeff Lippold Says:

    Well thought out counterpoints to an article so rife with points to criticize it would be too hard to even figure out where to start.
    Personally, I’m still trying to figure out the connection between Japan’s “influence” on the web (Facebook and MySpace really have no reason to be mentioned in the same sentence as Mixi when it comes to overall impact)and some “post-modernist but they have no idea what’s going on” high school kids in Tottori. Baffling, confusing and it doesn’t really say anything.

    I’d be curious about digging deeper into the lessened influence of foreign movies in Japan. This is dismissed as a rejection of the US and contributed to the rise of anime and manga, but really most of those big hits that have propelled the domestic film market are simple remakes of TV programs adapted for the big screen (sort of an American thing), bolstered by record revenues from the infrequent release of a Hayao Miyazaki film.
    Like I said when I opened this comment – I don’t know where to start but appreciate you taking a crack at this.

  16. M-Bone Says:

    “Ito Yokado (as it was called at the time) was the larger rival to Daiei but moved a little slower, setting up a contracts with with both Denny’s and 7-11 in 1973.”

    Great points. While I have not seen numbers for the last year, I have heard time and again that konbni bento (especially 7-11) generate quite a bit more revenue than MacDonalds.

    When we look at the contents of those bento – hamburg, ebi fry, tempura – it is possible to pitch that as the fall of Japan, but on the flip side – weren’t Chicken MacNuggets inspired by karaage? And why do people go so nuts looking for “authenticity” when it comes to Japan and try to turn it into an existential crisis that has about as much to do with the thought of the vast majority of Japanese as fear of the neon sign?

    As for MacDonalds – from the gals putting on their makeup at 6 in the morning at the shibuya MacDonalds from the window of which you can see 3 other MacDonalds, to the Dragon Quest IX promotion attracting guys in their 20s (I finished it before the promotion started….), to the hot dogs for breakfast, to the ice coffee driving morning sales in summer…. it is always struck me as one of the quintessential “Japanese” spaces.

  17. M-Bone Says:

    “This is dismissed as a rejection of the US and contributed to the rise of anime and manga, but really most of those big hits that have propelled the domestic film market are simple remakes of TV programs adapted for the big screen”

    Points about American movies also ignore the fact that US dramas have become far more popular in Japan over the last few years.

    In addition, the “rise” of anime and manga really hit it in the 1980s at the absolute low point for Japanese film (for 2 years in the 80s, 1 American film earned as much as the Japanese top 10) when Hollywood was booming. Sales for both anime and manga have been dropping slightly lately (Miyazaki aside) – at about the same rate as the box office gross of American films in line with a general flatline in consumption. Once again, I think that most of the pairings being made in the original article are forced and miss the big picture.

  18. Marxy Says:

    I think Japan should trade in a bit of its soul to get back Orange Julius. And maybe Dairy Queen.

  19. rabuho Says:

    and Taco Bell. Even if it is shite.

  20. M-Bone Says:

    I’ll be eating Dairy Queen next month.

    Someone needs to make a manga about an Edo period Japanese trading little bits of his soul for stuff like printing, sukiyaki, and Beyonce’s Crystal Geyser commercial.

  21. Durf Says:

    Bring back Quiznos! Down with the Japanese soul!

  22. Mulboyne Says:

    Taco Bell was introduced to Japan in 1988 when the company was owned by Pepsi who also owned a stake in KFC Japan at the time along with Mitsubishi. They shared headquarters. The first restaurant was in Nagoya and they never really broke out of there. Now, as far as I know, the only outlets in Japan are on US bases.

    Also in the 80s, Taco Time licensed 25 restaurants in Japan to a joint venture involving attorney/tarento Kent Gilbert and Nissan. I think the Mormon church was supposed to be involved so presumably they also saw the link between fast food and the soul of Japan. Plans didn’t pan out, however. The business lasted two years but Nissan pulled the plug. Ostensibly, they did so because of rising real estate prices but the yen was beginning to squeeze their mainline businesses. As recently as 2006, there was still one left in FutagoTamagawa but I see that their website has disappeared.

  23. M-Bone Says:

    Back upthread a bit -

    “I will say I have been surprised to see how much the US otaku community rallies behind Japanese otaku ideas of gender politics, but I will leave that for another day.”

    I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this theme lately myself. I was thinking that it comes from a “don’t touch my porn” knee jerk reaction or a new trend toward some US otaku latching their identities to Japan to such a degree that they will defend anything… but then I see things like the comments here -

    http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2009/08/lgbt-campaign/#comments

    Some commenters are basically saying that “those uppity homosexuals shouldn’t tell us how to speak, political corectess is so gay”. In the end, I think this is more of an unsupervised 12 year old hates the world thing than a Japan thing.

  24. Adamu Says:

    Bangkok is full of Dairy Queens, which was one of the things that made it tolerable to live there!

  25. Marxy Says:

    I think this is more of an unsupervised 12 year old hates the world thing than a Japan thing.

    Definitely, but I think the otaku angle lets them frame it in a shared subcultural set of values rather than just teen angst. I am sure dudes wants to virtually rape cartoon characters with cat ears, but now they have a chance to do it. The otaku angle also lets them call all women who voice an independent opinion a “feminazi” without thinking they are being “conservative.” I don’t think otaku culture in any way invented these values and positions, but it may make people more comfortable espousing them. I am not sure Star Trek fan sites are full of comments saying “Abolish the statutory rape laws!” and “Kill all feminists.”

  26. M-Bone Says:

    “I am not sure Star Trek fan sites are full of comments saying”

    Are there 12 year old Star Trek fans? It makes a big difference if we are talking about 12-16 or a 35 year old guy here.

    It seems that there are certain things that appeal to the 12-16 boys crowd that pull out this type of attitude. For example, Roger Ebert got a lot of flack over the “race sensitivity” issue in the new Transformers. He was also accused of being “impotent” because Megan Fox’s hotness didn’t increase the film’s star rating very much. Same basic pattern. Video games, anime, stoopid Hollywood movies – there seems to be a group of kids that are mad into all of them and also trying to find a voice by pushing “us vs. PC”. Back in the day there used to be “anime fans”. Now there are people who consume the stuff, might think Japan is awesome, but don’t necessarily build a lifestyle around it like otaku tend to. Anime and manga drew in ordinary 12 year olds which was good for business, bad for discourse.

    So are these militant anti-feminists actually “otaku” – a group that self-identifies as Japanophilic and often quite strongly rejects American entertainment – or are they the type who looks at cat ear porn in the morning, watch Afro Samurai and plays Halo in the afternoon, and go to a midnight showing of “Blowing Stuff Up III” before posting some hate on the internet?

    As far as I can tell, the people with thousands of posts on a site like animenewsnetwork tended to come down strong against the rape games while the complainers are the hundred posts guys who are there to start #&”% -

    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/bbs/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=118462

    The mess on Danny Choo’s site was one thing, but do the people who fancy themselves “real” otaku even visit there? It seems like a pretty tight crowd – Choo posts some NSFW model pics so he might be drawing the vocal porn nuts too.

  27. W. David MARX Says:

    On looking into the Rapelay thing, I stumbled on some what I thought were very otaku-dedicated sites, and I found a lot of creepy comments. I agree that this doesn’t tar all North American otaku, but there is a pocket of real-deal “otaku” who do subscribe to the “Let’s kill the feminazis” stance. Maybe it’s a Venn Diagram of otaku and your “us vs. PC” crowd.

  28. M-Bone Says:

    In any case, they’re all nuts.

    But… how many of those NYT hostess comments can we throw in the mix too?

  29. News Digest August 10 to 14 | thegraffik | Design and Illustration Says:

    [...] to ‘re-blog’ but an Adbusters article by Roland Kelts has been causing ripples in the blogosphere (Neojapanisme’s for one). Professor Kelts talks about changes in the relationship between the West (i.e. America) [...]

  30. Mark Says:

    “I think that most of the pairings being made in the original article are forced and miss the big picture.”

    It’s Adbusters; Consider the source. Just because situationists are aware that so much of modern media is inundated with a twist of agenda pushing doesn’t mean they don’t aggressively push their own agendas via media, quite the contrary.

    http://www.newpeopleworld.com/

    In a semi-related note, Viz Media just threw a big shebang to celebrate the opening of its somewhat baffling Japanese pop arts-fashion-film-multimedia boutique in San Francisco’s Japantown. The boutique itself, from what I could discern on site, is a celebration of aspects (niches) of Japanese pop culture that have long since atrophied and dropped dead in Japan itself.

    Between this spectacle, a new localized science fiction novel label and picking up a slew of very niche manga titles via Ikki magazine, I wonder how much money Shogakukan has been pumping through Shueisha into its puppet Viz. If you want to talk about the view that “Japan cool” continues to be a commercial force in America, you should probably talk to Shogakukan since they’re the ones more or less keeping it afloat via their Shonen Jump America sales.

  31. M-Bone Says:

    “It’s Adbusters; Consider the source”

    Doesn’t Kelts always write like that?

  32. Hlem Says:

    Isn’t this feminist-hating, internet surfing poisonous teen with an affinity for anime demographic pretty much synonymous w/ 4chan etc…

  33. Made in DNA Says:

    I think you missed the point of the original article.

  34. W. David MARX Says:

    Which was?

  35. Leonardo Boiko Says:

    > Hideaki Anno, creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Japan’s version of Star Wars […]

    wait.

    what.

  36. Leonardo Boiko Says:

    About the gender issues: I might be romanticizing, but I didn’t feel it back in the day. I was a Brazilian “otaku” (we didn’t have the term at the time) of the Saint Seiya age, i.e. about 1994 onwards. The circles I frequented, at least, used to be pretty liberal (as far as political terms mean anything to teenagers). In particular, I didn’t came in contact with any rape manga or game or overt misogyny — our «anime porn» generally involved lewd adult women with oversized breasts, local yaoi zines, and light-hearted sex parodies. There was an unusually high tolerance of sexual diversity in anime clubs and conventions (which was very important to me — anime groups were the first place where I felt I could be open about my sexuality, and it was in that environment that I met my first boyfriend). I wouldn’t classify the culture as properly feminist (exceptions aside (e.g. Utena), most anime is quite sexist); but there was gender tolerance — it was the only place were a male teenager would feel accepted while enjoying «girly» stuff, namely shōjo, and where girls were welcomed to explore «boyish» nerdy things.

    Since I was active in a pre-Internet age (for me), I have no idea how Japan and U.S. groups felt at the time. In any case I’d love to read a bit more w.r.t otaku groups and gender politics.

    In short, all this culture of moé and macho posturing would feel quite alien to my 15-year-old self. It makes me disappointed enough that I’m kind of happy with the way anime is being absorbed into mainstream — a fandom environment such as the present one isn’t worth keeping.

  37. M-Bone Says:

    I’m a vet of the wave of anime fandom that popped up around 1995. I was mostly interested in scifi visions like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Nausicaa, etc. There was a proto-moe fandom back then – some fans were most interested in Aa Megami-sama and titles like that and there were debates online around 1996-1997 focusing around the idea that anime fandom might be a form of longing for 1950s ideals of (American) femininity. I never really thought that this debate applied to me as I was not into these titles (and never got into moe) and was a “critical” viewer. What is going on now CAN suck. However, back in the day, anime fandom was a rather simple subculture – there were a half dozen fan “types” that could describe most everyone who was into the medium. Now, I would argue that there are so many types of anime fans in America (and Japan) that we are really talking about dozens, perhaps hundreds of different subcultures within the subculture. We can define fans according to what they consume, their attitude toward Japan, etc. There REALLY are some parts of this fandom that are not worth keeping but others are fantastic – some more critical teens are using anime as their first bridge into subtitled film, for example.

    The Venn Diagrams that Marxy mentioned above would be perfect to use for examining these groups.

  38. Arthur Says:

    Looks like Kelts got the part about Hollywood’s fading in Japan right on:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/reutersEdge/idUSTRE5861RO20090907

  39. M-Bone Says:

    The “fading” of Hollywood in Japan was discussed pretty widely from 2007. There has been a simultaneous boom in American TV drama rentals though.