Author Archive

Still Alive

3 January, 2013 Comments off

Between private-sector work (my day job involves doing graphic design for the broadcasting industry) and teaching, I’ve had precious little time to blog this past semester. However, I’m currently working on a journal article and conference presentation which both present ample opportunities for stuff to get left on the cutting-room floor, so there may be some more posts in the not-too-distant future.

In other news, I now really want some Marisa eyeglasses. I like how they echo the shape of her Hakkero.

Categories: Uncategorized

On the “brief updates” front…

22 June, 2012 Comments off

Did Anime Expo seriously include a rape joke in today’s email newsletter?  Yes, they did:

(Trigger warning for rape culture.)

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Henry Jenkins Interviews Researchers of Otaku

27 April, 2012 Comments off

Henry Jenkins, under whom I had the good fortune to study at USC, today published the final piece in his three-part series of interviews with the editors of the recently-published book, Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World (Feb. 2012, Yale University Press).

The series is well worth checking out by anyone interested in the field:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

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Update, Round Two

17 March, 2012 2 comments

Real-life drama and professional busy-ness have left me without much time or energy for blog posting, hence the lack of updates.  For anyone interested, I’ll be giving a talk on Touhou and gender issues at the 2012 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference (Boston, March 21).  Two weeks later, I’ll be giving a talk on theoretical approaches to Hatsune Miku and augmented reality tech at USC School of Cinematic Arts’ ZdC graduate conference (Los Angeles, April 7).

After the crunch is over, I’ll see about adding more content.  Until then, here’s an experiment in real-time crowd-sourced experimental music production, courtesy of MIT’s Media Lab: Patchwerk.  The mass is doing a pretty good job of dialing in some truly God-forsaken noise; I’m running the stream as background music while I finalize my script for next Wednesday.

Categories: Update

“Animalized” Otaku and the World of Moé

24 December, 2011 2 comments

Not my room. Just FYI.

It’s Christmas Eve, and for a certain segment of the population, that means we have plenty of time on our hands to spend in front of our keyboards, ensconced in a fluffy menagerie of images, books, and other media. As such, I’ve been doing some thinking, particularly about upcoming journal articles/conference presentations and where I’d like to take my research in the future.

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25 November, 2011 Comments off

End of the semester, and it’s also PhD applications season.  Updates will continue to be sparse, but I should have a Fate/Zero essay ready once the smoke clears.

In other news, I’m as surprised as anyone at Ascii’s latest numbers claiming a 10.1% female viewership for Strike Witches.  That figure seems entirely too high.

Categories: Update Tags: ,

Doujin Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction

11 November, 2011 Comments off

I recently managed to wrap my claws around Takeshi Nogami’s latest work, Keiko Kato North Africa Military Photos 1943 (加東圭子戦場寫眞記録1943).  It is, of course, a doujinshi (independently-published book), released only at this year’s summer Comic Market event (Comiket, for those not fluent in otaku jargon).  It’s a fascinating text, and I’ll run a proper review later, but for now I’m primarily interested in its status as a book — that is, as a singular physical object consisting of bound pages printed with ink.  That such objects are especially revered within otaku culture can help shed additional light on one of the current challenges within the anime-studies field: establishing how, exactly, we should approach the topic of otaku consumption.

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Hatsune Miku, Idols, and Kim Kardashian: On the Malleability of Public Identity

6 November, 2011 Comments off

I must say, I’m rather fond of Frank Bruni as a writer. I particularly enjoyed his stint in the NYT dining section. Anyway, he makes an interesting observation about Kim Kardashian this week:

Like other celebrities famous for being famous, she means nothing and can thus mean everything, an empty vessel accommodating all manner of observations, a malleable moral for many stories.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen the concept of malleability come up with respect to celebrities. It happened with Hatsune Miku, and with idols. But there are a few salient differences here.

The Hatsune Miku quote came from an animator whose music video was played at Anime Expo 2010. He mentioned that one of the great things about Miku is that, being a software program, she can be different things to different creators. She can be an entirely different personality from one video to the next. She is a memetic canvas for the painting of desires.

Idols, on the other hand, work in service of an ideology. An ideology of performed femininity, to be sure, but there is nevertheless a purpose to their everything-meaning. The idol is a utopian figure; she is the human embodiment of a fantasy of how people should relate to one another. She’s always cheerful, always helpful, always ready with a song or a cute mannerism. It’s a heavy burden to bear — and an ethically-dubious one in some respects — and many idols find that they cannot indefinitely sustain the illusion of being more than human. When they retire — out of choice or out of necessity — the next generation of idols takes over.

But the American celebrities-for-celebrity’s-sake, of which Kim Kardashian appears to be one, are none of these. They have their own identities, independent of any one work or event in which they appear. And the ideology they embody, if anything, is far from utopian. They simply seem to reflect a particular form of hedonism. They stand for nothing except consumption, and they promise no greater societal good arising from those who emulate them, save for the universal freedom of being able to shop as you please.

All three of these archetypes (Miku, idol, and celebrity-for-celebrity’s-sake) are problematic public-sphere concepts, each in different ways. But if I were to take one of these as a model for vicarious living, I would much rather prefer the abstract creation potential of Miku or the harmonious societal fantasy of the idol. The celebrity-for-celebrity’s-sake seems to promote not utopianism, but nihilism.

(Of course, there are also wildly different reception dynamics in play. I don’t know how many young girls treat Hatsune Miku or idols as role models. And it very well could be that Kim Kardashian does have some value as a public figure to emulate. I guess I’m more concerned, at least at present, with the underlying motivations behind *why* these archetypes circulate within the public consciousness, rather than what their direct effects are.)