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It's Saturday, which means time for book reviews! And since I just finished Ian Condry's new book The Soul of Anime a couple of weeks ago, here are some thoughts. Note: thoughts may be oriented towards my own personal usage. YMMV. RSVP. TTYL. Etc. ;)

The Soul of Anime )
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In the year 2000, Saitou Tamaki published Sentou bishoujo no seishin bunseki, an early attempt at (psycho)analyzing Japan's budding otaku culture. I read sections of it in Japanese in 2010, but, frustrated by the psychoanalytic terminology, ended up working more off of others' critiques (notably Tom Lamarre's in The Anime Machine). From that exposure, I came to the conclusion that I did not like Saitou's general attitude towards otaku or fujoshi. Not at all. I thought it was condescending, pathologizing, heteronormative, and universalizing, in the way the worst psychoanalysis often is.

In 2011, the book was translated as Beautiful Fighting Girl by J. Keith Vincent and Dawn Lawson at the U of Minnesota Press. And reading the whole thing in English has changed my opinion, a little. I was surprised to find some ideas that I think do have value for creating a more nuanced and flexible idea of otaku, especially regarding the relation between image, reality, and sexuality. But these ideas are not things Saitou brings out well himself, and he often falls back on frustrating Freudian/Lacanian analyses that foreclose the potential of his own earlier suggestions.

Under the cut is a shorthand list of quotes and ideas I thought were helpful, and others I thought were rage-inducing.

Quotes and thoughts )

In conclusion, there are lots of interesting things to be found in the book, including long excerpts from letters written by Japanese and American anime fans and a comprehensive lineage of the beautiful fighting girl figure from 1958-99, with examples from dozens of series. There are also a few good concepts hiding like diamonds in the rough of lamentable psychoanalysis. It's not a long book or a very difficult one, if you've got some critical theory under your belt. Anyone who wants to study otaku should read it -if mainly as something to move on from.

Thesis Link

Aug. 8th, 2011 09:53 am
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Hey, now that there's no chance of compromising my rl identity (because I did it myself) I can post this link freely.

Here you can read or download my PhD thesis, "Animating Transcultural Communities: Animation Fandom in North America and East Asia from 1906-2010." The language and references are pretty academical, but I hope that anyone who likes animation and wants to know more about its history and current fandom might find it interesting. It's committee-approved and chock-full of animated goodness!

I'll post the abstract under a cut as well.

Thesis Abstraction )
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Today I'd like to write about Fujoshi no Hinkaku, or "The Dignity of Fujoshi." This semi-autobiographical manga-essay was written by an office worker/artist going under the pen name "Kusame," a pun on the characters for "rotten woman" in the word "fujoshi." It introduces readers to the world of Boy's Love fan culture through the character of Fujoko, an office lady and secret fujoshi who discovers that her strong, smart, fashionable boss Takayo also harbours a hidden passion for BL. Fujoko declares that if great women like Takayo can be fujoshi, she too will aim to become just like her. She will become a fujoshi with dignity!

A Fresh take on Rotten Women )


Jan. 15th, 2011 01:17 pm
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When Kuragehime (“Princess Jellyfish”) debuted on Japanese television back in Fall 2010, my first thought was: oh my god, they made an anime about me. Ok, not exactly about me. I’m not an 18-year-old NEET living in a Tokyo apartment full of female otaku, like the heroine, Tsukimi. But a jellyfish-loving virgin geek girl? Yes indeed! And it’s cool to see a story about someone like that.

Well, that was my gut reaction to the premise. I’ve been following the series online since then, and really it’s not much like my life or the lives of any fangirls I know. But as far as the fall season’s crop of “otaku meta-anime” went, Kuragehime did turn out to be one of the most enjoyable: a show about some eccentric people who like eccentric things, told with heart and humour, in a non-exploitative way.

Also, the opening credits are pretty fun!

Himitsu, himitsu! )


Nov. 7th, 2009 01:08 pm
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As promised last week, are some thoughts on Genshiken and fandom. I'd write more of a preamble, but I need to get some lunch and start reading up on comics/manga history. I'm trying to sneak a half-chapter on anti-colonialism and comics into my thesis. We shall see how that goes. In the meantime...

Genshiken )
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So the spy-bots at Amazon that track my every purchase have sent me a message. They want me to know that Thomas Lamarre has a new book coming out on October 16th, called The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation. Thanks, spy-bots! You know me so well. Too well...

Seriously, though, I'm excited to read this book. Along with anime, I'm also a bit of a philosophy/lit theory geek, and Lamarre knows his theory. So today, instead of posting an anime review, I'll post some notes I took on one of his articles, "Otaku Movement" (2006), as a primer to the book. If this kind of stuff interests you, you might want to get the book -or get a library to order it, it costs many dollars. Would Lamarre endorse scanning and uploading it as a form of theory-otaku labour, I wonder? ^_^

Book is here (Canadian link)

Notes are under ye cut )


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