Digital Social Science and Oral Narrative Research Unit presents a symposium on

Intersections: Fan Studies in Conversation in Japan (Voices from Japan Session)

・Date: December 16, 2018 (Sunday)

Presenter Abstracts and Biographies

・Fans Visiting the Locations of Creative Fiction: The Mediatization of Tourism in Contemporary Japan

Recent years have seen a boom in interest concerning tourism related to manga, anime and games, but many works of creative fiction take actually existing places as locations to construct their virtual reality. It has been noted that many fans visit these actually existing places, which are taken as extensions of their respective works of creative fiction. Indeed, this is part of the range of activities by which fans can enjoy their favorite works. There are a number of different activities associated with “fan pilgrimage,” from the popular commemorative photographs of merchandise, figurines and dolls related to a given work taken in location to cosplay, which requires more preparation. This presentation explores some of the ways that fans encounter, experience and enjoy actual locations that are taken as extensions of works of creative fiction.

Jin NAKAMURA is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Management at the Japan University of Economics. Lecturing primarily on popular culture, his research interests include public administration and public policy concerning popular culture. From 2009 to 2010, he chaired the Fashion Policy Working Group for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. He is also on the academic advisory committee for the World Cosplay Summit, a director of the Japan Association for Social and Economic Systems Studies and a member of the Japan Society for Tourism Studies, the Japanese Political Science Association, the Japanese Society for Public Administration, the Public Policy Association Japan and the Japan Society for Fashion Business.

Weak Ties Among Intimate Strangers: Female Fandom of 2.5-Dimensional Theatrical Performances

In recent years, the term “2.5-dimensional” (nitengo jigen, hereafter 2.5D) has gained much attention within popular culture studies. This fan-led term primarily means cultural products (cultural practice in reality = the three dimensional) based on manga, anime, games and light novels (fiction = the two dimensional). However, if it is defined not only as the cultural products per se but also as fans’ engagement developed through their deep commitment to character-oriented consumption of popular culture, 2.5D can serve as a means to detect a wider cultural phenomenon. This presentation focuses on female fandom of 2.5D theatrical performances, an emerging subgenre in the Japanese theatrical stage performances and musicals. Female fans of 2.5D theatrical performances often construct and expand their fan networks through communication on Twitter, offline meetings and trading. Their diversity in age, places of residence, nationalities, familial backgrounds, marital status and ethnicities is enabled by their strong sense of connection based on preferences (favorite characters, actors and narratives). As suggested in recent work on weak but rigid connections among young people, female fans of 2.5D performance are “intimate strangers,” who are seeking a sense of being connected through sharing similar preferences. Taking up the examples of Musical Prince of Tennis, Yowamushi Pedal the Stage and Token Ranbu, this presentation examines some of the potentials of what I call “communities of preferences,” specifically intergenerational and intercultural understandings.

Akiko SUGAWA-SHIMADA is a Professor in the Graduate School of Urban Innovation at Yokohama National University, Japan. She is the author of a number of books and articles on manga, anime and related culture, including Shōjo to mahō: Gāru hīrō wa ikani juyō sareta noka (NTT Shuppan, 2013). In addition to chapters in books such as Japanese Animation: East Asian Perspectives (University Press of Mississippi, 2013), Teaching Japanese Popular Culture (Association for Asian Studies, 2016) and Japanese Popular Culture and Contents Tourism (Routledge, 2016), she is the co-editor of Anime kenkyū nyūmon (Gendai Shokan, 2014). Find her at .

・Are Dedicated Manga Readers “Fans?” On Japanese Shōjo Manga Culture and its Social Reception

In many countries around the world, particularly the Anglophone world, comics are considered to be a form of fan culture. Such is not the case in Japan, however, where manga make up close to 40 percent of print publications. Given the scale of a print media market that is second only to the United States, it is fair to say that manga is part of the mass media culture of Japan. In this context, the existence of manga fans and their impact on society at large is different from the Anglophone world. To demonstrate this point, this presentation focuses on manga for girls and women, which make up about half of the robust market in Japan. Considering the formation of this culture and its social impact, the presentation highlights the fact that changes in postwar Japanese society often overlap with changes in the values of women, which always appear first in shōjo manga. Over the years, shōjo manga revitalized a form of popular theater, gave birth to cute culture and ushered in the new industry of “fancy goods.” Such was the influence of shōjo manga that one could generally determine the lifestyle and life course of women based on the magazines that they read. Being a fan here means something different than what is typically assumed in fan studies in the Anglophone world, as well as “otaku” studies in Japan. This presentation aims to clarify that difference.

Yukari FUJIMOTO is a Professor in the School of Global Japanese Studies at Meiji University, Japan. After graduating from the University of Tokyo, she worked for many years as an editor at Chikuma Shobō, a major Japanese publisher. With the release of her Watashi no ibasho wa doku ni aru no? Shōjo manga ga utsusu kokoro no katachi (Gakuyō Shobō, 1998), she emerged as a leading voice in discussions of shōjo manga, Japanese girls and women and gender and sexuality. Her research interests include changes over time in the attitudes of girls and women as seen in shōjo manga, transgressive gender expression in manga and international comparisons of manga (including distribution conditions, regulation of expression and copyright issues).

・Archiving Fan Cultures and Fan Activities

There are certain difficulties in conducting research on fan cultures and fan activities in Japan. The individuals known as “otaku” tend to refrain from becoming subjects of research. Limiting interviewees to individuals and groups that are exceptional may grossly diminish the scope of a given study. However, the steepest obstacle is met when the researcher endeavors to study the past, whether the objective is historical research as such or to observe the present from historical perspectives. An accessible archive of materials is essential, not only to perform such studies, but also to establish the credibility and continuity of fan studies in academia. This presentation provides an overview of several ongoing projects in Japan that are committed to archiving materials, mainly manga, anime, videogames, tokusatsu and related fan cultures and activities. Although most of these projects originated as private endeavors, recent years have seen an increase in institutional and governmental attention and support. The presentation will discuss the scope of such support as well as their complexities.

Kaichirō MORIKAWA has been an Associate Professor in the School of Global Japanese Studies at Meiji University, Japan, since 2008. Born in 1971, he received an MA in Architecture from Waseda University, served as commissioner of the Japanese pavilion at the Venice Biennale 9th International Architecture Exhibition and produced the exhibit OTAKU: persona = space = city in 2004. Both these exhibitions come out of his Shuto no tanjō: Moeru toshi Akihabara (Gentōsha, 2003), a key publication in the scholarship on manga/anime subculture in Japan. He is currently working to establish the Tokyo International Manga Library and directing the Yoshihiro Yonezawa Memorial Museum of Manga and Subcultures. See http://www.meiji.ac.jp/manga/english/ and http://www.meiji.ac.jp/manga/english/yonezawa_lib/.

Back to the event schedule page

Intersections: Voices from the Uk and the USA session abstracts and bios