Posts by JekoJeko

English Lit student who's mostly into Japanese things, because that makes sense.

What Manga Tokyo’s ‘Redefining Otaku’ Article Gets Wrong

A few weeks ago, anime fansite Manga Tokyo launched a new column with its first article, Redefining ‘Otaku’ in the Modern Era. Within it, columnist Tim Rattray (who also writes for Crunchyroll, and his personal blog) takes aim at the stereotype of otaku as extremely anti-social, which he claims is still prevalent in how ‘otaku’ are discussed. He believes that the English-speaking sphere of the anime community needs to take responsibility in ‘redefining’ the word that has been loaned to us, and that we likewise need to set an example for the future of ‘otaku’ worldwide: “Let’s show the world why being otaku is great”.

Tim’s more recent article for this column asserts simply, and correctly, that when it comes to talking about otaku from as an ‘outsider’, “the fine line comes down to but one thing: respect” – but I don’t think Tim’s discussion of “Redefining ‘Otaku'” is respectful at all.

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Tim asserts that “the word ‘otaku’ is used as a pejorative in Japan, heavily connoted with the misconceived ‘obsessive’ and ‘detrimental’ aspects of those definitions”. Those definitions are however from English dictionaries. He fails to cite which. The first – ‘one with an obsessive interest in something, particularly anime or manga’ – comes from Wiktionary, under the subheading of ‘English’ definitions. Wiktionary definitions are often the product of inaccurate, crowdsourced information: for ‘オタク’ (‘otaku’), it gives usage notes that state that “in English, the word otaku is often used by anime lovers when referring to a big fan of anime or manga. In Japanese however, it is always derogatory”. This may be the source (not cited, if it is) for his assertion that otaku is only used as a pejorative in Japan, but it does not capture modern usage in Japan itself. Otaku themselves ook to using the term affectionately for each other while its broader use became negative towards, and they have since worked hard to destigmatize the notion of their particularly obsessive nerdiness: works like Densha Otoko have also depicted these fans as good, hardworking individuals.

Moreover, in the original, unedited article, Tim did not even mention the name of Miyazaki Tsutomu, the ‘Otaku Killer’ that inspired a vast amount of otaku-bashing in the 80s. He also claimed, pre-edit, that there were multiple ‘killers’, which acts as evidence of further co-opting mass media narratives: because of the legacy of Tsutomu, journalist Akihiro Ōtani had suspected that Kaoru Kobayashi, a serial killer who followed in the footsteps of the ‘otaku killer’, was a figurine collector before his arrest. Kobayashi wasn’t an otaku at all, but his murders regardless helped fuel hostility against these fans. It wasn’t long at all before everyone otaku was being considered a potential murderer: Kaichiro Morikawa gives the example of one reporter calling the one hundred thousand otaku gathered at the 36th Comiket, which opened right after the otaku killer’s arrest, ‘Miyazaki Tsutomus’ (Morikawa p.8). There is now a mention of Tsutomu’s name in the Talking Otaku article, but he is only explained through a comparison to the West’s ‘violence in video games’ debacle. A rhetorical move is made away from the specific history of Japanese otaku and towards a generalization of these fans as simply sharing the history that Western geeks have experienced and contributed to.

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Tim is likewise incorrect when he states that “the reason this negative connotation made sense in the public eye” is that “the word translates literally to ‘your home'”. Otaku was an honorific before it was co-opted by Aiko Nakamori, and he chose it for the social awkwardness with which some of these fans used it – at Comiket and elsewhere – instead of other titles, not in any sense because of its connotations to a literal home. Tim went as far as mentioning these ‘essays’ as only a sidenote in the first published version of the article. The edited version continues to ignore the fact that Manga Burriko wasn’t a mainstream magazine: as Morikawa has emphasized, the readership of the magazine was “the very otaku that Nakamori was ridiculing” (Morikawa p. 3). Tim’s narrative was, when the article was first published, absolutely backwards, and the fact that edits have been made to somewhat rectify this without any notes affirming these changes at the bottom of the article is a classic case of unethical journalism. How much more will the article have changed by the time you’ve read my thoughts on it here? Who knows.

Another edit that was made in order to include a mention of “other aspects of otaku culture beyond the scope of this quick history overview such as the female-dominated fujoshi” is similarly unaccounted for, and similarly wonky insofar as he parses the term as a ‘pejorative’ while simultaneously introducing the fact that fujoshi happily use the word to refer to themselves. They’ve already changed the ‘definition’ of the word, just as otaku have changed what the word means to them and for them. Why do Western readers of an English-language website need to take any action here, other than picking up what otaku efforts have already produced as a backlash against mass media? Why is someone writing for a mass media platform trying to take credit for work that’s already been done?

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The article also embraces the mass media myth of otaku as simply antisocial, even though he criticizes how otaku have been ‘frowned upon’ by the result of Nakamori claiming they are “always sitting off in a corner of the class, virtually invisible, with a gloomy expression, without a single friend”. Tim introduces the internet as an invention that offers a ‘cure’ to this supposed condition of being doomed to isolation, claiming that “something that differentiates the modern otaku to those of past decades is that the Internet enables them to seek out like-minded peers”. But as Lawrence Eng has observed, “contrary to the stereotypical image of the otaku as socially isolated” anime fan communities have always been “highly social and networked, relying on combinations of online and offline connections”; Eng himself uses the US ‘otaku’ scene since the 60s as a case study, but does so respectfully and productively.

In terms of Japanese otaku internet usage, the popular anonymous platform 2channel was launched in 1999, almost two decades from today, and though Tim believes that “otaku are increasingly finding both new and magnified ways to communicate”, the internet was came into being the very same year that Nakamori’s essays on otaku began to be released. The myth of otaku as simply socially inept is as old as the internet itself, and it’s hard to imagine that media-savvy otaku would have ignored the opportunities it presented; the rise of the use of ‘moe’ as a term for affection took place almost entirely online (Galbraith 2014 p.5), starting with the sento bishojo of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Rei Ayanami.

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From the VHS trade to the long history of Comiket and other such meetings, otaku have always operated on what is better termed an alternative social life. How does Tim imagine that these fans navigated the media they loved and the derivations that (they) spilled out from it without constantly connecting? In his essay on the history of ‘otaku’, Morikawa draws attention to a 1981 essay in Fan Rōdo (Morikawa p.3), which predates Nakamori’s polemics, wherein author Shirakawa Shōmei derides hardcore fans: “they are far more informed about their own interests than is absolutely necessary, and as it turns out, that‘s all they know”. More importantly, Shirakawa frames discussion around culture clubs, which were the driving force for why otaku were seen as socially outcast, as attendants to these clubs were seen as failing to connect in the normative social spaces of sports and traditional arts. It’s not that they weren’t sociable – they were sociable around the wrong things, in the wrong places, with the wrong people.

As Galbraith has explored in his work on otaku’s history with the district, these fans dominated the Pedestrian Paradise of 00s’ Akihabara through coming together for mass street performances, cosplaying and crossplaying and bringing a uniquely media-centric matsuri to life so much that authorities had to shut these activities down to keep the streets peaceful. One could even say these people are connecting with each other from media too much; that their identity of over-obsession extends into an incessant need to be connected to fellow fans through through what they love, which is the inverse of isolation. Yet, spawned from the iconography of Tsutomu Miyazaki’s media portrayal, the stereotype of otaku as dangerously isolated pervaded most discussions of them from the outside: though he promises a ‘history of otaku’, Tim joins the ranks of these outsiders looking in, and reciprocates their narrative while claiming that he bears responsibility for changing it.

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The most concerning aspect of the article is its overall angle. From using Western dictionaries to describe global usage to asserting that the internet, mostly a white man’s invention (not to discount the impact that Jun-ichi Nishizawa and Izuo Hayashi’s work had on internet hardware), offers salvation from an issue otaku did not and do not even have, Tim’s polemic veers dangerously close to a White Saviour Complex. ‘Otaku’ does not need redefinition in the Western anime fandom: it was loaned to us as a positive and affectionate word for devoted fans because of the work of otaku in Japan, and the resistance of those fans – and fans over here – to mass media narratives. While discussing how ‘otaku’ needs redefinition in the West, Tim repeatedly implies that otaku can only be understood in the West by paralleling them to Western examples. He goes as far as using his own life experiences for an ‘otaku’ ethnography, forever eager to look away from the Japanese themselves. This, combined with the initial lack of Japanese names, speaks of a marked disinterest in representing Japanese otaku accurately or honestly, which correlates to the erasure of the efforts otaku have already largely succeeded in when it comes to getting their fan identities out of stigmatization. One could even say that showing ‘the world’ that ‘being otaku is great’ is tantamount to an erasure of what being proud to be an otaku means in Japan: after being stigmatized and assumed to be serial killers, passionate Japanese manga and anime fans didn’t clamor for cohesion with normal society . They gave the middle finger to mainstream acceptance. That’s what’s been loaned to Western anime fans, as a positive word: an affectionate term for a fan who marks their difference to what’s normal, and what’s normally considered ‘enough’ passion for anything. Nothing needs to be redefined here.

We need to be talking about otaku, but it’s vital that we navigate away from the negative stereotypes that have been popularized by mass media and those outside of Japanese fandoms. If ‘respect’ is the keyword, and we acknowledge how we stand on the ‘outside’, it’s probably not a good idea to place ourselves as the focus for otaku life, or claim we need to do work that they have already done. Fans over here are already using ‘otaku’ in a positive sense, and so are otaku in Japan. What we need is a much louder outcry against myths like those Tim cooperates with – the idea that otaku were, at any point, a legion of lonely men needs to be scrubbed from public consciousness. This ‘Talking Otaku’ article is only going to be a set back to such an enterprise.

If you’re ‘Talking Otaku’ without letting any otaku talk, you’re part of the problem, not the solution, when it comes to how passionate Japanese fans have been misrepresented by the media.

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Stuff Cited:

  1. Galbraith, Patrick W., The Moe Manifesto (Clarendon: Tuttle, 2014)
  2. Galbraith, Patrick W., ‘Akihabara: Promoting and Policing “Otaku” in “Cool Japan”‘ in Introducing Japanese Popular Culture (Routledge, 2018) [https://www.academia.edu/36573806/Akihabara_Promoting_and_Policing_Otaku_in_Cool_Japan_]
  3. Morikawa, K. (2012). おたく/ Otaku / Geek. UC Berkeley: Center for Japanese Studies. [https://escholarship.org/uc/item/5zb9r8cr]
  4. An archived version of the ‘Redefining Otaku’ article as it stands today is available here, in case it changes again. I have screencaps of the original in case anyone doubts my discussion of it.

University is finished, and I’ll hopefully be graduating in a few months too! This means I’m now beginning work towards transitioning this blog into a professional, self-edited Youtube channel. If you’re interested in helping me cover the costs this involves, please consider checking out my Patreon. Thank you!

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Lolicon: Where Do We Draw The Line Around Drawings?

Recently, popular Twitter user Bardock Obama has made it his mission to ‘bury’ Digibro over his tweets regarding Patreon’s new rules about what artists funded on their site are allowed to draw:

I hear has instituted new rules banning illustrated incest, bestiality, and loli porn. Um… why? What does Patreon stand to gain by shunning artists based on the fetishes they draw? If they think this is a moral line in the sand, I’ve lost a ton of respect for them. (https://twitter.com/Digibrah/status/978050277713555457)

When some people began to insinuate that he was personally insecure about losing the ability to support these kinds of pornography, Digibro went on to explain that he had been a fan of lolis – a ‘lolicon’ – for a long time:

Where do I get these new motherfuckers from? Do you even know who I am? I’m pretty sure I’ve been loudly proclaiming my love for lolis for like 15 years where the fuck have you people been? If you think I’m going to be embarrassed by being called out you know dick about me. (https://twitter.com/Digibrah/status/978345008481886209)

In response, Bardock tweeted out that people shouldn’t let ‘children and now pets near this dude’. This progressed to him getting in contact with Crunchyroll, Funimation, VIZMedia, Toei Animation and Anime Expo in order to have Digibro boycotted or blacklisted by these platforms – apparently, one has already accepted this request (UPDATE: this tweet has now been deleted, suggesting it was false information). He wants this to be the ‘end’ of Digibro’s career. The harassment Digibro then received from Bardock’s followers led to him feeling the need to go private. Continue reading →

Earth-chan, VRChat and Becoming the Bishoujo: More Reflections on Moe

More than a year ago I wrote a long piece on moe, an otaku’s response to cuteness which has been frequently discussed but rarely defined. While that article served as a place to unpack many of my thoughts, it was also a reactionary piece to an article from The Mary Sue, and became mired as a result in a kind of ‘anti-feminist’ discourse that got me a few too many rabid ‘these women want to kill all men grrr’ followers as a result. A lot of them have since lost interest in this blog given that I’m not actually interested in their ‘feminism is cancer’ perspective.

Granted, I was bitter towards how such an interesting affective response was being portrayed by The Mary Sue, and how Galbraith’s work had been glossed over as ‘misogynistic’. I was especially jaded by how the female voices in his studies – which while being fewer had brought some brilliant observations to the table – had been sidelined rather than drawn out. There’s still a pervasive myth that otaku spaces are a men’s world, and that moe is a man’s code for a misogynistic, infantilizing view of women, which ignores how moe is used by fujoshi and the strict division of most otaku between the virtual and the real. But one quote from Galbraith’s The Moe Manifesto, from voice actress Momoi Halko, has stuck with me throughout my musings on what moe means to many different people:

“More than a desire to date a cute girl or anime character, it is a desire to become her.”

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Perfecting anime: What makes the difference?

I’ve never seen someone talk about a ‘perfect’ piece of art except as an exaggeration. Even when we’re totally ‘satisfied’ by what we’ve watched, we’ve already accepted that after a certain number of rewatches we’ll come to find something in what we’ve seen that sticks out as a fault. Still, as much as true ‘perfection’ in art is an illusion, it’s something every creative person thrives for: the exact execution of what they have in mind.

But with a process as multifaceted as anime production, how can all these individual visions flourish in the way they want to? Continue reading →

How Eromanga-sensei Made its Mark: Masochism and the Modern Otaku

There are few things the Western anime fandom can agree on, altogether. It’s hard to argue that Neon Genesis Evangelion wasn’t an monument of the medium, or that Berserk 2016 looked okay. But even when we unite on one opinion, we can still end up deeply divided.

This year, Eromanga-sensei was labeled ‘trash’ by both fans and haters, and rightly so. It goes beyond the idea of simply ‘trashy’ media (trash-like, sharing-qualities-with-the-idea-of-trash) and blatantly basks in its identity as a piece of garbage. For its devotees, it was one of the highest quality pieces of animated defecation the ‘idiot otaku gets surrounded by hot chicks of questionable ages and also his sort of his sister and fucks none of them’ genre has delivered. But among its critics, there have been some remarkably unfair judgements. In framing the show as one of his most hated of the year, Super Eyepatch Wolf did more than express his dislike of it: he didn’t believe that anyone could have been passionate about it. Continue reading →

Confusing Desire: The Trouble with ‘Traps’

Last week, Youtuber and PC gaming personality TotalBiscuit sparked controversy when he took to Twitter to call for the removal of an attendant of CoxCon, a privately-run convention for fans of Jesse Cox. The man’s offense? During a panel fielding questions from the floor, he asked “are traps gay?”.

Opinions are split on how ‘insensitive’ it was to throw this internet meme into a public space where many identifying as trans would be in attendance. Two extremes were erected; either the question was harmless, and trans people just need to learn about the context of ‘traps’ online, or it was incredibly offensive, and those who disagree just need to learn about the contexts of trans history that render it that way. I can find sympathy with both positions. While the idea of a ‘trap’ in anime fandoms is indeed not supposed to refer to trans people, those who defend the meme have a habit of refusing any discussion of trans issues that explain why ‘offense’ was taken Continue reading →

Defining ‘Anime’: A Linguistic Look

Thanks to Netflix’s Castelvania and the Internet’s unrelenting desire to argue about everything, the ‘but is it anime’ controversy has been reignited in full force. A few months ago, Mother’s Basement attempted to cash in on the debate by proclaiming that “Avatar is an anime. F*** you. Fight me”. Now that one of his sponsors has begun to co-produce anime – a project for which the music video of Porter Robinson’s Shelter may have been a test-pilot – it’s important that we continue to think about how the West has defined anime, and how that definition is becoming problematic. Has it ever been productive to think of ‘anime’ as only what the Japanese make?

In all senses of form, style and subject matter, Castlevania has screamed ‘anime’ to everyone. It’s only the production credits that hold some stubborn voices back from accepting it into the ‘anime’ sphere. If this is anime, they ask, then how do we draw the line between it and cartoons?

We need to revisit ‘anime’, as a loanword, in the wider context of how definitions develop. Continue reading →

Girls and Gears: The Problems with Male Mechaphilia

 

“This is a male thing […] With man stuff, the bigger the better. That’s been understood since the dawn of time. You’ve no business messing with our tradition.”

Squad Leader Charles Brenten, Dominion Tank Police

Being a man in a fanbase affords you some privileges. You’re the gender often assumed for random people online. You’re much less likely to be sexually harassment by other random people online. When you’re into something technical or technological, many would see it as natural; that there’s something ‘manly’ about science and such. From hobbies to career paths, a lot of people still look down on women taking ‘boys toys’ into their hands.  Continue reading →

The Pleasures of (Re-)Reading: Spoiling Stories for Better *And* Worse

A few days ago, Super Eyepatch Wolf released a video asking, “Do Spoilers Ruin Stories?”. It does a good job capturing the situation internet culture has led itself into: the seemingly closed case of spoilers ‘ruining’ what we watch, contrasted against the ease with which they flourish on social media. The older the tale, the less of a damn we give.

While many strive to keep themselves unspoiled when it comes to new shows airing each season, we’re comfortable with ‘spoiling’ what we regard as some of the greatest stories ever written. My own handle, ‘JekoJeko’, is derived from the ‘Jekyll Jekyll Hyde’ song of an episode of Arthur, which condensed the plot of Stevenson’s novel into a three minute parody piece. When I eventually came to read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I recalled the song before I began, and realized I had lost something valuable. Continue reading →

Omote, Ura and On: ERASED, Hanasaku Iroha and the Mother-Daughter Conflict

Families in fiction can feel like something universal. Loving your parents, and caring for your children, can strike us as things essential to our humanity; faulting them, likewise, can be monstrous.

But when we look across cultures, there is no single idea of ‘family’ that unites the world; household relationships are as much a product of our culture and society as the stories we tell about such structures. The families we see in anime are often readily understandable as though they were from the West, but there are details that become exposed when we tackle these stories with sensitivity to the way Japan thinks about its own families and social codes. Continue reading →

Dragon Maid and the Dissociative Imagination

The Western anime fandom can be rather reductive in how they consider ‘otaku’. Whenever they’re a point of discussion, the ‘otaku’ is usually figured by the community as male, casually perverted and distinctly out-of-touch with the world around them. Most of all, they’re billed as a pretty elitist group. As accurate as this may be in some cases, it’s overall inconsiderate in the picture it paints, as much as anime frequently reinforces that image. This season has seen something fresh come to our screens and streams, however: Kobayashi san Chi no Maid Dragon has been a bizarre and sometimes overwhelmingly adorable indulgence in the kind of ideal isekai otaku disconnect themselves into living within.

‘Cute girls doing cute things’ shows are known for their presentation of virtual, idealistic, accessible and fundamentally comforting worlds. Yet, Dragon Maid presents deviations from even the norms of this ‘genre’, depicting a mature Japanese salarywomen alongside a cast of widely varying age. Between Kanna’s elementary school and Kobayashi’s workplace, the high school which moe centers its sense of nostalgic escapism upon is missing. Episode titles are undercut by their subtitles, and over-exposure in the explicitly signified ‘fanservice’ episode is shunned rather than lauded. On the surface, these aspects of Dragon Maid promote a closer look at what kind of ‘world’ the show is drawing upon and modelling for its viewers. It’s not keeping in step with the trend of otaku-centered stories (thank God, there’s no light-novel MC), and it looks at itself with a sideways glance too. A closer comparison of what Dragon Maid presents against a wider idea of how otaku view and consume their media should therefore be productive. Continue reading →

Misunderstanding the Mukokuseki: Why Fanservice Is Not On the Fringe

“What is perhaps most striking about anime, compared to other imported media that have been modified for the American market, is the lack of compromise in making these narratives palatable.”

– Susan Pointon

“…what appears to be be the single most asked question about anime in America, “why is anime so full of sex and violence?” is an inquiry that, while betraying an ignorance of the complexity and variety of the art form, is still significant in that it reveals the bewilderment of Western audiences in confronting so-called adult themes within the animated medium.”

– Susan J Napier

I’m sure my country’s recent ban of various sex acts in pornography wasn’t on many people’s Christmas list. Not because of any particular fetishization of any of the practices listed; it’s alarming due to the sense of a growing trend journalistic fans of anime should be all to familiar with. The practically Victorian belief that our media must be purged of any images we (that is, the social elite that stand to represent and essentialize us) find morally unsavory, and the result being dominated by a limitation of the expressions of women in media, to serve as a condemnation of the ‘patriarchy’, the ‘male gaze’, and so on. Continue reading →

Quiet, Euphonium! I Want to Hear the Rest.

Hibike! Euphonium has nearly finished its second season. The storylines have been tight, weaving between the struggles of Kumiko’s senpai and chipping away the mask of Asuka, and Kumiko’s own reservations throughout it all. No-one can fault the talent that KyoAni have pulled together on this project. But even as all the details come together to make something magical, there’s something holding all of it back; a change from the show’s first run that undoes a lot of the synergy that initial arc established between musical performance, social dynamics and narrative style.

Continue reading →

Moe, Maturity and Reading Like a Man: Beneath the Surface of Shirobako

An anime about making anime and celebrating the industry wins multiple awards from the industry. Passing comments might be skeptical of how self-centered the anime business has become. But those who have watched Shirobako know well how deeply it deserves its accolades. It’s a coming-of-age story that abandons the typical high school setting, but retains the moe aesthetic for its femicentic main cast. Combining the realistic struggles of a workplace with the hyperreal glaze of cute girls and boundless enthusiasm, it’s got both reality and moe firmly in its heart, and comments often on how the two conflict and co-operate in various capacities.

The success of Shirobako has however attracted a lot of attention from critics seeking to downplay its value for women, affirm the lie of ‘anime is a boys club’ to fabricate outrage, and use the show as a platform for continuing the anti-moe sentiment permeating much of our Western community. Continue reading →

Porter Robinson finds Shelter in A-1 Pictures

Shelter tells the story of Rin, a 17-year-old girl who lives her life inside of a futuristic simulation completely by herself in infinite, beautiful loneliness. Each day, Rin awakens in virtual reality and uses a tablet which controls the simulation to create a new, different, beautiful world for herself. Until one day, everything changes, and Rin comes to learn the true origins behind her life inside a simulation.

A-1 Pictures get a lot of flak from the more ‘critical’ side of the anime community. From angst at the popularity of SAO to Youtuber Digibro’s well-documented hatred of the studio’s work, there’s a lot to debate about their artistic vision and how much commercial tunnel-vision they often suffer from, especially in their light novel adaptations.

But after seeing their short film for Porter Robinson and Madeon’s song ‘Shelter’, I can no longer entertain the idea that they’re the ‘McDonald’s’ of anime. Shelter is short, but it’s no fast food meal. It’s a precious example of everything that can be done when anime deviates from its commercial angle Continue reading →

Mahoutsukai no Yome’s Magical Realism

It can be hard, when telling a story about magic, to get the audience on the level of your imagination. As much as viewers may be willing to suspend disbelief, it takes far more work to get them enthralled in every moment of your world, and wanting to see more and more of it. But Mahoutsukai no Yome, ‘The Ancient Magus Bride’, a three-part OVA series set to air over the course of a year, has began its tale with a crash-course in how to effortlessly weave the mystical into the mundane.

Continue reading →

What’s the Matter with Moe? An Inside Look

Previously, The Mary Sue argued that we should be critical of ‘objectification’ by ignoring contexts of characterization and treating anime girls as no more than objects in the first place. Now they want the community to be ‘critical about cuteness’, as they vaguely denounce the ‘adult male’ viewership of moe as misogynistic, and conclude that moe is ‘alienating’ for those who want to see ‘real women’ in anime, and not the lovable and hyperreal figures modern Japanese culture is full of.

Continue reading →

UEM! is Now on Patreon!

When I started this blog, back in the summer of 2015, it was an offbeat idea I had to keep myself busy with something other than the revision I should have been doing. It was my first real venture into the many communities of anime lovers online. Over the year-and-bit that’s passed, I’ve made many friends, and annoyed a few more people than I should have with my endless rambling about why we need to question what makes anime, and all art, ‘good’. I’ve made so much progress as a blogger, and it’s all thanks to you guys.

Among the readers I’ve picked up, some fantastic conversations have been made. Some of the best have come from more recent articles, posts that are more than just elaborations of opinions. I’ve been tapping into wider reading and research, into theories about art and how we appreciate it, old and new, to fill this blog with new ideas which are challenging and developing my own.

I recently wrote a post defending my pursuit into seeing anime from an academic lens. Now I want to follow up on that post by cementing this blog’s vision – to bridge the gap between popular anime and puzzling academia. To spell out exciting theories in relation to anime we’re all familiar with. But to achieve this – to further the work of channels like Pause and Select and Philosophy Tube in making the academics make sense – I’m going to need some help.

Today I’m launching a Patreon.

Continue reading →

A Defense of Academia: Why Reading Matters

Over the past year I have, out of instinctive habit, established a status quo of researching any idea I have a concern about. Every great essayist, past and present, has taught me that your own ideas aren’t enough to persuade people towards your opinion. Processing the efforts of others, in agreement and disagreement and neutral puzzling-out, is what elevates a discussion from casual to critical. Criticism basks in the glow of research, and better critics are almost inevitably marked by how much more they have read, and how much better they approach their studies. It’s a profession like any other – the harder you work, the more credit you deserve.

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About those Impressions

If you’ve been following this blog, you’d have probably notice that I’m behind on weekly Impressions. Close to two weeks behind now.

While previous and similar lapses have been due to illness, the problem I’m facing this week, after promising to catch up in the most recent Impressions post, isn’t that I’m ill. It’s not that I lack the motivation to blog or watch anime either; in a couple of days I cranked out a 5000 word article on my issues with The Mary Sue’s approach to anime. That was last week, and it got me thinking: I want to do more of that.

And that got me thinking about how little value I feel is in these weekly Impressions posts.

Continue reading →