July 18, 2007

In class, we talked about superflat theory and the superflat artist, Takashi Murakami.

Turns out he did the cover art for Kanye West’s new single, “Stronger”!

Check out the news link:

from pitchforkmedia.com

How cool is that cover?!


problems with “Ladies’ Comics”

June 8, 2007

 Again, I apologize for posting my reading questions late.

Jones makes a good case for pornographic manga, but I think that “bad girls who like to look” are, in the end, (in the words of Catherine MacKinnon) still vicariously working out the fantasies of men. Just because the ladies’ comics provide a venue for women to express and experiment with various sexual desires doesn’t mean that some (or most) of these desires are autonomously conceived. If, indeed, manga and anime are so integral to the shaping of gender identification and relations between the sexes (as Napier suggests), then wouldn’t it be irresponsible of Jones to neglect the informative aspect of anime and manga? As with any mass medium, shouldn’t we consider the influence of the representation (on the subject) as well as what is reflected (from the subject) in the representation? In other words, don’t social constructions create our identities as much as we create social constructions? If such a construction perpetuates a motif of explicit abuse, is it “ethically” okay to identify with it upon awareness of its effects? And this makes me wonder: what is the mentality of the gang rapists mentioned in the anecdotes of ladies’ comics readers? To link this train of thought to our class today, I ask yet another question: to what extent are the “male” actresses in Takarazuka even more directly living the vicarious life of the masculine fantasy?

eroticism and nonesense

June 8, 2007

It seems like the popularity of manga can be explained not only by its efficiency in entertaining but also by its motif of creating a fantastical hyperbole of the mundane elements of life. Since so much time is spent on manga, it is then, presumably, very important in the shaping of people’s conscious notion of the self as well as the subconscious fantasy. Why, then are eroticism and nonesense so prevalent in manga? What does this prevalence tell us about manga readers, how they are affected by their society, and how they influence the art of manga?

Prototype World Citizen

May 31, 2007

Given the increasingly global presence of anime/manga, especially in America, I had to ask week 10’s guest Beryl Turner—the head of ACEN, anime/manga aficionado and historian extraordinaire—whether he sees anime and manga in America losing its Japanese connection and become totally subsumed into mainstream American pop culture. His answer? Absolutely. According to Beryl Turner anime and manga will be a prototype for what globalization is touted to do in the best sense—create a sort of world citizenry. He believes that manga and anime as an art form will eventually lose its nationality, and I am inclined to agree. The one issue, however, is the nature of anime/manga fans in America in the past and at present. Even Beryl acknowledged, giving this breakdown of the road map to mainstream status—innovation/discovery, dissemination through the underground as a fringe movement, (re)discovery and tentative investment from Big Business and the explosion—that anime and manga has its roots in the underground. Furthermore, considering that anime/manga fans while extremely inclusive of fans of other genres such as science fiction, still refer to the collective other as “mundanes.” It is hard to see this group of people forgetting the history behind their beloved art form.

I suppose then, that the key to transforming anime/manga into a global commodity sans national boundaries, lies in the unwitting masses who never touch the underground and never make it to a convention like ACEN, those who flip to Cartoon Network and get their first glimpse of Bleach, then head to a bookstore like Barnes and Nobles or Borders and pick up a copy of the manga along with a title by an American author and never bother to dig further. Is this positive? Negative? I can’t say. I am all for the more prevalent exposure of anime and manga in the West and around the world, but then I am also one of those people who likes to stick to the facts, and for me one of the facts here is that manga is Japanese. Still, I would hate to see an authenticity debate rear its head in this quarter. Maybe I should say manga was Japanese, but today and in the future it can and will go in whatever direction its progressively more global fans pull.

Addie & Beryl

May 31, 2007

Today’s discussion with Addie and Beryl was pretty interesting, and brought to light a number of things that I wouldn’t have guessed. For instance, that all of the staff and volunteers at ACen, including those who would probably be considered “higher-ups”, were unpaid volunteers; Anime Central, then, is most definitely a labor of love (or obsession/addiction, haha. But I like to think of it as love. ^^). Though I think that the only difference in atmosphere that I felt at ACen vs. Anime Expo, a commercially sponsored Con, was mainly in the dealers room, where there would be HUGE booths for each sponsoring company, as well as the number of panels on “what’s coming up for [company name] in anime” type things, as well as a larger number of advertisements in general (programming booklet etc.). However, the fan interaction, I found is this pretty much the same, which is somewhat reassuring (of the fact that an increased sense of commercialism in the exhibit hall does not equal a different kind of fan-base.)

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ACEN! Beryl!

May 30, 2007

I really enjoyed talking to Beryl today. He was a fun person to talk to and it was awesome to get a behind the scenes look at the con. Addie was awesome, too, and his artwork was great.

It was funny when someone asked Beryl if he considered himself an otaku, he responded with a “DAMN STRAIGHT!” It really reinforced the idea that in America, cons and otaku are all about community. I could really sense a strong sense of community at ACEN.

I had no idea ACEN could draw around 12,000~14,000 people. That number is INSANE. It really put things into perspective about the popularity of manga and anime today. It was also interesting that Beryl mentioned how science fiction cons that have existed for over 10 years cannot match the attendance rate at ACEN. To be fair, I think a lot more young people are into manga/anime than science fiction today, which could be a reason for their mass appeal.

All in all, Beryl’s visit was fun and he was really friendly. ACEN was lucky to have him as the chairperson this year!


May 30, 2007

Beryl the ACen Chairman and his artist friend visited us today in class. Beryl was a very enthusiastic guest to have! It was great to see how much he and his colleague were both very excited about talking to us about Acen. It was interesting to hear about what went on behind the scenes. I’m so suprised that they do everything as volunteers. That is some dedication. I thought that maybe some of the higher level staff actually ran the Acen as their full time job, but I guess I was wrong. It’s amazing that such a huge (12,000+!) convention can be run by purely volunteers. That shows how much passion and devotion these fans have for anime/manga/games. I think it’s a great philosophy that they stick to, run by fans, for fans!

They showed us interesting pictures from ACen and Beryl told us many funny stories from past Acen’s. His story about how he had to sit on the shoplifter was really interesting. It was also amazing that his cosplay costume was one too realistic (it had weapons) so the police/security had to come and tell them to disarm themselves!

Wow, Got Soap? That is an amazing campaign. It is odd that they must remind people to shower everyday! Nevertheless it’s very creative. I really liked the way Beryl defined Acen. He stated that Acen will always be “a celebration of culture”. I really think it’s great to bring a mix diverse group of people to one place to celebrate their appreciation for culture. I also was really intrigued by the word “mundane” that anime fans use to describe people like us, that are not part of that world. It is really suprising that J.K. Rowling got the inspiration of “muggles” for her Harry Potter books from overhearing the word Mundane. I guess anime is an inspiration for many different media. It is also interesting that they are branching out to Jpop, and trying to attract various kinds of people that all have some type of Japanese pop culture to share. I enjoyed today’s class, and their special visit. I really thought the artist’s Chibbie Chubbies(sp?) was super cute! However I still felt a bit overwhelmed whenever Beryl and his friend started talking about specific anime series. I guess that’s just somethin I will not understand until I myself start reading anime as Beryl suggested.

Thank you for coming to our class !

– Miho