Bits of Understanding: Repression & Dominance

As our class saw in a Genshiken screening during our class on otaku masculinities, the concept of “otaku fictions” have to do both with the perception through which otaku audiences, particularly male ones, really have and are portrayed to have. Anime like Genshiken provide the otaku members of their audience with a variety of relatable characters, from the newbie who seems shy of his otakuness to the sempai who have fully embraced stereotypical traits of an otaku. These traits range from staying inside all day watching anime to less more characteristically perverse hobbies, like collecting sexually compelling anime figurines with realistic panties. As Thomas Lamarre contemples in his paper Cool, Creepy, Moé: Otaku Fictions, Discourses, and Policies, generally otaku characters in anime hide their otaku-ness, ashamed, fearful of exposure. Therefore, living a double life between social repression and secret indulgence in vices plays a huge role in otaku culture and understanding– a role that impacts their understanding of eroticism. Continue reading

Salaryman masculinity

The masculine stereotype of Japan, the salaryman, is an interesting concept; from the perspective of corporations it looks incredibly valiant and humane, while from a personal, family, or even an outsider perspective it appears to be machine-like, devoid of personality and happiness. The salaryman concept rationalizes not spending time with the family because the man has to provide for the family, so they rarely interact with them because the company they work for is the salaryman’s “actual family” and should be their main priority. This will lead to the salaryman feeling like he has led an unfulfilled life because the he will miss out on the human experience of meaningful relationships with others, instead devoting himself to a world where he can easily be discarded and replaced. Continue reading

The Diabolical Genius of Moe Anime

(WataMote, a series about a socially awkward “otaku” girl)

These days, any avid anime viewer will probably be aware of the prominence of what has essentially become a “moe” genre in the industry. Generally, one can bet that with each anime “season” during that year, there’s gonna be at least a few of those slice-of-life type shows about “cute girls doing cute things.” Continue reading

Shōnen, Shōjo, and Toxic Masculinity?

 (Fist of the North Star)

Well-known gendered categories within anime/manga include Shōnen (少年 – targeted towards teenage boys), Seinen (成年 – targeted towards adult men), Shōjo (少女 – targeted towards young girls), and Josei (女性 – targeted towards adult women). Simply put, anime and manga often feed off of gendered biases and stereotypes in order to make the big bucks $$$. In recent years, more and more anime fans have worked to dilute the barriers between “for men” and “for women” anime and manga. However, I want to argue that female-identifying fans are more likely and willing to become fans of “for men” anime than male-identifying fans are towards “for women” anime, even though the Seinen and Shōnen categories often have fewer fully-developed female characters. Continue reading