Recentering Globalization: Popular Culture and Japanese Transnationalism

Duke University Press
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Globalization is usually thought of as the worldwide spread of Western—particularly American—popular culture. Yet if one nation stands out in the dissemination of pop culture in East and Southeast Asia, it is Japan. Pokémon, anime, pop music, television dramas such as Tokyo Love Story and Long Vacation—the export of Japanese media and culture is big business. In Recentering Globalization, Koichi Iwabuchi explores how Japanese popular culture circulates in Asia. He situates the rise of Japan’s cultural power in light of decentering globalization processes and demonstrates how Japan’s extensive cultural interactions with the other parts of Asia complicate its sense of being "in but above" or "similar but superior to" the region.

Iwabuchi has conducted extensive interviews with producers, promoters, and consumers of popular culture in Japan and East Asia. Drawing upon this research, he analyzes Japan’s "localizing" strategy of repackaging Western pop culture for Asian consumption and the ways Japanese popular culture arouses regional cultural resonances. He considers how transnational cultural flows are experienced differently in various geographic areas by looking at bilateral cultural flows in East Asia. He shows how Japanese popular music and television dramas are promoted and understood in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and how "Asian" popular culture (especially Hong Kong’s) is received in Japan.

Rich in empirical detail and theoretical insight, Recentering Globalization is a significant contribution to thinking about cultural globalization and transnationalism, particularly in the context of East Asian cultural studies.

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About the author

Koichi Iwabuchi is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Waseda University in Tokyo. For many years he was a reporter and producer for Nippon Television Network Corporation (ntv).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Nov 8, 2002
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Pages
286
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ISBN
9780822384083
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / Japan
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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With the spread of manga (Japanese comics) and anime (Japanese cartoons) around the world, many have adopted the Japanese term 'otaku' to identify fans of such media. The connection to manga and anime may seem straightforward, but, when taken for granted, often serves to obscure the debates within and around media fandom in Japan since the term 'otaku' appeared in the niche publication Manga Burikko in 1983.

Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan disrupts the naturalization and trivialization of 'otaku' by examining the historical contingency of the term as a way to identify and contain problematic youth, consumers and fan cultures in Japan. Its chapters, many translated from Japanese and available in English for the first time – and with a foreword by Otsuka Eiji, former editor of Manga Burikko – explore key moments in the evolving discourse of 'otaku' in Japan. Rather than presenting a smooth, triumphant narrative of the transition of a subculture to the mainstream, the edited volume repositions 'otaku' in specific historical, social and economic contexts, providing new insights into the significance of the 'otaku' phenomenon in Japan and the world.

By going back to original Japanese documents, translating key contributions by Japanese scholars and offering sustained analysis of these documents and scholars, Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan provides alternative histories of and approaches to 'otaku'. For all students and scholars of contemporary Japan and the history of Japanese fan and consumer cultures, this volume will be a foundation for understanding how 'otaku', at different places and times and to different people, is meaningful.
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In Contesting the Myths of Samurai Baseball Keaveney analyzes the persistent appeal of such mythologizing, arguing that the sport has been serving as a repository for traditional values, to which the Japanese have returned time and again in epochs of uncertainty and change. Baseball and modern culture emerged and developed side by side in Japan, giving cultural representations of this national pastime special insights into Japanese values and their contortions from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Keaveney explains the origins of the cultural construct “Samurai baseball” and reflects on the recurrences of these essentialist discourses at critical junctures in Japan’s modern history. Since the early modern period, writers, filmmakers, and manga artists have alternately affirmed and debunked these popular myths of baseball. This study presents an overview of these cultural products, beginning with Masaoka Shiki’s pioneering baseball writings, then moves on to the long history of baseball films and the venerable tradition of baseball fiction, and finally considers the substantial body of baseball manga and anime. Perhaps what is most striking is the continuous relevance of baseball and its values as a point of cultural reference for the Japanese people; their engagement with baseball is a genuine national love affair.

“A fascinating study of samurai baseball and the culture it represents viewed through historical and contemporary literature, poetry, manga, and movies. An important, original work that is full of insights. Christopher Keaveney has put enormous effort into researching this book and he is to be congratulated. I learned a lot by reading it.” —Robert Whiting, author of You Gotta Have Wa and The Meaning of Ichiro

“Keaveney’s book offers a nuanced introduction to the Japanese model of samurai baseball along with an analysis of many of the works that treat the guiding principles of that model. A fresh look at Japan’s national pastime.” —Bobby Valentine, former MLB player and manager and former manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball

“Christopher Keaveney effortlessly combines a thorough knowledge of Japanese baseball—its players, managers, fans—with the cultural productions surrounding it. The result is a nostalgic trip through history and an edifying survey of literature, film, and manga.” —David Desser, professor emeritus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The classic samurai novel about the real exploits of the most famous swordsman.

Miyamoto Musashi was the child of an era when Japan was emerging from decades of civil strife. Lured to the great Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 by the hope of becoming a samurai--without really knowing what it meant--he regains consciousness after the battle to find himself lying defeated, dazed and wounded among thousands of the dead and dying. On his way home, he commits a rash act, becomes a fugitive and brings life in his own village to a standstill--until he is captured by a weaponless Zen monk.

The lovely Otsu, seeing in Musashi her ideal of manliness, frees him from his tortuous punishment, but he is recaptured and imprisoned. During three years of solitary confinement, he delves into the classics of Japan and China. When he is set free again, he rejects the position of samurai and for the next several years pursues his goal relentlessly, looking neither to left nor to right.

Ever so slowly it dawns on him that following the Way of the Sword is not simply a matter of finding a target for his brute strength. Continually striving to perfect his technique, which leads him to a unique style of fighting with two swords simultaneously, he travels far and wide, challenging fighters of many disciplines, taking nature to be his ultimate and severest teacher and undergoing the rigorous training of those who follow the Way. He is supremely successful in his encounters, but in the Art of War he perceives the way of peaceful and prosperous governance and disciplines himself to be a real human being.

He becomes a reluctant hero to a host of people whose lives he has touched and been touched by. And, inevitably, he has to pit his skill against the naked blade of his greatest rival.

Musashi is a novel in the best tradition of Japanese story telling. It is a living story, subtle and imaginative, teeming with memorable characters, many of them historical. Interweaving themes of unrequited love, misguided revenge, filial piety and absolute dedication to the Way of the Samurai, it depicts vividly a world Westerners know only vaguely. Full of gusto and humor, it has an epic quality and universal appeal.

The novel was made into a three-part movie by Director Hiroshi Inagai. For more information, visit the Shopping area
Initially developed in Japan by Nintendo as a computer game, Pokémon swept the globe in the late 1990s. Based on a narrative in which a group of children capture, train, and do battle with over a hundred imaginary creatures, Pokémon quickly diversified into an array of popular products including comic books, a TV show, movies, trading cards, stickers, toys, and clothing. Pokémon eventually became the top grossing children's product of all time. Yet the phenomenon fizzled as quickly as it had ignited. By 2002, the Pokémon craze was mostly over. Pikachu’s Global Adventure describes the spectacular, complex, and unpredictable rise and fall of Pokémon in countries around the world.

In analyzing the popularity of Pokémon, this innovative volume addresses core debates about the globalization of popular culture and about children’s consumption of mass-produced culture. Topics explored include the origins of Pokémon in Japan’s valorization of cuteness and traditions of insect collecting and anime; the efforts of Japanese producers and American marketers to localize it for foreign markets by muting its sex, violence, moral ambiguity, and general feeling of Japaneseness; debates about children’s vulnerability versus agency as consumers; and the contentious question of Pokémon’s educational value and place in school. The contributors include teachers as well as scholars from the fields of anthropology, media studies, sociology, and education. Tracking the reception of Pokémon in Japan, the United States, Great Britain, France, and Israel, they emphasize its significance as the first Japanese cultural product to enjoy substantial worldwide success and challenge western dominance in the global production and circulation of cultural goods.

Contributors. Anne Allison, Linda-Renée Bloch, Helen Bromley, Gilles Brougere, David Buckingham, Koichi Iwabuchi, Hirofumi Katsuno, Dafna Lemish, Jeffrey Maret, Julian Sefton-Green, Joseph Tobin, Samuel Tobin, Rebekah Willet, Christine Yano

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