Otaku and the Struggle for Imagination in Japan

Otaku and the Struggle for Imagination in Japan
Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: 95 illustrations Published: December 2019

Subjects
Anthropology, Asian Studies > East Asia, Cultural Studies

From computer games to figurines and maid cafes, men called “otaku” develop intense fan relationships with “cute girl” characters from manga, anime, and related media and material in contemporary Japan. While much of the Japanese public considers the forms of character love associated with “otaku” to be weird and perverse, the Japanese government has endeavored to incorporate “otaku” culture into its branding of “Cool Japan.” In Otaku and the Struggle for Imagination in Japan, Patrick W. Galbraith explores the conflicting meanings of “otaku” culture and its significance to Japanese popular culture, masculinity, and the nation. Tracing the history of “otaku” and “cute girl” characters from their origins in the 1970s to his recent fieldwork in Akihabara, Tokyo (“the Holy Land of Otaku”), Galbraith contends that the discourse surrounding “otaku” reveals tensions surrounding contested notions of gender, sexuality, and ways of imagining the nation that extend far beyond Japan. At the same time, in their relationships with characters and one another, “otaku” are imagining and creating alternative social worlds.

Praise

“In this tremendous book, Patrick Galbraith brings to life the relatively unknown world of Japanese popular culture. His voice shines throughout thoughtful interviews, detailed ethnography, sensitive portraits of people characterized as ‘otaku,’ and nuanced readings of videogames and interactive fiction. An impressive contribution to the field of manga and anime studies.” — Ian Condry, author of The Soul of Anime: Collaborative Creativity and Japan’s Media Success Story


“This book offers nothing less than a thorough rethinking of normative sexuality and alternative sexualities through the figure of the otaku and their practices. It's everything that the fields of Japan studies, queer theory, and media history need at this moment. A virtually flawless and captivating read.” — Marc Steinberg, author of Anime’s Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Patrick W. Galbraith is a lecturer at Senshu University in Tokyo. He is the author of The Moe Manifesto: An Insider's Look at the Worlds of Manga, Anime, and Gaming, coauthor of AKB48, and coeditor of Idols and Celebrity in Japanese Media Culture.

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Table of Contents Forthcoming
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0629-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0509-4
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