Debating Otaku offers a cogent introduction and a well-conceived series of essays that bring into focus not only the various socio-historical strands contributing to the discursive construction of otaku, but also the polemical stances that have made the term otaku central to debates about media and society in Japan. This collection succeeds beautifully in its central mission: to introduce a pause, a moment of hesitation, into the headlong rush of statements in circulation about Japanese youth, consumption, and pop culture. It will make you think again about otaku, and again. Thomas Lamarre, James McGill Professor in East Asian Studies, McGill University, CanadaVom Verlag:
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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