Japanese Subculture

Discuss

64 Responses to “Japanese Subculture”

  1. Peter says:

    I’m certainly okay with making it legal to marry 2D characters. But only after we get functional AI such that they can be considered sentient being. There’s long been a solution to those wishing to be married to a fictional character… fictional marriages. Anything beyond that requires them to _actually_ consent to the marriage, something fictional characters cannot do, not being actual.

  2. Katerade says:

    Eee! Tachikoma! :)

  3. Darren Garrison says:

    “It’s surprising that you do not see the qualitative differences in these works.”

    It is just that I don’t know if those qualitative differences– even if they are there– are meaningful. Guys like different things for girls. Therefore, porn made for girls by girls is not going to be exactly the same (with the sex of the models swapped) as porn made for guys by guys. (And yes, men really do look at half-naked women as objects: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/02/19/women.bikinis.objects/index.html?iref=mpstoryview )

    Another term for you to browse would be shoujo manga– you want to see enormous eyes, that genre seems to have the biggest ones of all: http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&safe=off&q=shoujo+manga&btnG=Search+Images

    Lastly, back on the subject of “wanting to marry” anime/manga characters, well– it depends on how literal/serious they are about that. You can have emotional reactions to fictional characters in any medium– including books and animation and not just live-action. Caring for the characters is a sign of well written fiction.

  4. bbonyx says:

    After cruising through your Japanese Idols section I just want to say “Danny Choo, you’re the kinda guy I’d *really* like to hang out with”

  5. Ugly Canuck says:

    Pythagora switchu!
    Any culture that produces this kind of stuff for kids TV is ok in my book. Very Rube Goldberg-y.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFUhzAHTkvw

    Thanx to DVD Savant for the heads-up.

  6. Sean Blueart says:

    If I’m reading this image correctly, there is no difference between these two, 2-D, images of a woman. One is a photo of a “pinup” playing a role, and the other is a cartoon. Neither are human, neither seem to speak to an actual, human woman. They’re both fantasy images that come alive more in the imagination of one who desires than in reality.

    My point is that it takes two different, unique beings, each with an individual will to make a relationship. Neither of these images have a will.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Seems perfectly logical. how could the fictional character accept the proposal though? they don’t pay taxes, and have no citizenship.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I can vouch for the popularity of 2D characters in the USA. Anime websites and the sales of mangas have started to take the teenage crowd by storm. My teen daughter has a blog that is devoted to anime and manga gossip and artwork. Her blog gets lots of traffic. She is so involved with anime she is considering a future career as an anime artist. Her blog with her artwork is at myuniques.blogspot.com I will understand if you don’t wish to publish this comment. I just wanted to let your readers know that the popularity of 2D characters is growing in the USA as well.

  9. elguapostrikes says:

    @52
    i lol’d

  10. lizziegolightly says:

    Question for Danny: I’m a big fan of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and, in the versions I’ve seen (English subbed and dubbed), the show always seemed to me as a satire, with Mikuru Asahina as a send-up of the moe/cute, kind of helpless female archetype in anime. So, it struck me as interesting that she was singled out in the petition blurb. What are your thoughts on this? Also, are 2D loves limited to female characters?

    Also, I wanted to add that I’m in agreement with JeffV’s comments to the editors. I would love to read more guest blogs from people living across the globe.

  11. Cicada says:

    I’m guessing this is one more thing contributing to the low Japanese birthrate…

  12. Jeff says:

    I’ve been interested in Japanese culture for a while and have enjoyed the posts. I don’t like the entire little girl porno look. The same “Catholic school girl” fetish is found in American culture, but it’s not glorified like it is in Japan. But, for all I know most women want to look like big-eyed pixies with huge boobs.

  13. urederra says:

    The marrying 2D characters is plainly stupid.
    And I also have a complaint about the blog title of the guest blogger. Why does he say “Japanese SUBculture”? I don’t like the implications of the sufix Sub. Does it indicate that the Japan does not have a full grown culture and therefore it should be called SUBculture? It is not fully developed? It is a culture made by lesser minded people?

    Frankly, I don’t get it. it looks to me something in between snob and racist.

  14. thickdot says:

    Subculture: a social group within a national culture that has distinctive patterns of behavior and beliefs

    http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

  15. jasonq says:

    And I also have a complaint about the blog title of the guest blogger. Why does he say “Japanese SUBculture”? I don’t like the implications of the sufix Sub. Does it indicate that the Japan does not have a full grown culture and therefore it should be called SUBculture? It is not fully developed? It is a culture made by lesser minded people?

    Frankly, I don’t get it. it looks to me something in between snob and racist.

    Knee-jerk much?

    Yes, Danny Choo is referring to a millennia-old culture as somehow being lesser and subhuman. [eyeroll]

    Jeebus Chrise. That someone who wrote such an articulate paragraph could not know the meaning of “subculture” beggars belief.

    Oh, and to be on topic – someone who wants to marry a cartoon needs therapy and medication.

  16. Anonymous says:

    All this discussion is interesting, but on the other hand I’d advise against reading too deeply into the online antics of Japanese otaku. They take just as much pleasure in “freaking out the squares” as, say, the SomethingAwful goons or the Anonymous collective.

  17. Jeff says:

    Urederra, I think “sub” is just a way of saying it’s underer the surface–like a dirty little secret. So I agree with you, there is nothing sub about this stuff. Where as something like Steampunk is subculture because it’s all based on the wierdo interior decorating style invented by Captian Nemo for the Nautilus. Which was a submarine, of course.

  18. Kayube says:

    So… how exactly could the fictional characters give consent to marriage anyway? Would the original creators have to agree? Would the person who wanted to marry the character have to get written into the story? How exactly would this work?

  19. Shay Guy says:

    A while ago, this was linked on TV Tropes (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/IAmNotMakingThisUp/RealLife). I decided that I wanted to see a coming-of-age story in the form of a Haruhi Suzumiya self-insertion fanfiction (minus the “self” part — yeah, it’s been done) starring a Japanese otaku.

  20. urederra says:

    “Subculture: a social group within a national culture that has distinctive patterns of behavior and beliefs’

    That doesn’t fit with the Japanese culture. What social group are we talking about? What is the national culture that so called subculture belongs to?

    on the other hand. http://www.webster.com had another entry for subculture.

    : a culture (as of bacteria) derived from another culture b: an act or instance of producing a subculture

    I still think the name of the blog is SUBstandard.

    I love Choo’s posts, though.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Great…now a million-and-a-half “Twilight” fangirls will be opting to marry Edward Cullen…

  22. edinblack says:

    But wait a minute: won’t the first person who marries Asahina Mikuru ruin it for all the thousands of others who got there too late?

  23. MisterEd says:

    Meh. Everyone knows Nagato Yuki is the superior waifu.

  24. ViolettVerq says:

    So ronery.

  25. benher says:

    @47 That’s funny, the whole thing reminds me of “certain privileged academics” in the West who see fit to offer their uninvited and unwelcome cultural critiques on other people’s from a safe distance… who are always safe to hide behind the ‘protecting children and puppies and kittens’ defense.

  26. Boeotian says:

    I’m not against it, and I don’t mean to come off as a simple-minded person, but I really don’t get it. I mean, what’s the point? what would you benefit from marrying a 2d character? It changes nothing for you.
    No problem with loving them (not for me, but who am I to judge? vive la différence), but marrying, seems to be pointless.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if this type of thinking of women as 2d is related to this type of thinking:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTxZXKsJdGU&feature=related

  28. dculberson says:

    urederra, he’s referring to the group that wants to marry 2d characters as a subculture. Surely you’re not proposing that every Japanese person wants to marry a cartoon? No? Then they are subculture. Since they’re Japanese people, they are a Japanese subculture.

  29. wangleberry says:

    There is a word for people who find those type of child-like girls sexually attractive: paedophiles. 2D or 3D, makes no difference. it amazes me how society has been accepting of it for so long. *sickened*

  30. sswaan says:

    Jeff @ #9: This has been my reaction too (including generally enjoying Danny Choo’s posts). I feel like even saying so labels me as a prude or a second wave feminist (will saying that I’m neither dampen that?), but I have a visceral reaction to this imagery. It just feels creepy. That’s not to say that idealized images of women in the U.S. can’t be, as well, but there is something about these young-looking women with their coy looks and their underpants showing that are just disturbing to me.

    I’m willing to learn. Is there a context I’m missing? Do these images appeal to just certain groups in Japan, or are they for mass consumption? How are these images received by a broad range of Japanese women? (Understanding that women play into idealized images, too, and so their enjoyment of them may not necessarily convince me that they’re okay.)

  31. LogicalDash says:

    I am for legalizing marriage between 2D and 3D, provided that the 2D member of the relationship appears on an episode of their show, installment of their manga, or what-have-you and therein participates in their half of the wedding ceremony.

    Doujinshi don’t count. Omake? Only if it takes place in the same continuity as the rest of the series. If the character in question was portrayed out-of-character at the time, then it was really a different character.

    The character also has grounds for divorce if the 3D component of the relationship fails to provide the appropriate support, eg. keeping the series running so that the 2D character can continue to exist. So, basically, you’ve just entered a contract to pay the creators money for no reason.

    Enjoy!

  32. Teapunk says:

    … and this is why there is the weird prejudice in the world that Japanese men are child porn perverts.
    Luckily, most otaku stay true to their name (“at home”) and stay there. But these guys are a huge market and extremely well catered for with picture books of girls of all ages, but more often than not pre-teen ones, in 2 D and 3 D.
    Most Japanese women I know try to ignore this, these otaku are regarded as somewhat icky, and noone I know would go out with someone who is openly into this kind of stuff.
    Which isn’t anything the otakus want, as far as I understand it, they are not into real relationships. It’s kind of a circle that feeds on itself, real girls aren’t interested in otaku because they are interested in anime porn and otaku can’t get a real girl so he stays in the safe world of pictures.

    I myself, as a prude feminist prune, am quite disgusted by all this.
    But I think these guys should be allowed to marry their anime girls, it gets them off the street and they don’t harm anyone. As said, it’s not like they could ever get married to anyone else.
    Yes, even after Densha Otoko.

  33. sswaan says:

    And, btw, I’m including the woman on the left – the so-called “3D Woman” in this. Why isn’t she wearing any pants?

  34. Daemon says:

    @teapunk – First, you obviously believe the stereotypes, and thus automatically lose all credibility on the subject.

    Second, you’re totally ignoring all the female otaku, such as the fujoshi, in your little diatribe. You fail as a feminist for ignoring the females.

  35. sswaan says:

    Darren @ 40: “It is just that I don’t know if those qualitative differences– even if they are there– are meaningful.”

    I think they are meaningful, but I only pointed them out because you brought up the issue, implying that my uneasiness with this imagery is invalid because there is a male version. What I was doing was showing how they are different, and how that difference speaks directly to the relationship of power between the viewer and the subject.

    That power relationship, after all, is what this “marriage” question is all about, isn’t it? These men aren’t looking for a partnership, they’re looking for ownership.

    Sean @ 41: “Neither are human, neither seem to speak to an actual, human woman. They’re both fantasy images that come alive more in the imagination of one who desires than in reality.

    My point is that it takes two different, unique beings, each with an individual will to make a relationship. Neither of these images have a will.”

    Exactly.

  36. Darren Garrison says:

    “Second, you’re totally ignoring all the female otaku, such as the fujoshi, in your little diatribe. You fail as a feminist for ignoring the females.”

    Exactly. For example:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaoi

    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=yaoi&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

    http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&safe=off&q=%E3%82%84%E3%81%8A%E3%81%84&btnG=Search+Images

  37. Takuan says:

    “sub” means component piece as in “sub-assembly”. Japanese culture IS a culture of subcultures the same way Tokyo IS a village. Every cliche ever taught about “group” in Japan remains true and every Japanese is a rugged individualist inside. Understand this and you can live there.

  38. Darren Garrison says:

    54:

    @52
    i lol’d

    Yes, there remains a great unmet demand for pornography in which the provocatively dressed girl insists that you’re “sweet” and that “she just wants to be friends” while she spills her guts to you about how her jock boyfriend doesn’t understand her, but who then quickly falls back into his arms and bed again after the most perfunctory of apologies on his part. But despite extensive research, the artists haven’t figured out how to draw that yet.

  39. Glossolalia Black says:

    As a creator, I would be a bit frightened and somewhat bemused if any of my own characters became fodder for other people’s fantasies. I would also be a bit flattered, in a sick way.

    Mostly, I’d want to sit down and talk with the guy under the premise that I was his love’s creator, and therefore he’d have to get my permission. But then I’d just handle it like a regular person and ask him shit like “Why?” and “What kind of happiness are you looking for?”

    Real people are disappointing to people who feel the compulsive need for control over their environments. Control freaks don’t take well to the whims of others. If I wrote a character who was as, dare I say, weak and easily-overpowered as this particular character, I’d want to know about this angry, hidden part of his personality. And talk with him about it.

  40. rationalist says:

    One of the things this discussion reveals is the degree to which certain subcultures in the West have fetishized the notion of not judging behavior simply because it is conducted by “dem exotic foreigners”.

    The infantilization=sexualization meme directed towards women in Japan is not just an innocent “I wanna marry 2D” thing; there are serious issues with public molestation, sexual harassment and abuse in Japan (just as there are elsewhere in the world).

    I think refusing to say it is wrong to promote a culture of sexualizing children and infantilizing women, just because it is foreign and exotic is hypocritical and counterproductive.

    This kind of exploitive crap has real-world consequences, and both men and women should not hesitate to point them out, whether they are in the guise of cutsie anime porn in Japan or whatever.

    It reminds me of certain privileged academics in the West who defend genital mutilation in Africa as a “cultural artifact” of anthropological value that should neither be condemned nor combatted.

    The underlying issue is valuing human dignity, respect and equality, and those are values that should transcend cultural differences.

    YMMV, but a mile is still 1.609344 kilometers.

  41. urederra says:

    sure you guys don’t like to read about the American Subculture…

  42. Teller says:

    Make sure you guys talk. Are the children going to be raised human or 2d? Is her elementary school loan paid up? What if in a couple years she wants 3d augmentation surgery? Get this stuff in the prenup.

  43. Xopher says:

    About any of the many American subcultures. Danny, maybe you should put a label on each subculture you discuss. Urederra, it’s not THE Japanese subculture, it’s about A Japanese subculture: Otaku 2D pervo-wackos.

  44. Takuan says:

    they’re looking for permission for social fail.

  45. Darren Garrison says:

    “How exactly does yaoi make the existence of child pornography okay?”

    And who, exactly, was making that argument? It certainly wasn’t anyone posting in this thread so far. In fact, nobody was discussing “child pornography” at all. The tangent thread was “otakus are icky” followed by “oh yeah, there are female otakus, too” followed by “yeah, here are some examples of stuff that they like, they can be creepy, too” followed by the odd logic that since the female characters are looking towards the viewer, that somehow means that they are in a submissive role in a power structure (which seems like a non sequitur to me). As for your claim that this is a thread about child porn, and that I am attempting to justify child porn with the existence of yaoi– I don’t know if I should concider that a non sequitur, a straw man, or both.

  46. Darren Garrison says:

    “Girls are usually depicted as sex objects happy to be molested.”

    Gee, males like porn about girls that want to have sex with them. Alert the presses! You’ve made a major discovery there!

  47. BlindKarma says:

    I agree with Xopher @#3. Who speaks for those that can’t speak for themselves. Be the voice of the voiceless and oppose this heinous online petition.

  48. johnocomedy says:

    Ironically, the link to Asahina Mikuru contains photos of 3D versions of a 2D fiance.

  49. sswaan says:

    Again, I don’t know much about this in particular, but looking at your links, Darren, I see several differences between Yaoi and the images of young women:

    The men in Yaoi tend to be shown in couples, having sex or embracing, looking at each other — relating to each other. On the other hand, the young women are much more likely to be depicted alone or at least not looking at someone else.

    The men may be in some form of undress, but if so, it seems to be because they’re (realistically) undressing in the midst of sex, rather than just hanging out in their underwear.

    The men’s bodies may be idealized, but not unrealistically so, whereas the women’s bodies are (breasts and heads and eyes too large, waists too small, etc.)

    In general, there are implications of power in these distinctions. That is, where the men are relating to each other on an equal level and interacting with each other, they seem to have agency. When a young woman is seen alone, with coy expressions and in various forms of undress, she seems to have less agency; the power is in the hands of the one who gazes upon her.

    These are my reactions with, admittedly, very little context. Tell me if there is something I’m missing.

    Are women asking to marry Yaoi men?

  50. urederra says:

    somebody said “Urederra, it’s not THE Japanese subculture, it’s about A Japanese subculture: Otaku 2D pervo-wackos.

    No sir, I see the Japanese Subculture tag in each one of every Choo’s post, It is not about only about Otakus.

  51. Sean Blueart says:

    @59 BENHER

    I’m getting that you may be feeling annoyed about something. I’m having a difficult time understanding what specifically that is. I’m wondering if you’d be willing to clarify.

    Also, I’m having trouble understanding a a few points;

    1. I don’t get the “uninvited” piece; sure it’s invited, it’s on a blog that’s set up as a public forum via an opportunity to comment. I’m getting that the invitation is wide open.

    2. I don’t get the “unwanted” piece; are you saying that you don’t want to hear this cultural critique?, because I sure do. Even if I disagree, I welcome any comment it into the dialogue.

    3. What exactly is this ‘protecting children and puppies and kittens’ defense? Do you mean to say that anyone who seeks to consider corruption of innocence a part of the discourse is lamely basing their stance out of fear and for no other reason?

    Not trying to put words in your mouth, just curious to hear your point.

  52. Darren Garrison says:

    sswaan,

    I don’t know, but it just seems to me that the traits you are picking out to try and distinguish the yaoi images you saw from the female depictions are arbitrarily picked to try to differentiate between the two sub-genre. And you note that the yaoi guys are generally depicted as couples– but they are going to be couples by definition– “yaoi” is male on male action. You want guys alone? Try bishonen:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bish%C5%8Dnen

    http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&safe=off&q=bishonen+&btnG=Search+Images

    You want girls not alone? Try yuri:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri_(term)

    http://images.google.com/images?num=100&hl=en&safe=off&q=yuri&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

    But if you really want to pick and choose, you could divide the images in manga/anime/doujinshi into as many subgenre as there are artists– because the images reflect their individual tastes (or what they think to be the tastes of the target audience) and are as individual as in any other area of human interest. Measure any physical trait in a large sample of randomly-chosen manga/anime/doujinshi characters and you’ll get a bell curve with some outliers at extremes, just as you will with any other measurable “thing” with variability in traits. And if that sounds like evolution, well– those genres of characters are also the result of evolution– the selective process being what audiences are found to like– genre branch into sub-genre, sub-genre branch into sub-sub-genre, some die out, some exaggerate traits more and more with each new generation, and so on.

  53. lecti says:

    “Every cliche ever taught about “group” in Japan remains true and every Japanese is a rugged individualist inside. Understand this and you can live there.”

    That’s pretty much the best way to put it. If Japanese culture is baffling to you, that’s a good place to start. Xenophobia won’t help.

  54. Nelson.C says:

    Teapunk @24: But I think these guys should be allowed to marry their anime girls, it gets them off the street and they don’t harm anyone.

    The only harm an otaku is likely to cause is embarrassment, probably more to himself than to anyone else. Being introverted isn’t equivalent to being a psycho rapist, you know.

  55. Anonymous says:

    also a creator- curious about how this would play out in copyright courts. if i own a character, would i have to sell rights to marry? license the character (heh)- would i get royalties? how would the fees work? would it be a nonexclusive license/could i sell my girls to other husbands?

    more importantly, how do you marry an idea?

  56. sswaan says:

    Darren,

    I think those links substantiate the observations I made in my earlier posts. The women’s gazes tend to be towards the viewer and less at each other. Just because there is more than one person does not mean there is any connection or affection being shown, as there is in the yaio and bishonen. And the bodily distortions are still much more pronounced in the women. It’s surprising that you do not see the qualitative differences in these works.

    Again, I’m only going by what you are providing, and I looked through several screens. This is just what I see as an outside observer. And my responses are unchanged. (This is not to condemn people who view these images, just to draw attention to aspects of them that no one here seems to be talking about.)

    And, btw, you might warn readers that those links are NSFW.

  57. Teapunk says:

    @Rationalist: thank you, everything I wanted to say, especially:

    “I think refusing to say it is wrong to promote a culture of sexualizing children and infantilizing women, just because it is foreign and exotic is hypocritical and counterproductive.”

    Of course I know otaku are introvert, that’s what I meant with “they won’t harm anyone when they marry their anime girls”.

    How exactly does yaoi make the existence of child pornography okay? I really don’t get that point, because it’s two totally different things – yayoi is usually about gay boys enjoying sex with each other. Girls are usually depicted as sex objects happy to be molested.

  58. Darren Garrison says:

    urederra– referring to an earlier post of yours:

    “sure you guys don’t like to read about the American Subculture…”

    Have at it.:

    http://www.americansubculture.com/

  59. jeffv says:

    I’ve enjoyed your posts enormously. Thanks.

    BB editors: Apart from the lovely writing, I’ve also enjoyed Danny’s posts because they tell me a bit about a place I know so little about. I think this could be scaled… My suggestion a guestblogger from each country. Don’t start at A though: Zimbabwe would be a different country by the time we got there.

    Danny, I hope you aren’t paying for the Federated Media ads at the top of some pages linking to your blog.

  60. Marcel says:

    I support any initiative undermining the credibility of marriage as an institution.

  61. Xopher says:

    I oppose it. The consent issue alone is enough to rule out supporting such a thing.

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