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Otaku: Japans Database Animals Paperback – March 25, 2009
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Hiroki Azuma’s Otaku offers a critical, philosophical, and historical inquiry into the characteristics and consequences of this consumer subculture. For Azuma, one of Japan’s leading public intellectuals, otaku culture mirrors the transformations of postwar Japanese society and the nature of human behavior in the postmodern era. He traces otaku’s ascendancy to the distorted conditions created in Japan by the country’s phenomenal postwar modernization, its inability to come to terms with its defeat in the Second World War, and America’s subsequent cultural invasion. More broadly, Azuma argues that the consumption behavior of otaku is representative of the postmodern consumption of culture in general, which sacrifices the search for greater significance to almost animalistic instant gratification. In this context, culture becomes simply a database of plots and characters and its consumers mere “database animals.”
A vital non-Western intervention in postmodern culture and theory, Otaku is also an appealing and perceptive account of Japanese popular culture.
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Top customer reviews
Although this book is mainly about anime and dating simulation video games, the theory behind it applies to media outside Japan such as episodic television, science fiction, the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. A core idea is that consumers of this kind of fiction aren't so much consuming stories but instead consuming the systems that underpin fictional worlds. In fact, the believes that many of the anime that outsiders see as quintessentially Japanese such as Urusei Yatsura are actually more expressive of American culture than Japanese.
This is an accessible and essential book for anyone interested in anime, video games, science fiction, fantasy and role playing as well as critical theory, postmodernism and the question of "What changed in our culture after 1968?"
I highly recommend this to any fan of Japanese culture who wants to read an interesting take on today's otaku, and also to anyone who wants a straightforward introduction to postmodernism before wading through the bog of the swamp garden known as Jean Baudrillard--pretty to look at but a chore to traverse, sacrificing clarity for the sake of aesthetics. Otaku: Japan's Database Animals is as clear as it gets, and aptly demonstrates that it can be done.
To put it simply ... I recommend the book, and would like to see more from ths author on the subject.
My friend said to me, "Oh, you mean like how the Tale of Genji was read in the Edo period?"
I wish I could remember which of my friends said this, but they cut right through Azuma's BS for me. Indeed, a well-researched book was just published on the Genji subject: The Tale of Genji: Translation, Canonization, and World Literature
"Otaku" is a pretty interesting book for understanding and interpreting writers like Derrida and Kojéve, but it is not the best book in that category, and Azuma's ideas of what make otaku unique are fairly dubious. It's an entertaining read, but take it with a heap of salt.
Most recent customer reviews
Only sad that its printed in black and white... so al photos are too.Read more