Imagine Your Sitting In Your House, TV On And Tuned To Fox News, Watching The Latest Polls On John McCain And That Dastardly Barack Obama When You Open Your Good Old Wholesome Red Tie And Black Shirt Conservative Wall Street Journal To Find This Picture Staring Back At You. Will You Become A Democrat?
You might be familiar with this one, have you heard about this, have you seen this? Well among other news, Lucky Star as many know managed to make into the Wall Street Journal in what seems like the final logical destination for it in becoming a fully realized commodity as opposed to a working anime/manga franchise. Okay, that’s not entirely true actually, although the WSJ would have you think so. It’s more about how a small town that happens to be the real life location of the Lucky Star universes Washinomiya Shrine where Tsukasa and Kagami reside managed to take advantage of a potentially annoying situation for the purposes of monetary profit. You see one day the town awoke to find it’s streets filled with the terrifying sight of Otaku dressed in sailor fuku (so help me I’m not linking that song) and colour coordinated wigs….that’s right Lucky Star cosplayers there to see the sites featured in the series. What to do? Grab a gun and take the zombies down Leon Kennedy style and inspire Shinji Mikami to make Resident Evil Gun Survivor 5: Otaku Renagade? No, they decided to take advantage of the other thing overzealous Otaku or good at besides taking up space and scaring locals (this according to the WSJ)….their total disregard for their own financial status and value. They turned the place into a tourist trap and have made quite a killing (unfortunately not literally…..okay I kid I kid) off of the whole phenomenon. If you can’t shoo them away because of pesky mobility rights, and you can’t legally turn it into a Resident Evil scenario without getting arrested, then why not at least try to coexist with the Konata’s, Miyuki’s, Kagami’s and Tsukasa’s stalking your streets during the day…..AND AT NIGHT! And of course the Wall Street Journal loves these types of stories where people make money through alternative means. It’s all about tapping the market with Wall Street Journal, which is why I don’t really consider them a legitimate newspaper. That and the whole Right-Wing bias thing.
Anyway, so that’s the first story. The second story comes from a real newspaper (as opposed to Rupert Murdoch’s daily business ticker/Republican propaganda machine) in Tokyo’s Mainichi Daily News and it concerns a certain International Gundam Society. What is this society? A secret group of Otaku dedicated to spreading the word of the Gundam Gospel from it’s first battle, through the glorious battle of Odessa right up until the historic battle of A Baoa Qu?!!! No actually, it’s a legitimate academic society set up to study the franchise for what I can only assume is the purpose of coming up with thesis’ and possible practical real world application of some of it’s prominent technologies such as possible space colonization methods and robotics etc. “The Gundam series presented the model of a futuristic society through insightful perspectives, which could become numerous academic research themes, such as futurology,” stated Professor Shinya Hashizume of Osaka Prefecture University. According to another article in Japan today the societ seems particularly interested Gundams solutions for overpopulation and it’s portrayal of struggles and growth among use in a space colonization era. Crazy…. Well if this study ever results in a real course in Gundamology then sign me the hell up, I’ll be there to take it…..I er….think.
So yeah I wasn’t expecting news stories like this to just pop up in the mainstream news circulation, and in such close promixity either. I’m not sure which story I find more interesting as an anime fan, but a friend of mine claims that both are. I think I can agree on that. One last thing is that I found somewhat interesting if perhaps a little unsurprising that the Japanese news service portrayed it’s anime in such a positive light and seemed to celebrate Gundam, whereas the Wall Street Journal seemed to portray anime as a fruity sub-culture and it’s fans just barely above public nuisance status. Not like I take the WSJ seriously anyways, but it just shows a completely different level of tolerance and understanding for the whole anime scene among the two cultures of America and Japan.
Sources: Popular Cartoon Series Makes Japanese Shrine a Magnet for Fans (Wall Street Journal), Academic society on popular animation ‘Gundam’ to be launched (Japan Today), International academic society dedicated to ‘Gundam’ animation set to debut (Mainichi Daily News)