This Week In Weird Anime Related News In The Mainstream Media

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)


12 Responses to “This Week In Weird Anime Related News In The Mainstream Media”

  1. 1 EvilDevil August 1, 2008 at 5:09 am

    “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 God, if that were ever to happen I would get a gun and start shooting…

    “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”
    interesting but not impressed… societies like that do appear and maybe take it a little bit serious, Sherlock Holmes society, stark trek and star wars fans, the Tolkien societies, etc… still it doesnt mean is a waste of time, somehow fandom has inspired artist, inventors, police offiers,scientists etc… alike to make the world they love closer to their own…

    “whereas the Wall Street Journal seemed to portray anime as a fruity sub-culture and it’s fans just barely above public nuisance status.”
    i stoped listening to those idiot long ago… wait i never did listen!

  2. 2 Haesslich August 1, 2008 at 6:07 am

    WSJ forgot the important part of the story: because of Lucky Star, tourism increased and gave the city MONEY. Therefore, TV shows featuring towns, no matter how silly they may be, can bring MONEY into a local economy.

    Because, y’know, cities need MONEY to function. And the Wall Street Journal is supposed to be about MONEY. Except.. well, Japan’s been shipping anime all over the world in order to bring more MONEY into the country, since it’s now as much of an icon as ‘economical fuel-efficient cars’ and ‘electronics’.

  3. 3 Kaioshin Sama August 1, 2008 at 7:03 am

    @EvilDevil: No this isn’t like a fangroup or anything, this is an academic study group made up of PH.D’s and grad students. That kind of thing. Whereas a fan group would dissect things from a fan standpoint and go over all their favourite moments or whatever, this group is attached to a university and intends to examine the series from an academic perspective. Oddly enough that’s sort of what I try to do in my blogging style, only in a more fun, overaching and less wordy way.

    @Haesslich: Yeah, for the Wall Street Journal they didn’t really seem to be going at it from a MONEY perspective. I’m almost tempted to think of it as some sort of Conservative smear job against the idea of rebellious and rowdy sub-cultures or something while still trying to make it look economically relevant. On the other hand they could be trying to soften their readers view of the whole anime scene because it is indeed a very profitable industry and they could be trying to show that their are many fans willing to spend exorbitant amounts of money on the right products.

    I think more than anything these two articles when placed side-by-side show a multitude of applications for what is essentially the same medium. Either way anime get’s more and more noticed each year and is gradually being treated more and more seriously by mainstream society, not even just in it’s marketability, but for it’s content and creative applications.

  4. 4 Haesslich August 1, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Well, given that Lucky Star brought something like $390K just in selling charms alone, not counting the other income brought to businesses in the area (people need to eat, tend to buy other souvenirs, spend money in shops and service industries)… well, that’s kinda the important part, right? Especially when you have quotes like the following, which was probably the only really useful part of the article:

    Soon, some residents noticed that even the most outlandish fans were generally well-behaved, and drew a firm line between the real and fantasy worlds. Fans stand in orderly lines at the shrine’s gate to pose for pictures. There’s a code of conduct among Lucky Star fans: Mr. Osakabe, the author of the illustrated guide, warns readers not to sing and dance in public so as to not disturb local residents.

    They’re generally well behaved, polite, orderly, and spend money white sightseeing. Local tourism boosted quite a bit due to the show… and given how cities in the States are complaining that they’re losing tourism dollars they used to have… gee, maybe there’s an idea that could bring in some revenue?

  5. 5 EvilDevil August 2, 2008 at 12:20 am

    true, but tolkien societies also have philologiests (those who study languages), and I heard there is some department/university that studies starwars battle tactics or something… in either case still interesting…

  6. 6 EvilDevil August 2, 2008 at 12:26 am

    what does the WSJ knows anyway. I just hope this doesnt go out of hand… and seriously, helping a town pump more money in their local economy means is time that otakus get a more respected recognition… if only they would stop dressing like that…

  7. 7 Kaioshin Sama August 2, 2008 at 3:18 am

    @Haesslich: Here’s a way U.S cities can get those tourists back. Elect some representatives to the House that will get rid of the stupid bills making air travel to and from the country a living nightmare. The problem isn’t in a lack of willingness to tour the country, it’s that the U.S Government has made it such a pain in the ass and semi-closed the borders to the point where they are killing their own tourism industry. Lobbying and not Lucky Star is what they need.

    @EvilDevil: It’s more the fact that it’s Gundam and in close proximity to the other mainstream media report on an anime suject as opposed to uniqueness that I included as anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I like Gundam….somewhat a lot.

  8. 8 Haesslich August 2, 2008 at 7:47 am

    Kaoishin: Except that otaku per the WSJ article represent in-country tourists, not a flood of gaijin visiting Washinomiya Shrine. In-country tourism’s down a bloody lot too, IIRC, due to rising gas prices and the threat of a recession due to a nearly-dead housing market that fed off an artificial building boom fueled by loans and mortages that shouldn’t have been issued in the first place. Changing the border policy wouldn’t help with that. Making people WANT to go to X place would help more… which means incentives, or lower gas prices, or whatever.

  9. 9 Kaioshin Sama August 2, 2008 at 9:17 am

    @Haesslich: Oh…I’m sorry, I misread what it was you were saying and thought you were talking about U.S tourism instead of drawing a comparison between two equally weakening markets.

    Well I tbink we could all use cheaper gas prices and more affordable housing. Until the governments start getting enough backbone to stand up and pass laws that will regulate the out control oil industry and it’s prices then that’s just not going to happen though.

  10. 10 Haesslich August 2, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    The shrine visits are the equivalent of Americans going to Yosemite National Park or to New York for a holiday – in country tourism. Featuring locations in a city or town can help tourism, as fans of The Sopranos can attest. Things like the way Washinomiya cashed in on Lucky Star (a short term rush of interest milked for maximum benefit) are viable as short term solutions and may make enough of an impression to draw repeat visits for the other sights. Lower gas prices (ah sweet irony, starting thy rise after the Liberation of Iraq ™) wouldn’t hurt, but novelty isn’t necessarily a bar way to get a city a proverbial foot in the door.

  11. 11 Kaioshin Sama August 2, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    @Haesslich: What happens though if after the otaku run out of money and cease to be a source of income to the city if they don’t leave though? I’m curious about what the towns councillors are considering in the long term. Apparently there are citizens there that already think things have gotten a little out of hand too and that they will eventually need to draw the line.

  12. 12 Haesslich August 2, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    Otaku seem to have been an economic force for over thirty years – that’s how Bandai’s been surviving all this time. As far as I can tell, this is a fad that will eventually pass.. and these otaku aren’t moving there – just visiting, buying things, eating, and trying to spot the sites that inspired similar scenes in the anime. It’s like worrying about tourists becoming illegal immigrants, at this point. The townspeople are more worried about how they’re being portrayed to the rest of Japan and the world more than the ‘otaku are coming to buy shit’ issue.

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