Archive for December, 2008

CJAS Alums Mentioned in Anime World Order Podcast

Saturday, December 27th, 2008 CJAS

CJAS alums Lawrence Eng and Mari Morimoto (both official guests at SITACon last October) were mentioned in last week’s Anime World Order podcast.  The shout-out is at 6:22/-55:41.  For those who do not know Lawrence or Mari, they are quite active in the anime community.

Lawrence Eng (‘98) is a social scientist specializing in otaku studies.  He received his Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2006.  His doctoral research examined the ways in which anime otaku and related subcultures engage and appropriate science and technology.  Currently, he is the Product Research Manager for Opera Software.  On the web, he is known for his “thought experiments lain” site and his “lainspotting” blog.  He is also founder of the Anime and Manga Research Circle.

Mari Morimoto (‘96, DVM ‘01) is a veterinarian who has been freelancing as manga translator for the past 14 years.  As this ANN page will attest, she has quite a few big-name titles under her belt, including Dragon Ball, Inuyasha, Maison Ikkoku, Naruto, and Neon Genesis Evangelion.

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Seeing Ourselves in Their Eyes; Japanese Visions of the West

Saturday, December 13th, 2008 Japan

One of the many interesting things I notice about anime is how they see us. Just as Americans have stereotypes of Japanese (and just about everyone else), the Japanese have stereotypes about us. This doesn’t show up a whole lot, but every once in a while the viewer can see a flash of the West. Now I don’t mean Western influence in terms of Disney or anthing; I mean the tall, blond character who speaks bad Japanese and seems to carry a lot of guns for no apparent reason (sound familiar?). There are a lot of flashes of American culture that appear in Japanese anime, good or bad, but the two that always stick out in my mind are the sterotype of the loud, violent American, and Christianity being used as exoticism.

Mr. K, in all his American glory

The Japanese sterotype of an American is pretty involved. The American is often tall and blond – makes sense, more or less. The constant carrying of guns is a little bit odder. Japan has a complete ban on guns, unlike America, and they seem to think that just because it is possible for someone to own a gun, they do so, and they use the gun at any possible oppourtunity. Mr. K, the absolutely ridiculous American from Gravitation, once forces the main character out of his apartment (or something like that; the setup is rather irrelevant) by going to the opposite building, going out onto the balcony, and sniper-rifling at the main character. This is also while the family who own the balcony look on in absolute horror. Granted, this is a comedy show, but even then, none of the Japanese characters would ever do this. The last part of the Japanese sterotype, and this is rather subtle and rarely shows up, is that Americans cannot work with anyone; they are incapable of caring about someone else. Keep in mind that this is a very rare aspect of the sterotype. From what I’ve read, this part of the sterotype comes from a fundamental difference between Japanese and American culture. Japan is incredibly group oriented, with limited tolerance for people who are unique or different. America, on the other hand, is incredibly geared toward individuality and personal freedom, occasionally at the expense of the group or community. This translates, in the Japanese mindset, to Americans being completely individualistic, and thus utterly selfish.

Lilith, and the spear of Longinus, courtesy of Neon Genesis

The second Western item that seems to appear a lot is Christianity. By that I mean not someone being Christian, but when ‘mythology’ of Christianity is used in a story. Ironically enough, it is often used in the same way that a Western writer would use Buddhism or Hinduism – simply to make the story exotic, without paying all that much attention to what the religion is actually like. The best example of this would be Neon Genesis Evangalion. Putting aside whether or not this is a good show (I’m not even getting into that) the use of Judeo-Christian elements is interesting. The Angels, Adam, Eve, the Spear of Longinus, even hymn music during fight scenes, Eva uses all of these things and more. And oddly enough, it works. It makes the story seem to be even more of an epic than it is. However, this show uses Judeo-Christian ideas outside of any sort of context; if you try and understand them and try to apply these ideas into the belief system, you will fail. This appropriation of Christian ideas without context happens a fair amount; Cross is built around it, with slightly more coherency than Eva. Yami no Matsuei uses this trope in places as well, and lets not even get started on Angel Sanctuary. It’s too easy.

Now, I take no offense (usually) at either the sterotype of Americans (being an American) or the use of Christianity for flavor (as a Roman Catholic). I simply find it fascinating to learn how other people think of us.

Note: this article was written with no research or authority. In addition, just as the views and ideas expressed may not be characteristic of Cornell University, they may not be characteristic of some members of CJAS. Ja ne!

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CJAS Marathon December 6

Monday, December 1st, 2008 Announcements, Events

With the end of the semester just around the corner, what better way to unwind before finals start than to enjoy CJAS’s end-of-semester marathon! Come Lewis Auditorium and enjoy the plethora of anime we have lined up to show.

12:00 - Detective Conan 1-2
12:50 - Fire Tripper
1:40  - Break
1:50  - Victorian Romance Emma 1
2:15  - The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
3:55  - Break
4:05  - Ouran High School Host Club 1
4:30  - Code Geass 1-2
5:20  - Dinner
6:20  - Claymore 1
6:45  - Hellsing Ultimate 4
7:35  - Break
7:50  - Welcome to the NHK 13
8:15  - Kino's Journey 13
8:40  - XXXHolic 13
9:05  - Twelve Kingdoms 13
9:30  - Break
9:50  - Mushishi 12-13
10:40 - Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann 15
11:05 - Giant Robo 7
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