starlady: Kazuhiko & Suu landing (fly)
[personal profile] starlady

Ohtsuka Eiji, an editor, critic, and writer, poses the question bluntly: why do so many Americans see Miyazaki's films as distinctively Japanese, as receptacles of Japanese values, when they are so clearly globally targeted entertainments? The answer is Orientalist habits of thought whereby the identity of the subject is formed by projecting unitary difference onto the Other, which Ueno Toshiya has referred to as techno-orientalism in the context of anime reception.

I'm particularly appreciating Lamarre's insistence that manga and anime studies stop investigating works for what they say about Japan, which quickly becomes tautological, but instead look at how they say it, look at what they say about living in the world, period. It's definitely something I know that I need to bear in mind.

Also, I like that that one sentence gets at what's wrong, period, with Orientalism in general and "Victorientalism" in particular--flattening differences that a) exist and b) ought not be flattened so as to, essentially, puff up the ego of the orientalist by furnishing them an entirely false sense of the world's simplicity and their superiority. At the same time it renders people and cultures into things, objects to be consumed, which is equally wrong, wrong, wrong.


Hi, new people! Welcome! おいでやす!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-19 00:24 (UTC)
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
From: [personal profile] snarp
Ohtsuka Eiji, an editor, critic, and writer, poses the question bluntly: why do so many Americans see Miyazaki's films as distinctively Japanese, as receptacles of Japanese values, when they are so clearly globally targeted entertainments?

When I was working in my college's library, the purchasing department decided they were going to buy anime. What did they buy? Every Ghibli film out in English, and nothing else. Seriously. They didn't even get Akira or Ghost in the Shell, which are the usual candidates for Only Anime In The Library. I asked why they'd made this decision, but never really got an answer. I mean, there are probably a whole bunch of reasons: because Ghibli films are critically well-received, because most of them are fairly cute and unlikely to offend anyone, because most of them are very good.

But I'm sure part of it was that ambiguously-useless purchasing-department word "representative" - when you're dipping your toe into buying a kind of media you don't have much of, you're supposed go for the stuff that's most "representative" first. And because Miyazaki's stories tend to have a lot of environmentalist imagery, they fit into this froofy Orientalist belief that East Asian culture is totally all about living in harmony with nature and all that good stuff. So people think Ghibli's corpus is very Japanese, and so, I assume, kind of extend this to the idea that it's probably representative of the genre as a whole.

Also, it was a college library, and you can totally use like, half of all Ghibli films to phone in papers about shinto. "Totoro is a shinto deity. So is No-Face. So is the Spirit of the Forest! So are the Ohmu. Oh hey MAYBE NAUSICAA IS AMATERASU how about that one you like it." (I may have written this paper once or twice.)

Highly relevant anecdote: A couple months ago a friend of mine who'd just seen Avatar was describing it to me as being "thematically similar to anime." I asked him what anime he'd seen - he didn't remember any titles, but from his descriptions I determined that they'd been Princess Mononoke, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Spirited Away, and Kiki's Delivery Service. You may notice a pattern here.

(I later showed him Mushishi, which probably didn't help the situation.)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-20 01:56 (UTC)
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
From: [personal profile] snarp
One of the things Lamarre harps on in his book is that Miyazaki treats technology not as a discrete tool, to be set down or picked up, but as an ontological condition

I think this statement is pretty much the entirety of the Nausicaa manga, where it's repeatedly said, in a number of different ways, that a rejection of technology is a rejection of reality.

I would suspect that Avatar does not feel that way about the situation.

DO NOT MOCK MY TOTALLY AWESOME CRAPPY PAPER

(Re: digression: Someone from the purchasing department later asked me for advice on what to buy when we got in a conversation about... I think all the manga I was requesting for senior research? And I got excited and sent her a detailed list with rationales, which she ignored.)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-20 02:07 (UTC)
snarp: small cute androgynous android crossing arms and looking very serious (Default)
From: [personal profile] snarp
Somehow I've made it this long without seeing Laputa - I really need to remedy that situation.

I'm trying to quit the Bleach thing. I'm working on a happy post about Divine Melody to get my adrenaline back down to acceptable levels.
Edited Date: 2010-03-20 02:07 (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-19 07:46 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hiya starlady
Ive been looking all over for raws of xxxholic chapter 203, but all I found were these photos:
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=Z9YA6I6R
Do you think you could still translate them?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-19 09:30 (UTC)
rodo: chuck on a roof in winter (Default)
From: [personal profile] rodo
This is pretty much why I don't like to have much to do with certain parts of the animanga fandom. I often get the feeling that people like the source because of its Japaneseness and not because it's a good story. It comes up in discussions about the translation of Japanese terms, for example. I have never heard anybody argue that "natsukashii" should not be translated (despite the fact that it's really hard to translate, imo), but "o-nii-san" or suffixes (or any other word they know)? Totally untranslatable, how dare you! I always feel as if these people just want to keep the translated source exotic. It's the same reason the German title of Oe's "Changeling" is not "Wechselbalg" but "Tagame".

I think I still have half-finished meta about that lying around somewhere.

Plus Chihiro is totally like Krabat.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-19 20:12 (UTC)
rodo: chuck on a roof in winter (Default)
From: [personal profile] rodo
"Crispin-sama!"

*cringes*

(when really I think a much better reading is that Miyazaki is continuously reacting against the unstopping urbanization of the developed world, urbanization being a notable feature of modernity)

That's how I always saw it too. But to some degree the Japanese = in tune with nature thing seems to be rather universal. I'm always reminded of the Japanese pavillion at the 2000 World Fair, which was all about environmentalism, according to the material. It was built almost entirely out of recycled paper. But image =/= truth.

I don't actually mind the suffixes all that much, after years of being exposed to them, you sort of get used to it, but there's nothing wrong with translating them either, no matter what some fans might say. Plus I always find it ridiculous when English native speaker do this with my native language (and "Fräulein" is insulting now anyway).

Yeah, ちゃんと is difficult too, but since I haven't translated many dialogues yet, they don't annoy me as much as "natsukashii", which was one of the most common words in the tanka I had to translate.

anime and manga are globally popular because they're culturally "odorless"

I find that statement problematic for a variety of reasons. Not all anime and manga are globally popular, for one. And many Hollywood movies manage to be globally popular while still being anything but culturally neutral.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-20 08:48 (UTC)
rodo: chuck on a roof in winter (Default)
From: [personal profile] rodo
From what you tell me, it seems as if things are simplified a bit. And now I'm wondering if anyone ever considered that maybe Japanese cultural products are popular to some degree because of their Japanese odor, not because they lack it altogether. Sure, they have to be partly universal to become popular, but I wouldn't say that dealing with universal topics entirely negates cultural odor.

From an Asian perspective, Japan probably has a lot of cultural prestige (just like Europe has for African immigrants and the USA for pretty much everyone, for example) and that should not be underestimated either when one writes about cultural exports to other Asian countries. (Well, and then there's all the WWII baggage, but there were still quite a lot of Chinese students who took Japanese lessons with me. In Germany, of all places.)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-20 16:25 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] merin-chan.livejournal.com
Yes, this is exactly right! I've been re-reading some of the earlier books published in English about anime lately (Antonia Levi's "Samurai From Outer Space" and even Patrick Drazen's more recent work), and I've been finding that they tend to go about saying "Anime was never intended for export, and watching it is like a peek into the unique cultural unconscious of Japan." Which is not totally true (Tezuka explicitly designed his shows for export) and also tends to create monolithic dichotomoies: "In Japan, they think this, so anime is like this. In America, we think this, so we are shocked and/or enlightened by anime." It's a problematic depiction not only of Japan, but also of the assumed American "we." Lamarre's insistence on avoiding this kind of "culturalism" -whether it's directed at the Orient or not- is definitely worth promoting!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-20 21:16 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starlady38.livejournal.com
Patrick Drazen really should know better. Except...well, he does go to TouDai, which I think explains why that attitude lingers in his works.

they tend to go about saying "Anime was never intended for export, and watching it is like a peek into the unique cultural unconscious of Japan." Which is not totally true

And which also reinscribes a sort of voyeuristic relation of the non-Japanese viewer to Japan, I think? which, quite frankly, smacks to me of Orientalism past and present.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-20 22:38 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] merin-chan.livejournal.com
Yep, Levi says outright that anime offers "a peeping Tom glimpse into the Japanese psyche" (16)! Drazen is a bit better, but even he says that "most of the anime you are about to meet were not intended to be seen by non-Japanese eyes" (Anime Explosion viii), implying voyeurism. It's amazing that these tropes are still circulating!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-20 22:43 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] starlady38.livejournal.com
Yet another reason I won't be reading Drazen's book. Fair warning, I'm going to indulge in some aca-snobbery right here: I'm not surprised to see that in a book by a guy who leads tourists through Akihabara for cash on the weekends.

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