Main Article Content
The term, otaku, which addresses varied fandom-related activities, is a buzzword in discussions of Japanese popular culture. This article addresses the most controversial aspect of otaku practice: the stereotypical male otaku’s admiration for, and investment in, cartoon images of young girl characters. While this practice has been discussed in terms of the notions of perversion and of queerness, I see this otaku practice not in terms of a sexual politics, but as operating through a highly culturally-specific tradition that understands signs in embodied terms. I consider how Japanese traditions of somatic and material conditioning relate to and assist to explain this practice. I propose the concept of ‘performance’ as a profound process for making social meaning, and the key term with which to understand the Japanese engagement with artefacts, in contrast to an idea of performance as essentially false, and to do with mere appearance. The article illustrates how an exchange between the male otaku’s coded gesturing and his embodied relations with the young girl cartoon image is derived from traditional concepts. The ‘radicality’ of the otaku’s ‘perversity’ lies in its aberrant construction of intersubjective communication through a cultural habitus that is extended to the Internet, merging the subject and the object of desire.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
a) Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed undera Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share and adapt the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
b) Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
c) Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Open Access Citation Advantage Service). Where authors include such a work in an institutional repository or on their website (ie. a copy of a work which has been published in a UTS ePRESS journal, or a pre-print or post-print version of that work), we request that they include a statement that acknowledges the UTS ePRESS publication including the name of the journal, the volume number and a web-link to the journal item.
d) Authors should be aware that the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License permits readers to share (copy and redistribute the work in any medium or format) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the work) for any purpose, even commercially, provided they also give appropriate credit to the work, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. They may do these things in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests you or your publisher endorses their use.