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branchandroot: Ginji and Akabane with a heart (Ginji Akabane Heart)
[personal profile] branchandroot
Actually, this is a lot broader than that, but that was one of the places this post started. The other was Rana's comment on a different post, words to the effect that the fan-cultures in question seem to divide themselves based only on some very fuzzy Orientalism.

I agree that fuzzy Orientalism is the most regrettably common way Western fans of similar media from different national/ethnic groups (eg comics and manga) express their differentiation. That particular expression is generally a lot of hot air, yes.

But I also think there are real fan-culture differences, touching on though not always rising directly from the mother-culture differences of the sources. This is my attempt to articulate the ones that I've seen. Warning: generalizations ahead, though not baseless ones.

ETA: To elaborate, this post is based on my own and my circle's experiences in various fandoms; unfortunately I managed to phrase things rather more generally and universally than I quite realized at the time. *rueful* None of the following is actually meant to be a Declaration Of How Fandom Is Everywhere. That said, the experience in question is not a narrow one, and I think the following is representative of a significant section of manga (and anime) fandom participants.


One major fan-culture difference is Japanophilia. Not the study of another culture, though it can in a few happy cases evolve into that, but the fad for and valorization of the surface and trappings of another culture. It makes me twitch, but there it is. However much some of us headdesk, this exoticization isn't going away anytime soon and it is a significant fan-culture difference.

Another is what we might call the discussion tropes of the fandoms. These tend to evolve from a handful of defining features in the sources where they cross with the developing tenor of the fandom culture. A recurring discussion in comic fandoms, for example, revolves around the hypersexualization of women, and how objectionable it is to reduce all the women to a set of tits and an ass. Manga fandoms do not have this discussion (ETA: I should have phrased this as something more like "this discussion or similar ones regarding the rendering of women as two-dimensional objects who exist for the benefit of men and not as fully realized characters"), not as a Known Issue, not in the open, despite an at least equal tendency to appalling objectification in the source material. Instead, the discussion usually gets pushed into private mode before it really gets going. See above, re: Japanophilia and valorization, also re: headdesking. On the other hand, the original language itself is a discussion point largely peculiar to Western manga fandoms, as will generally be the case with a translated source. It expresses as everything from language lessons to fights over transliteration systems to the eternal localization vs. "direct" translation battle, and knowledge of those debates acts as one of the shibboleths of manga fandoms.

Then there's actual style and content in the source. There has always been a certain give and take, between this particular two-set, of artistic style, and as US comics (the only ones I can speak to from experience) diversify it's becoming more evident, but there are also story tropes that are still distinct. How else, when they arise from two separate mother-cultures? To name only one, multiple genres of manga have, for decades, toyed with explicit homoeroticism in a way that comics in general do not. The genre diversity itself is another example, and the variety of story-types told in manga format. The symbolic language is, and can only remain, distinct as well. Curiously enough, such story tropes do not result in many fan-culture differences that I have seen, except insofar as manga fandom can, for example, show a more intense defensiveness, sometimes devolving into outright gay-bashing, over reading and enjoying explicit gay (only not real gay, which is a whole nother essay) romance, porn and slapstick. (ETA: I did not phrase myself with enough specificity here; I am aware of the voluble gay-bashing in comics fandoms. What I refer to is the particular "screw for my enjoyment while I deny you the right to live" double-mindedness that shows up among fen who are trying to have their cake and bash it too. The key word, here, is defensiveness.) The different story tropes I would put down as a distinction between the sources, but not one that manifests much in fandom culture outside of the actual preference for the style and content of one group of sources or another.


Now, what I would be interested to know is: do the same kinds of differences show up in the Western fandoms of Western and Asian TV? Or of Western bands and Asian bands? And do they manifest in gaming fandoms? That last especially interests me, since the game sources seem to be the most self-aware of the trans-Pacific trade.

ETA: As per suggestion, I would like to point out that I have not been present for the bulk of wrangler discussions on associated issues. These are thoughts going off in a different (somewhat) direction, so please to be not be bringing other fights in here. I am an unaligned polity.

ETA some more: Will not be replying to further comments on this one because work has descended for the term. Talk among yourselves if you like.
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