Wishlisted book: Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals

Amazon.com recommended this book to me, and they were right, it's exactly the book I'd like to be reading now. Completionist instincts are especially activated in Japanese consumer culture, the one place I can think of where releasing a $300+ electronic device in multiple colors prompts repeat purchases from a significant number — with limited edition rereleases prompting early-morning lineups. Serendipitously, this lines up with a lot of articles and posts I'm reading lately (therein lies the problem, "high rate, low downtime" information consumption) about hyperconnectedness and how it's ruining our ability to analyze. The last line of the book description below summarizes this idea, and explains the book's title, so I've set it in bold for your convenience.

Book description from Amazon:

In Japan, obsessive adult fans and collectors of manga and anime are known as otaku. When the underground otaku subculture first emerged in the 1970s, participants were looked down on within mainstream Japanese society as strange, antisocial loners. Today otaku have had a huge impact on popular culture not only in Japan but also throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Hiroki Azuma’s Otaku offers a critical, philosophical, and historical inquiry into the characteristics and consequences of this consumer subculture. For Azuma, one of Japan’s leading public intellectuals, otaku culture mirrors the transformations of postwar Japanese society and the nature of human behavior in the postmodern era. He traces otaku’s ascendancy to the distorted conditions created in Japan by the country’s phenomenal postwar modernization, its inability to come to terms with its defeat in the Second World War, and America’s subsequent cultural invasion. More broadly, Azuma argues that the consumption behavior of otaku is representative of the postmodern consumption of culture in general, which sacrifices the search for greater significance to almost animalistic instant gratification. In this context, culture becomes simply a database of plots and characters and its consumers mere “database animals.” 

A vital non-Western intervention in postmodern culture and theory, Otaku is also an appealing and perceptive account of Japanese popular culture.

Otaku: Japan's Database Animals (USD$16.17) [BookDepository.co.uk, free shipping worldwide]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

%d bloggers like this: