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Erik_Twice
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Article: The Great Shift in Japanese culture

by Erik_Twice Wed Mar 30, 2016 4:33 pm

I think many of us have noticed that Japanese games seem incresingly Otaku-parending and there was a thread in NeoGAF about this subject. Someone posted a series of articles as an explanation and I thought they were pretty interesting. Here it is:

http://neojaponisme.com/2011/11/28/the- ... -part-one/

Let's get this out of the way: These are not particularly rigurous articles and it's hard not to see them as somewhat biased or even contemptous. But they are very reasonable and it's hard to imagine it's easy to cover the topic without either a lack of rigour or being oblivious.

What do you think? There are members that have lived in Japan so they can probably talk about this.
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Re: Article: The Great Shift in Japanese culture

by Ack Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:37 pm

It's an interesting article at least, even if the commentators are eager to point out its flaws.
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Re: Article: The Great Shift in Japanese culture

by Kaneda Thu Aug 04, 2016 12:30 pm

Good read Erik, forgive me for stating the obvious here but without talking too much about Japans economy or the cost of Asahi I would say the biggest change happening is younger generations becoming more western influenced; Coka Cola, iphone, Mc Donalds, with the EU and US gamers becoming more Otaku.
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Re: Article: The Great Shift in Japanese culture

by Forlorn Drifter Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:03 pm

Has this been posted here before? I'm not sure, but it seems like it has. If not, I've read it elsewhere. Interesting, although I've seen it critiqued pretty harshly on my facebook many times by people much more knowledgeable about Japan than me.
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Erik_Twice
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Re: Article: The Great Shift in Japanese culture

by Erik_Twice Sun Aug 07, 2016 3:39 pm

Forlorn Drifter wrote:Has this been posted here before? I'm not sure, but it seems like it has. If not, I've read it elsewhere. Interesting, although I've seen it critiqued pretty harshly on my facebook many times by people much more knowledgeable about Japan than me.

I don't think it has, Forlorn, but if you can share some of that criticism, I would welcome it! I think the original article is...very spurious and flawed but it tackles an unique topic so I would love to hear more on it.
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Re: Article: The Great Shift in Japanese culture

by Forlorn Drifter Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:06 pm

Erik_Twice wrote:
Forlorn Drifter wrote:Has this been posted here before? I'm not sure, but it seems like it has. If not, I've read it elsewhere. Interesting, although I've seen it critiqued pretty harshly on my facebook many times by people much more knowledgeable about Japan than me.

I don't think it has, Forlorn, but if you can share some of that criticism, I would welcome it! I think the original article is...very spurious and flawed but it tackles an unique topic so I would love to hear more on it.

I tried digging on facebook to see if I could find the posts, but I couldn't find them. I went back until my buddy was living in Japan, and seeing how everything was written in Japanese, I couldn't find anything.

As I remember it off the top of my head, the main sticking points were on bad understanding of consumer culture in Japan, the government's role in exports and media there, larger cultural changes (as I remember it, there was a lot of discussion/argument over the role the "vegetarian men/carnivore women" idealism played into it), work culture surrounding the companies who make niche media, and how many westerners had warped ideas about Japanese culture because how much of exported media are niche.

I'll try digging some more to see if I can find the posts, but I doubt I'll find anything. I have hell finding things on facebook.
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Re: Article: The Great Shift in Japanese culture

by Glitch42 Mon Nov 21, 2016 1:35 am

Forlorn Drifter wrote:
Erik_Twice wrote:
Forlorn Drifter wrote:...many westerners had warped ideas about Japanese culture because how much of exported media are niche.

Much exported "culture" is niche. The media that Japan is most famous for is Anime etc. however true (perhaps called) traditional Japanese culture I've found is often overlooked by westernised countries due to it's complexity. Unlike, say, American culture which is about individualism and had developed it's culture from English beginnings and has thus evolved from the influence of many immigrating cultures; Japan, has on the contrary, spent most of it's existence in relative isolation. During and after WW2 import was discouraged and almost stopped completely and so was travel to Japan. WW2 was a time of oppression of other beliefs such as the prosecution of Christians (making them go into hiding). During the industrial revolution in about the 1800's Japan started to take up western ideals such as clothes but they still stayed in relative isolation. It is only now that they are really starting to take up these such ideas due to a decline in the economy and a decreasing in the amount of children born.
Therefore, yes Otaku culture is more palatable to the masses of westernised cultures, and is probably a symptom of the old reteric of "those weird Japanese".

Sorry If I prattled on there, Japanese culture's a bit of a hobby. (I may have gotten a few things distorted since I'm writing from memory) :)
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Re: Article: The Great Shift in Japanese culture

by darsparx Mon Nov 21, 2016 9:35 am

Glitch that's actually very interesting, and makes perfect sense. That is a rabbit hole I'd love to dive down because for all the anime and video games I've played that come from them it just makes me even more curious to find out more. But darn it if it seems like I don't have the time to do so. Really makes me wish the educational system we have actually suited those who want to learn about them. I'd love to take some Japanese culture and language classes so bad right about now :|
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Re: Article: The Great Shift in Japanese culture

by HiSpec Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:43 am

I know I'm late to the party, but this article was interesting so I wanted to add my thoughts. I lived in Japan for many years and have Japanese family members, so I have some first-hand experience with what the author discusses.

First, his points are basically these:
1) Because incomes have decreased, normal people are buying less culturally-oriented items (books, music, clothes, games, etc.).
2) Sub-cultures, whose values are rooted in what they buy, continue to buy things.
3) Cultural markets have shifted so that they are dominated by sub-cultures, such as otaku.
4) Sub-culture is difficult to export because foreign audiences don't understand it.

It's an intuitive thesis. However, I have a bit of a different take on things.

Ultimately, I think everything comes down to keitai (cell phone) culture in Japan. Based on personal observation, I would say that most young Japanese people have shifted their free-time activities entirely to their cell phones, and this is increasing even more with the increase in popularity of smart phones. What do young Japanese people do on their cell phones? 1) Line/Twitter/other social media 2) Matome (web curation sites) 3) Youtube/Niconico. These have come to completely dominate cultural consumption, and more traditional things like TV, music, manga, and game consoles are pretty much ignored by younger audiences.

There are a few things that identify keitai culture rather than decreasing incomes as the culprit. First of all, TV is basically free to view in Japan (there is a public broadcasting fee but most people don't pay it), so unlike in America, an expensive cable subscription is not required to watch the most popular shows. Nevertheless, younger people are just not watching TV. Second, fashion is one area that doesn't seem to be suffering as badly as others. Yes, there has been an increase in popularity of budget clothing stores, but go to any big Japanese city and you will see the incredible prevalence of expensive fashion boutiques and you will most likely feel poorly dressed in comparison to 95% of the people walking outside. Japan's high-priced food culture also seems to be relatively healthy. The point is that the biggest loss in cultural consumption appears to be for goods which are easily replaced by a smart phone, such as music and TV, rather than clothes and food.

Of course, decreasing incomes play a part as well, but I just don't think it's as big as the author makes out.

I do think that the spread of otaku culture is due to more companies targeting otaku, but I think the author misses the mark with 'gyaru' and 'yankii'. These are much less clearly defined sub-cultures and really just permeate Japanese popular fashion in general and have done so for many years.

The other aspect not quite addressed that contributes to the spread of otaku culture relates back to keitai culture: many of the content creators on the internet are otaku, and with the rise in matome/niconico/twitter usage among young people, there is much more exposure to otaku culture.
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Re: Article: The Great Shift in Japanese culture

by marurun Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:46 pm

I think the disposable income thing has become a little less important as the Japanese market has adjusted to this, but it did have a big impact transitioning from the 90s to the 00s. But you're right that keitai culture has had a dramatic impact on Japan. It's part of why Konami has largely abandoned the console gaming space, and why these stalwarts of Japanese gaming culture are flailing about in the Japanese games market.
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