Communal Identity through Cultural Essentialism: The Evolution of the American Anime and Manga Fan Community and the Orientalism of its Conception of Japan

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Fliss, Charles Joseph MacRobie
thesis / dissertation description
Japanese popular culture, especially "anime" (cartoons) and "manga" (comics) have surged in popularity in the United States in recent years. Accordingly, the fan community for these cultural products has grown tremendously. However, disturbing trends are emerging from the community's interpretations of anime and manga, and through them, Japan. This paper examines the nature of fandom in relation to narrative and identity creation, and through tracing the history of the anime and manga fan community in the United States argues that the fan community's conception of Japan is culturally essentialist and Orientalist.