ICAS Event: "Globalizing Otaku"

Thursday, March 18th, 2010
7:00 p.m. (Talk will start at 7:30 p.m.)
TUJ Azabu Hall 212 (Access)
Matt Alt, Renato Rivera Rusca, Patrick W. Galbraith and Roland Kelts
Open to general public.
You can purchase a bento and drinks at the convenience store next to the university.
RSVP is now closed


Otaku, and their virtual communities and subculture networks, have become a source of artistic inspiration and a ready market for the cultural byproducts of anime and manga. As “Cool Japan” attempts to define itself against the anxieties of political and economic marginalization, these obsessive consumers of pop culture have also become a symbol of social alienation and social withdrawal from mainstream obligations. This symposium examines the cross cultural flows of popular culture into and out of Japan, and considers the social significance of the otaku population in the contemporary political context, where social control of youth is often associated with this unique population. In addition to discussing the export of otaku as a cultural commodity, and its role in raising the profile of Japanese culture abroad, this symposium will address the controversial topic of Japanese otaku culture in the age of globalization. “Globalizing Otaku" will bring a multidisciplinary panel of authorities on Japanese pop culture together to consider questions such as how the Japanese media responds to an increasingly insular domestic market and growing foreign demand, and how the rise of creators in South Korea and China impact this response.


Matt Alt runs a AltJapan Co., Ltd., a Tokyo-based company that specializes in producing the English versions of Japanese video games, comic books and literature. Along with Hiroko Yoda he is the co-author of Hello, Please! Very Helpful Super Kawaii Characters from Japan, an on-the-street expose of Japanese cute character culture, and Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide, a guidebook to creatures from Japanese folklore.

Renato Rivera Rusca is a researcher at Kyoto University Graduate School of Letters who has written on manga and ukiyo-e and the globalization of Japanese popular culture. Has also made several documentary films on themes such as foreign otaku living in Japan, cultural identity of migrants and Japanese food. Current projects include promotion of interdisciplinary uses of “academic films,” hosting symposia and teaching “Manga English” at the Manga Faculty of Kyoto Seika University.

Patrick W. Galbraith is a cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on the impact of material conditions on fantasy, specifically how shifts in modes of capitalism and consumption impact otaku culture in Japan. He has worked as a freelance journalist specializing in Japanese popular culture since 2004, which culminated in writing The Otaku Encyclopedia and co-founding Otaku2.com. He also offers a professional weekly guided tour of Akihabara.

Roland Kelts is the half-Japanese American author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US. He has taught at New York University, The University of Tokyo and Sophia University, and has delivered speeches on contemporary Japanese culture at numerous institutions across the US, Japan, Australia and the UK. He is the Editor in Chief of the Anime Masterpieces screening and discussion series and a frequent contributor to National Public Radio.

*In order of presentation. Presentations are 15 minutes each, with question after each.

About ICAS
The Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies (ICAS) is an organization dedicated to fostering study and research on various topics related to contemporary Japan and Asia.

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