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Are Japanese Moe Otaku Right-Wing?

Highly popular blog and 2ch aggregator Alfalfa Mosaic serves up a mix of posts on otaku culture, teenage idols — and conservative politics. We try to figure out what this means.

The Internet bulletin board 2ch has long been the “heart” of Japanese web culture. The primitively-designed, text-based site is almost impossible to navigate for casual readers, yet remains responsible for generating most Japanese language memes.

Even with more professionally-produced content on the Japanese web in recent years, 2ch still controls web culture beyond the BBS: Ranking site Authority.jp lists two 2ch aggregators Itai News (#3) and Alfalfa Mosaic (#5) in the top five most influential Japanese blogs. These blogs locate popular threads on 2ch, pull them out of the notoriously hard-to-read BBS format, and publish them and the best comments as easily-digestible RSS-feed blog posts. Itai News publishes only a few posts a day, mostly centered around bizarre and depressing news items that are currently engaging and enraging 2ch readers.

While similar in content to Itai News, Alfalfa Mosaic — named after a plant virus — covers a wider set of topics, primarily focused around otaku culture. The site offers around 30 articles a day and is an easy way to catch up with the current interests and topics of 2ch-reading otaku. The site, however, is also famous for its right-wing political bent. In this, Alfalfa Mosaic’s “taste culture” — defined as “clusters of cultural forms which embody similar values and aesthetic standards” — seamlessly combines the otaku love of manga, anime, lolicon, and games with populist right-wing politics.

Despite a slew of topics that mainstream society would consider “marginal,” Alexa has the Alfalfa Mosaic listed as the 117th most visited in Japan, close to mass media sites like Oricon or Hot Pepper, and even higher ranked than Rocketnews24 or ZakZak.

Instead of just asserting the otaku-right wing mix as fact, however, we thought it would be more effective to a list out the blog posts themselves. See the Appendix below for a complete list of three days of posts. Analysis follows right below.

Findings: Categories and Favorite Items

The majority of Alfalfa Mosaic posts would fall under the category otaku culture. This includes video games, anime series (especially involving young girls), manga (especially involving young girls), cosplay, vocaloid music, collectible card games, and tokusatsu series.

The next most common category could be broadly defined as politics. The current controversy is the universally conservative worry about welfare benefit fraud (i.e., the Komoto Junichi incident). Alfalfa Mosaic readers also are interested in China, North Korea, and South Korea — usually highlighted in negative news about the countries. (Taiwan, in contrast, is commonly portrayed in a positive light.)

The third most common category is weird and current news items. This is the bread-and-butter of blogs around the world, and most of the posts are things that would be found on similar sites in other cultures: funny cat videos, animated gifs, bizarre happenings, etc. Most overlap with Itai News is in this category.

Finally, there are many articles covering women and sex. Readers adore idols, AKB48, voice actresses, animated female characters, women who look much younger than their age, and women with large breasts. References to real life adult women are mostly negative — portraying them, for example, as gold-diggers who are marrying for money.

Analysis in Dialogue

What conclusions would you draw from this data set?

Just from an Occam’s razor approach, the cultural mix of Alfalfa Mosaic suggests that the men who want to read a site about little girl anime and gaming also want to read about right-wing political content. We should understand that there is a sub-section of the web population interested in both topics.

But the otaku are apolitical! They are just ignoring or tolerating the right-wing stuff on the site.

Why would you mix these two particular categories of content — moe-focused otaku culture and right-wing politics — if they didn’t appeal to the total readership? If the otaku were turned off by right-wing politics, wouldn’t a site with only otaku culture be more successful? And vice versa, if you were into right-wing politics why would you read a blog that is dominated with posts about anime like Smile PreCure? Alfalfa Mosaic is clearly a successful site. This formula works.

What’s more, we see the exact cultural combination of lolicon idols and right-wing thought in other parts of Japanese culture, especially the AKB48-loving, China-hating magazine Weekly Playboy.

Compare this to massively popular U.S. West Coast Boing Boing, which combines science geekery, bizarre (but mostly positive) news, and DIY crafts with vaguely liberal and libertarian politics. This formula is highly successful on the English-language web, and there would be nothing controversial about saying that Boing Boing readers skew Democratic. If someone posted an article about “games that girls like are boring” on Boing Boing, both readers and editors would revolt. If that comparison rubs you the wrong way, similarly-formatted and often juvenile male-driven 4chan is home to much more libertarian and anti-authoritarian causes than conservative ones.

So you are making the ridiculous claim that all otaku, lolicon fans, and moe fans are right-leaning?

Of course not. Not all otaku read or contribute to 2ch, and we should not confuse the two groups. There is, however, an intersection between these two groups that is large enough to boost Alfalfa Mosaic into high page views, and we should assume that some relatively large percent of moe fans either hold or are comfortable with right-leaning political views.

But wait, do Alfalfa Mosaic posts really reflect “right-wing” political thoughts?

This is an important point. The themes skew right but posts rarely advocate voting for conservative politicians or activism within the political process. The recent 2ch support of LDP politician Katayama Satsuki for welfare fraud audit is an interesting exception. There has also been pro-Ishihara Shintaro sentiment for wanting to purchase the disputed Senkaku Islands.

In general, 2ch’s brand of conservatism is mostly an identity politics based in populist resentment against other minorities — women, zainichi Koreans, Asians, gays, new religions, the poor, outcast populations — who are seen to be given an unfair attention from the government and society. They are obsessed with the idea of a conspiracy where broadcasters like Fuji TV are “forcing” (gori-oshi) Korean content onto the Japanese public. 2ch posters see themselves as the protectors of traditional Japanese values, the arbiters of “common sense.” They are the very angry “silent majority.”

In the realm of domestic politics, this translates into being against expanding the welfare state but since 3/11, they have also become anti-TEPCO. In foreign affairs, they are strongly against North Korea and China, as well as suspicious of South Korea’s recent economic success.

But aren’t most subcultures in Japan politically conservative?

Yes, true subcultures now skew right — but in different ways. Yakuza are the traditional manpower for uyoku organizations. Yankii/gyaru exhibit archetypal working class/lower middle class values of early marriage and traditional gender roles. 2ch, on the other hand, exhibits views of populist conservatism often labeled “net uyoku.”

The best comparison for otaku, however, may be with other consumer segments, which are almost wholly apolitical. Fashion magazines do not have anything that could be construed as “political” content.

Are you saying that moe media has conservative themes?

Not at all. Most of these series are made for pre-teen girls or made to look like they are made for pre-teen girls. They too have nothing that could directly be called “political content.”

The creators of so many classic anime and manga media series come from a background in left-wing politics! Otaku can’t all be right-leaning.

Yes, but Alfalfa Mosaic is not particularly interested in the anti-war messages of Gundam and other classic anime. The curation focuses on series featuring adorable little girls, nominally not made by the great post-Leftist manga writers. We’re also talking about the consumers of moe content — not the artists themselves.

So are you saying that moe makes you conservative or that conservative politics make you want to read about fictional little girls?

I don’t think these two interests share a causative relationship. I would suggest they are correlated, but even if you don’t believe that, they do appear to sit happily within the same subculture.

Explaining the link between the two requires some level of psychological analysis, which gets messy when you assign motives to an entire segment of people. That being said, being openly interested in “little girls” — especially when done in tandem with berating feminism and modern Japanese women — suggests the desire for more traditional gender roles, male dominance, or at least a disinterest in maturity among the opposite sex. Hard not to see this as a reactionary position in the context of the female gender’s steady (but slow) progress in the last half-century.

Why should I believe this analysis from just three days of posts?

After three years of reading the site, I found these random three days of posts to perfectly fit site’s basic content pattern. I recommend that you read Alfalfa Mosaic on a daily basis to get a rounder picture of the site’s particular interests.

Who reads Alfalfa Mosaic though? People in Tokyo? Outside of Tokyo? How old? My otaku friends in Tokyo never talk about right-wing topics.

That is the missing piece here. Google Insights for Search suggests that many of the readers may be proportionally higher from non-urban regions, such as Yamaguchi Prefecture. There is likely regional bias in the attitudes reflected in the site, which may be driving a some of the conservative worldview. That being said, this site is still very popular when viewed across the entire Japanese web (although losing steam), and we should still count non-Tokyo moe otaku as representative of moe otaku.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

W. David MARX
May 30, 2012

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.

39 Responses

  1. miffy Says:

    Spot on. A cursory look at 2ch shows that the Japanese internet is controlled by a of misogynist otakus. The stuff even bleeds out to Youtube and NicoNico.

    A comparison must be made to 4ch and Reddit. Reddit does have a thread on “jailbait” and “mens right”. But those are subculture threads in the vastness of Reddit. And a lot of Reddit users are not anon. Same goes for 4chan.

    Alfafa was immune to the sutema controversy? Did that only affected Yaoran/anime matome blogs?

  2. ian Says:

    I seem to remember Azuma discussing otaku conservatism as well, although I think he focussed on the illusory idea of otaku-as-true-successors-to-Edo-culture. I’d also add that otaku seem to share with right wing political culture in the West, particularly America, a combination of victim mentality and a let’s say “postmodern” attitude to reality. I feel like there’s a connection here but I can’t put my finger on exactly what right now. I definitely think there’s a parallel between otaku’s pick & mix approach to culture (are we still allowed to say “superflat”?) and the U.S. right’s “we create our own reality” approach to politics, although I don’t see why that should necessarily be confined to right wing politics (Orwell certainly didn’t think so).

    I think women get a pretty hard time on English language video game forums as well though, although I’d agree that there’s been a concerted pushback against some of the more rampant misogyny of video game culture over the past few years.

  3. Anymouse Says:

    “confined to right wing politics”
    It isn’t. It is simply modern politics, and as many more traditionalist commentators have said today’s “conservative” is just yesterday’s liberal. Look at the Cheney’s, or Laura Bush (who is prochoice).

  4. Chiaki Says:


    I recall the exact same from Azuma. It was actually one of my principle arguments in my paper for my senior thesis a few years ago when I wrote on Touhou. The game’s setting is set in an idealized world reminiscent of a time now past seen through rose-tinted glasses. The game presents the pleasant sides of mythology and history or nationalist pride while ignoring the more painful or ugly faults. 2ch’s neo-conservative streak fits such an argument.

    If I may argue though, while Fuji may be suspected of a “liberal agenda,” it is important to point out that Japanese society and its media itself romanticizes its past quite extensively.

    A lot of the “Japanese side” of things as I grew up, I saw that Japanese were quick to play a repentant victim in World War II rather than an agitator. The fire bombing of Tokyo and the atomic bombs not-withstanding, the invasion of Okinawa and the Japanese campaigns of the Philippines are depicted largely as repentant through self-victimization. I’d get the message that war is bad, but I would often miss the lecture that Japan was bombed for being a military aggressor.

    2ch is hardly the only conservative entity in Japan, and it might reflect larger sentiments as well. Though this connection might be harder to define.

    All in all, though, it’s just as how an American might believe Washington was the best general out there and that Paul Revere’s ride was not a fabrication. It spawns nationalism, and in Japan’s case, that goes back to elevating itself above other Asian nations and the reinstatement of the Emperor (much of the romanticized authority of the Emperor goes back to U.S. Occupation policy following the war wherein he was not charged as a war criminal).

  5. miffy Says:

    I forgotten that Reddit users were pushing Ron Paul to be president.

    But I disagreed that 2ch/moe is right wing in the traditional sense. Looking at the above post, I don’t see much on history revisionism or respecting the Emperor. Nobody likes Ishihara or Hashimoto so 2ch “neocons” are not the same with the “real world neocons”.

    Its more like 2ch wants to go back to the 60’s when Japan was No. 1 in Asia and money was good all around. They might just be representative of a bitter generation.

  6. Aeon Says:

    This reminds me of how many literary critics whenever they bothered to say something about fantasy fiction it was always that fantasy was somehow conservative or regressive, and when they were especially annoyed that they saw some genre fiction they would call it fascist because of those observed characteristics; or perhaps even the Atlantic article a few years ago that described liking cute things as a form of sadism. Alfalfa Mosaic mat be right wing politically, but I wouldn’t take it as representative of Moe otaku in general without some further demographic analysis. I’m seen too much careless sociological cultural criticism use for various hatchet jobs to really trust such a claim without good proof. It’s a plausible possibility, but hardly certain.

  7. W. David MARX Says:

    they would call it fascist

    Fascist is a loaded, clearly pejorative term, and not what this post is supposed to be. Calling the politics on Alfalfa Mosaic “right-wing” is not meant to be a jab at the site or at otaku. Anti-NK, anti-SK, anti-Chinese, anti-feminism, anti-DPJ, anti-welfare state, anti-minority sentiment sentiments are normally held on people who call themselves conservative or right-wing. These sentiments exist on a site that is predominantly about anime and manga.

  8. Aeon Says:

    I didn’t really mean to say that you implied that(and you didn’t) and apoligize for that; but that I have a mild distrust of cultural criticism due to well, people throwing around pejoratives like fascist to various things that are afforded less “respectability”(not to be confused with actual discrimination or social prejudice that results in things like Jim crow laws, that’s an entirely different topic). This is a topic I would like to see deeper information and whys, though, but I sincerely doubt that such information will be forthcoming. A deeper sociological or anthropological look into any internet group is something I’ve never heard of.

  9. jpmeyer Says:

    “If someone posted an article about “games that girls like are boring” on Boing Boing, both readers and editors would revolt. ”

    Meanwhile, if someone posted that on Reddit it would get thousands and thousands of upvotes.

  10. Blah Says:

    The entire Japan is leaning on the right. The country is so hopelessly conservative that it’s beginning to self-destruct.

  11. Anymouse Says:

    “Its more like 2ch wants to go back to the 60′s when Japan was No. 1 in Asia and money was good all around.”
    That would not be surprising. Many American conservatives can easily be accused of thinking the same thing. I don’t think David Marx really expects to find much in the way of genuine traditionalism there, given that no one expects to find such stuff on a forum where people openly denigrate flesh and blood marriage.

  12. satow Says:

    It’s fun how you analyse this as if you were some bureaucrat at the NSA warning of dangers from a new nazi outbreak.
    “hey are obsessed with the idea of a conspiracy where broadcasters like Fuji TV are “forcing” (gori-oshi) Korean content onto the Japanese public.”
    Obsessed? Conspiracy? You really don’t think that the change of coverage lately is suspect? He you’re the man who best knows how Dentsuu really is as stereotypical conspiratorial monopoly. Why would japanese like that the advertising monopoly is pushing content from a foreign country who happens to hate Japan?
    They paint Taiwan in a positive light because Taiwan happens to like Japan. You sure know that.

    I also assume that being anti Tepco is a characteristic of right wing populism, because liberal sophisticates are all for mismanaging nuclear power and pushing the externalities to the general public. Also welfare scams are no biggy.

    Say what you will but 2chan is the only place where japanese people speak their mind. Their aesthetics are problematic but painting moe anime and right wing as mirror sides of a general perversion is slandering.

  13. cuc Says:

    >let’s say “postmodern” attitude to reality
    >the U.S. right’s “we create our own reality” approach to politics

    I’m not entirely ignorant about U.S. right politics, but really don’t get this part. Would you explain it a little bit :-) ?

    >Its more like 2ch wants to go back to the 60′s when Japan was No. 1 in Asia and money was good all around

    Indeed, otaku nationalism leans strongly toward isolationism rather than imperialism. That’s a big topic in itself.

    >It was actually one of my principle arguments in my paper for my senior thesis a few years ago when I wrote on Touhou. …

    Wow ah. I think this is quite an oversimplification of Touhou – at least, the body of work itself (the Touhou “canon”). In my opinion, while Touhou is something grown out of the moe culture, it is special and different from the culture surrounding it in some important ways. At its core, beats a thoroughly anti-authority heart of Taoism.

    What a typical male moe otaku takes away from Touhou is an entire other matter.

    More related to this blog post, Touhou does contain a Chinese caricature character though – she fights with kung fu, boasts about “4000 years of Chinese history”, wears a red army hat, and her weather temperament is even “sand storm”!

  14. Carl Says:

    If they want to get Zainichi Koreans out of their culture, they might be surprised at how much of the anime and manga they like would go away with them, as more than one prominent creator who goes by a Japanese name is of Korean ethnicity.

  15. Aeon Says:

    >>I’m not entirely ignorant about U.S. right politics, but really don’t get this part. Would you explain it a little bit :-) ?

    In america the right wing fund a system of think tanks, lobbying groups and news organizations that serve to determine the agenda in the news using claims of liberal bias and corruption(all false claims, by the way) agaist the mainstream media. This makes it so they can determine what is considered to be “fact” or “true” instead of independent and rigorous investigation. That’s where american climate denialism, crony capitalism, and anti-social program support comes from. It’s “postmodern” in the sense that “truth” is only what the dominant narrative is, and the right wing seeks to manipulate that.

  16. Anymouse Says:

    Well, you are coming from a left wing perspective. The right sees things from a different direction.

  17. Anymouse Says:

    It really is post modern, is it not?

    Speaking of which, if we want to see a completely original comparison of incest and homosexuality, look no further than the link below:

  18. Chuckles Says:

    I dont know where my older post went, but it was about Nathan and Gomanism and American comics.

    […I’m not entirely ignorant about U.S. right politics, but really don’t get this part. Would you explain it a little bit :-) ?…]

    This is not a “right wing” thing, I submit. Neocons are not right wing , and the whole “we create our own reality” thing is more neocon than traditional right wing conservative politics. This philosophical outlook itself is a weird combination of Straussian and Nietzschean thought – take your Beyond Good and Evil sort of mentality, with a little flavoring of Ubermensch type talk and Straussian endorsement of doublespeak, subterfuge and what you would well consider the antiliberal, antilibertarian and anticonservative mindset of his students and you have “We Create Our Own Reality” – what they mean is they cant be constrained by moral considerations or the facts on ground – in the face of possessing the Power needed to overdetermine such realities.

    You can see that its based on a reaction to Leftist thought, and not traditionally conservative at all. Its is clearly antiempirical, pace Burke, Hobbes, etc.

  19. Mulboyne Says:

    I notice you use “populist” and “populism” a good deal but always qualify it with “conservative” or “right wing”.

    Isn’t “populism” alone the better term?

    A number of stories on 2ch and the associated aggregators are anti-corporate. Companies with poor employment practices, shoddy service, and business activities verging on outright fraud are frequently highlighted.

    I’m not sure there’s any clear opposition to the expansion of welfare on 2ch either. There is outrage about Komoto’s mum (and apparently his wife’s mum) getting payments but a good deal of that is fuelled by the fact he’s perceived as wealthy as well as belonging to Yoshimoto Kogyo.

    In opposition to that, there’s also outrage whenever social services neglect the poor, elderly and needy, such in cases where people are found starved to death with their utilities cut off.

    You can be opposed to benefit fraud and unjust entitlements without wanting to shrink the welfare state.

    There’s also distrust of the influence of big media companies and contempt for elites in general. If you start by calling it “populist conservatism” rather than just populism then you don’t capture all the social concerns on display.

  20. W. David MARX Says:

    Well, no. There is leftist populism and rightist populism, and the 2ch/Alfalfa Mosaic rhetoric shows absolutely no signs of leftist populism. Even if you take out the xenophobia and shades of classic anti-communism in their hate of China and North Korea, they use no language that shows sympathy with socialism, labor movements, or people power. They are hostile towards the DPJ, let alone classic leftist organizations such as the teacher’s union, the JCP, or labor unions.

    I am not sure there is a particularly attractive left in Japan at the moment nor much base of liberal democratic humanism in Japanese society, but even with that background, 2ch’s politics are first and foremost identity politics that map pretty closely to the classic themes of post-war right-wing thought in Japan. People on the Internet understand Alfalfa Mosaic to “lean right” — not just me.

    It’s fun how you analyse this as if you were some bureaucrat at the NSA warning of dangers from a new nazi outbreak.

    This is your reading of my reading.

  21. miffy Says:

    2ch is anti Tepco but wasn’t the anti nuke protest organized via twitter and facebook?

    Then those anti korean programming at Fuji TV protest, wasn’t that organized/disseminated predominantly on 2ch?

  22. satow Says:

    I’m just getting this vibe from your writing:
    In the 90s Japan was the coolest place on earth, a country where people had taste, the average japanese was a hip connoisseur who enjoyed the most advanced music and fashion, and sympathized with trendy progressive ideas.

    Then Sargon unleashed the orcs and Japan became a tacky land of tasteless pedophile rednecks.

    I understand it sucks to get to Japan after the golden age had ended, stuck with AKB and yoshimoto’s yankii army on TV. But politics has nothing to do with it. 2chan is a huge place, where moe fandom really isn’t that big. Read himasoku.com, or other of dozens of aggregators.

  23. Anymouse Says:

    It is hard for me to wade into this debate, especially seeing as how I am only just beginning to learn Japanese. I admit it is hard to believe that most Moe fans have much of an interest in politics of any sort. But it is not unheard of for some American otaku to be pretty far to the right. And we can see that Japanese otaku are becoming one of the most profitable taste markets in Japan. Look at the ads on that site.

  24. W. David MARX Says:

    In the 90s Japan was the coolest place on earth, a country where people had taste, the average japanese was a hip connoisseur who enjoyed the most advanced music and fashion, and sympathized with trendy progressive ideas.

    This was definitely my initial position, but I’ve tried to qualify it recently in that ’90s culture was essentially the product of over-representation in the media of upper-educated middle class and art school graduate tastes. All the hipness wasn’t necessarily a reflection of actual tastes, but control of one elite group over cultural production. That has faded, and the rise of yankii/gyaru, for example, is probably much closer to the “real” Japan, especially outside of Tokyo.

    But politics has nothing to do with it. 2chan is a huge place, where moe fandom really isn’t that big.

    Yes, but as I’ve pointed out Alfalfa Mosaic is a particularly popular aggregator and it does focus on young girls (who 劣化 when they get to be 18) and anime meant for preteen girls. It’s 5x more popular than himasoku.com. You are right that 2ch has a lot of different things. I’m asking why one of the most well-read curations of 2ch content tends to spend equal time on moe and issues traditionally understood to be conservative.

  25. satow Says:

    Yeah I know, they are crying bloody murder because まいんちゃん just turned 13. It’s that bad.
    Then again T.E. Lawrence used to sleep with his 12 year servant, and he’s a hero. Who are we to judge?

    Now seriously, 2ch pedophile population has a certain weight, but not majoritary, let’s say 30%. The right wing population is around 70%. 2ch is, in economic terms, a very much lower middle class arena, if mostly social misfits who can’t be called mainstream. But they are socioeconomically indeed a part of the lowbrow revolution you deplore.

    But look at it closely. Elite domination produced a hip, tasteful, awesome, yet socially conscious (leftist) culture. Now that the lower class is in charge, rightist bigotry is on the rise. Isn’t it ironic? That should tell you something.

  26. W. David MARX Says:

    This little PBS video about Reddit (http://youtu.be/fXGs_7Yted8) is interesting when you think about it in the context of this 2ch debate:

    1. Can you imagine a Japanese media talking about 2ch in any sort of positive way? (I suspect this has way more to do with Japanese mainstream media bias against the Net rather than because of the content of 2ch.)

    2. Reddit top guys admit that there is a misogyny problem on Reddit, but there are women moderators and structures in place to create awareness of the issue. This doesn’t solve the problem in full, but defenders of the site at least talk about misogyny as a problem. I don’t think 2ch has that kind of public awareness of any “problems” with the content. This may stem from the fact that 2ch isn’t run by “anyone” anymore.

  27. satow Says:

    Why reddit? Reddit is a monastery of liberaltarian thought.

    Go to 4chan and you’ll see every single day people sharing pictures of under age girls.
    Is there a misogyny problem in 4chan? Are they doing anything about it?

    And how on earth is anyone supposed to criticise moe fandom in a country where government ministers praise AKB48? Misogyny is peanuts where Akimoto and Johnny when raping girls and boys at will.

  28. Cannibalism, Salty Fruit, And Conservative Otaku [Sunday News] Says:

    […] leave it at that. Proceed at the risk of reading what can’t be unread. [via News On Japan] Are Japanese Moe Otaku Right-Wing?: Although the title of this article is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever read, […]

  29. miffy Says:

    The thing people need to realize is 2CH is the CENTER of the Japanese internet. No other side reaches it importance or scope. 4chan,Reddit or Neogaf are not the center of the internet (arguably there is none in the West/Rest of the World).

    Why is Moe otaku’s sharing the same room with very young idols and that special brand of 2ch right wing politics? This is true in Alfafa and definitely in 2ch. I said its a manifestation of a bitter generation of men converging with the men who are shunned by females.

  30. Anymouse Says:

    A book and essay that has helped me understand this can be found in the book I’ll Take my Stand. Donald Davidson’s essay A Mirror for Artists goes into some detail on this. I wrote an essay discussing this in relation to moe anime that no one seems to want to read, and I am probably channeling it in this post. Basically, what it comes down to is the near complete absence of any such thing as authentic manhood or femininity in a postmodern consumerist society. Look at Isao Takahata, or Hayao Miyazaki. Both were born before the rise of the “100 million middle class”. Look at the creators and consumers of much of the lolicon and moe subcultures. We find a very different group of people, with different backgrounds. Many of them have probably never spent extended amounts of time with factory workers or peasant girls. (Neither have most of us.) If you watch the Director’s Commentary for Wings of Honneamise the director says he had to take the animators to a ski resort because they lacked first hand experience with snow and couldn’t get the level of realism he wanted. That was in 1986-1987.

    The abundance of moe and lolicon in the present day market for animation is probably for similar reasons: the people making and consuming cartoons today have no experience with real life womenhood, and the real life womenhood they do experience is intensely dissatisfying. Therefore they create fictitious self referential alternatives that have no relationship to traditional manhood or femininity. It is reasonable to question whether there is any possible alternative to this in a modern society like Japan, or even the United States.

  31. satow Says:

    2ch is not the CENTER of anything. 2ch is an otaku cave that no normal person would ever admit to visit.
    The channelers though are quite funny, basically because they speak their mind without politeness. Which has produced the big market on アフィ blogs, which probably have way more readers than the actual BBS with its arcane browsers.

    That 2ch is so prevalent is by defect, the japanese internet simply sucks. There’s no content there by mainstream people or firms. The Dentsuu centered media industry has always tried its best to contain and ignore the internet, as all readers of Marxy should know.

    Btw Hayao Miyazaki is perhaps the worse lolicon of them all, and so considered by 2ch. All this little girls saving the world.

  32. W. David MARX Says:

    2ch.net actually ranks pretty high on Alexa for what it is.

    To split the difference in this debate, 2ch is the center of the Japanese web, precisely because there is no better, professional center.

  33. Carl Says:

    I think Yamaga taking the animators to Niigata has more to do with the fact none of them were from snowy climes, as he was, and he wanted verisimilitude, even down to a sense of the gloominess of the winter skies over the northern Sea of Japan. Tsurumaki is from Niigata prefecture, I believe, but he wasn’t at GAINAX when the film was made.

    I keep getting bothered by this thought–the Internet is only as trustworthy a guide to social reality as the particular words and pictures posted on it. To judge reality by the Internet, you are limited to how that reality is reflected online, just as research conducted online is limited to that knowledge which is accessible online. And even at that, it isn’t clear what *exactly* the relationship is between that content and social reality as lived day-to-day. “Honest opinions” expressed anonymously online may arguably give a *less* accurate picture of a society, since social reality is not lived with honesty or anonymity.

  34. miffy Says:

    And now 2ch has banned some aggregator sites

    Yaoran was involved in the sutema controversy so I wonder this is some attempt to maintain “integrity”

  35. Anymouse Says:

    “taking the animators to Niigata has more to do with the fact none of them were from snowy climes”
    That is true, but it shows that if approachable and authentic women are snow, moe fans simply don’t live in snowy climes or have any way of getting there.

  36. filosofem Says:

    I think the moe part is redundant. Otaku culture had been right-wing (or at least could be characterized as such) long before the rise of moe circa year 2000. Moe appears to have some relevance only because it’s the predominant theme in contemporary otaku culture.

    ian’s comparison to the political culture of the US right-wing is an excellent point. There are definitely some striking similarities between the two. After all, what are otaku best at, if not creating their own reality?

    Just my two cents.

  37. Patrick Says:

    For those interested in exploring possible connections between lolicon and right-wingers, check out this article


  38. Anymouse Says:

    “Otaku culture had been right-wing (or at least could be characterized as such) long before the rise of moe circa year 2000.”
    But this is still a notable development. Moe and lolicon are quite arguably innovative approaches to sexuality, even if they are reactions. I would say they probably are reactions, the problems being that they are not very well grounded reactions.

  39. Anymouse Says:

    Read that article. I think it overemphasizes a connection between conservatives of the past and present day lolicon culture. The radical changes that David Marx has described in the youth entertainment market and the economy are the factors that should get the primary blame when looking at the rise of this kind of lolicon culture. Trying to overbroaden this issue eventually winds up with us discussing lolicon in the Tale of Genji and then the term has lost all meaning.