The slogan ‘Cool Japan’ was first used by the Japanese government in reference to its nation-branding projects back in 2005. Since then, the Cool Japan phenomenon has become a site of intensive focus for scholars in Japanese studies, particularly from the points of view of popular culture and creative industries (e.g. Sugiyama 2006, Dinnie 2009, Fujita 2011) and nationalism and nation-building (e.g. Iwabuchi 2007, 2008) (Valaskivi, 2013). Indeed, such saturated focus on this phenomenon has covered extensive and ripe ground from relatively regional frameworks, which examined its impact within Japan, as well as Japan’s influence within the East Asia sphere. In turn, Katja Valaskivi proposed to extend its study paradigms by contextualising Cool Japan through the transnationally circulating practice of nation branding. And thus with this essay, I will approach the study of the Cool Japan branding project by extending upon Valaskivi’s frameworks in her paper ‘Cool Japan and the social imaginary of the branded nation’; and by extension Taylor’s concept of the social imaginary (Taylor, 2002), through their integration into a semiotic and cinematic analysis of director Makoto Shinkai’s 2016 anime film ‘Kimi no Na wa’ (will be referred to as ‘Your Name’ from now on), which I argue will introduce unique observations that may ground Cool Japan’s main circulating features; namely 1) nation branding, 2) the concept of ‘Cool’ and 3) the idea of ‘essential Japanese values’, within a diverse collection of symbols, message streams and candid imagery that can be better appreciated and more readily understood.
Greetings, fellow readers.
Just a quick note, in regards to this new development. 2017 was a relatively spotty year for this blog: while my upload frequency has somewhat dropped, the quality and diversity of coverage I was able to afford has expanded. I’ve published and co-commissioned interviews and transcripts, extended essays, in addition to my usual collection of thought pieces, summaries and capsule reviews.
In considering the ever-changing landscape of the multi-medium phenomenon that is Media, it is imperative that an overarching, theoretical concept, can strike a delicate balance between concrete, set-in-stone statements that roots all sub-concepts, and a malleable nature that allows new modern concepts to be safely slotted in and expand along with time, without much friction with the universal personality of the overarching theories; theories and concepts that concerns themselves with explaining the media and its relationship with human society. In this essay, I analyse Nicolas Couldry’s concept of ‘media rituals’, and consider what it achieves in explaining media’s role in society, how it performs in contemporary society and what has being done in refining this concept.Read More »
Not sure where I heard it, but the perfect completed anime to favourite anime ratio is a clean-cut 10:1: meaning that now that I’ve completed over 200 anime in total (according to MAL at least), I get to update my favourite anime to a list of 20. And that’s good news and bad news.
Duality: a simple but demonstratively cardinal term. The expressionistic properties of ‘duality’ alone can already form the metaphorical backbone of the most impressionable citings of physics, philosophy, mythology and visual arts in human history. Balance in its purest form constitutes two opposing beings; physical or otherwise, keeping each other in check. Gravity and mass, good and evil, light and dark. Man and machine.
Opening remarks: I originally intended this piece to be a particularly academic-driven one…digging deep into the likes of Mark Lochrie & Paul Coulton’s article on shared viewing experiences or ‘Social TV’ and ‘Second Screen Devices’, and Alice E. Marwick’s paper on ‘Imagined Audiences and Context Collapse in Microblogging’. Elements of these studies are still retained in the final product, but I decided to keep discussion more centred on Dragon Maid and my own experiences in watching it…and ultimately deciding that it is an absolute new favourite.
Director: Kanta Kamei
Animation Production: Orange, 3Hz
Music: Go Shiina
Genres: Action, Seinen, Urban Fantasy, Sci-fi
Season: Winter 2016
As the central branding message surrounding the entire company, Microsoft’s 2014 (and still ongoing) multimedia campaign and its tonal stage-setting relies on the narrative implications of a single word: ‘Empower’. Thus, the campaign can be perceived as a hybrid brand establishment attempt by Microsoft, in solidifying its name and association within a worldwide humanitarian, innovative enterprising and creative paradigm. As one of the most recognisable brands in the world, Microsoft’s popular public image is a global but impersonal one.
Desire is an individualistic emotional construct that can almost ironically be considered the direct sibling of society-binding cultural norms, that indoctrinates individuals into adopting a collective mindset that does not stray far from the ‘normal’. What society deems desirable; however logical, the individual must desire as well. Individuals are constantly affected by the sometimes silent, but always prevalent pressures to buy, reshape and realign themselves back into the collective, popular narrative.
As active documenters and expressive anchors for their respective time periods, artists and creative practitioners all demonstrated engagements to the mechanics and characteristics of their time, which are in turn reflected by how they build upon their works, through utilizing tools and technologies of their time. As a result, significant advancements in human technological capabilities are readily reflected upon by artists, who finds new frames of perceptions for their audiences to experience their artworks, and find meaning through and from new mediums of expressions and sensual cues.