Continued from Part One.
I can’t imagine how, but it’s working again! After a bit of messing around, that is. Hopefully I’m not discovered this time. That being said, it looks like this conversation ends with this, so enjoy the conclusion!
<Subject: The Sales God Only Knows>
Hey, if there was anything the Mayoi Neko Overrun anime was not, it’s “by the numbers,” but I do get what you’re saying. (I also had no idea how well Mayoi Neko sold, but apparently it did all right for itself compared to other shows that season!)
I like the idea that the market drives even the proliferation of jargon, but we’re still left with the question, then, of what exactly sells to otaku. Talk about appealing to the lowest common denominator all you want, but for every mindless show that sells well, there are more that fail to measure up to the dreaded “Manabi line.”
One way to look at it is by examining the longevity of the term tsundere. The temptation is to say that it’s a feedback loop: the word is so popular because the character archetype shows up so often in anime (often as self-parodies), and there are a lot of tsundere in anime because it’s such a popular concept, and so forth.
But just what is a tsundere? Well, that shouldn’t be too hard, seeing as how they are practically codified at this point: we recognize a tsundere by her―for they are, despite what Wikipedia will tell you, almost exclusively female―twintails, short stature, small bust size, shimapan, distinctive style of speech (b-baka), or even voice actress (Miss Rie Kugimiya). And so on.
What I want to argue here, though, is that there is no one common factor that all tsundere characters share that define them as such; many characters considered as such don’t even show a dere side! Even the idea that a tsundere is always dishonest about her feelings doesn’t really hold up as a universal truth. In other words, the tsundere as a decentralized concept. Everybody has their own concept of exactly what tsundere is in their own minds.
And it’s this difference in thought that invites heated discussion and the like. I think you can apply the same idea to other terms like moe, owacon, and even otaku. So maybe the reason some words die out is that they lack this broad applicability? That would make them poor topics for good conversation, and subsequently, they fail to become a part of the general otaku vocabulary.
God, my e-mails are always too long. Must work on that; for now, though, I think this is a good place to ask for input. Looking forward to your reply!
surprised the sun is still up
<Subject: I-It’s not like I want to be defined!>
Oh dear. I have to admit that I see what you’re saying, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. Let me explain by example.
Osharé otaku: It’s so prosaically defined, so specific a term (i.e. “an otaku who dresses fashionably”) that it brooks no argument, and hence possesses no potential for discussion. It’s hardly even distinguishable as jargon. Which makes sense, in your view, because a term that just describes one thing very well doesn’t have what it takes to become more.
On the other hand, we have RJ or real-juu, which has gained more currency in English recently (thanks to authors like Akirascuro). Real-juu is superficially simple, describing someone who is “skilled at real life.” But what does that mean, exactly — is real-juu dressing well, getting lots of dates, having friends and places to hang out at on a Friday night? In truth, it’s all of these things and more. You could argue about who’s real-juu all the livelong day, which is perhaps why it’s already on the path to long-term survival.
So, what? That’s our conclusion? To rise into the rarefied air of cultural power, a term must be built to continually escape definition? That’s madness! But… when I really sit and think about it, maybe that’s just the thing. It certainly fits the words that do survive.
The passion, the neverending chase for an ideal: Otaku do it in all things, even in the words they use. That’s probably too rosy a picture, but I’ll take it.
In need of a stiff drink.
<Subject: Ah Eh I Oh Uguu>
Hmm, I can’t shake the feeling that we’re painting a somewhat incomplete picture here…
That aside, we should probably touch a bit more directly on the translingual aspect of this topic before we close up. That is to say, there are Japanese otaku and there are English-speaking fans of… Japanese “modern visual culture,” as it were, and the overlap in terminology is not as high as perhaps some people make it out to be.
There are instances in which English speakers have coined English equivalents for Japanese terms (otoko-no-ko → trap), ones in which Japanese terms have taken on a different nuance in English parlance (hentai), and everything in-between (is weeaboo just an English way to express the Japanese idea of nihon-kabure, or is nihon-kabure just the closest thing Japanese has to expressing an originally English concept?). And it can seriously get out of hand, to the point where youjo is fan-translated as “loli.” Christ, I swear, the fandom is like some kind of retarded Ouroboros…
…Went a bit off-topic there. Anyway, the question I wanted to ask is this: is there a reason why some terms, already established in the Japanese otaku vernacular, don’t click with their English-speaking brethren, while others do? Or is it just dumb luck?
feeling pretty moon foreigner right about now
<Subject: We’ve reached the absolute zone>
Oh my. Do we dare open that box?
In the West, the words we adopted first tend to stick. Even when we KNOW the Japanese terms and popularize them, they end up coexisting with what we’ve already adopted, like doujinshi and eromanga coexisting with hentai. And, in the case of “trap,” not only did we reject josou and otoko-no-ko as common terms, but we also developed our own unique spin-off jargon (What, after all, is a “reverse trap”?).
Bitmap, think about it– we’ve even given new life to terms once dead. Just look at what happened to shounen-ai and yaoi: once defunct sub-sub-cultural jargon, now ubiquitous in the West. What a phenomenal thing! Even working together, can you and I hope to tackle the hows and whys, on both sides of the world?
No, I think this is where we must end: not with a solemn and sad penguin graveyard like I initially thought, but something grander and less precise, like uncovering a single bone in a fossil dig and discovering that it’s merely the tip of a much, much larger creature. That’s our picture of a thousand words, and it’s incomplete… but I think that’s quite all right. We’ve made it together. Let’s see what happens now.
Thank you, my dear friend. Have a wonderful night.
On a clear moonlit evening, ready to rest.
<Subject: To Chant Love in Her Arms>
No, I should be thanking you for the opportunity to have a stimulating conversation like this. I have to say, though, it’s quite an image we’ve conjured: formless ideas kept alive by the desire to define… well, in the end, what but ourselves? Ideas live on because we will them to in our stead, as a reminder that we existed. Or so I’d like to believe, anyway.
With that, a good night to you, 2DT.
dreaming of yoghurt factories