The Great Mirror of Fandom: Reflections of (and on) Otaku and Fujoshi in Anime and Manga

by Clarissa Graffeo

Institution: University of Central Florida
Degree: MA
Year: 2014
Keywords: Arts and Humanities  – Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic  – Arts and Humanities; Otaku; anime; manga; media studies; representation; fan studies; fujoshi
Record ID: 2025186
Full text PDF: http://digital.library.ucf.edu/cdm/ref/collection/ETD/id/6098


The focus of this thesis is to examine representations of otaku and fujoshi (i.e., dedicated fans of pop culture) in Japanese anime and manga from 1991 until the present. I analyze how these fictional images of fans participate in larger mass media and academic discourses about otaku and fujoshi, and how even self-produced reflections of fan identity are defined by the combination of larger normative discourses and market demands. Although many scholars have addressed fan practices and identities through surveys and participant observation, many of these studies work with Western groups of fans whose identities may not be consistent with those of Japanese otaku and fujoshi, and fewer studies have addressed the way these fans are reflected in the very media (anime and manga) they consume. I examine both negative and positive depictions of otaku and fujoshi, as well as the representations of fan gender identities and sexualities, across a broad range of anime and manga, including Rusanchiman (Ressentiment), Genshiken, N.H.K. ni Yokoso (Welcome to the N.H.K.), Otaku no Video, Kuragehime (Princess Jellyfish), Oreimo, and Moso Shojo Otakukei (Fujoshi Rumi). The varied depictions of otaku and fujoshi in these works illustrate the tension between otaku and fujoshi identities and normative social roles, the problematic elements of identities defined through consumerism, and the complexities of the interaction between fans' fictionalized and lived desires.