Otaku Pedestrians in Tokyo: Fan Consumption and Urban Politics of “Visuality”


Otaku culture is mostly studied as a part of consumption culture and information society since the early 2000's. The question of the cultural meaning of the everyday life of otaku fandom is however neglected, buried under the textual analysis of anime series or the impact of 'Cool Japan' as an international economic success. Otaku culture is nevertheless a urban phenomenon, entangled in cities' technological, sociological and economic infrastructures of the pedestrian everyday life. Constructing a new territorial representation of Otaku culture is essential to understand nowadays urban politics of visuality in Japan. Otaku tourism, otaku cities polarize urban space as a place of mediation in which the moving images of anime characters becomes an important visual element of landscapes used by fans as landmarks for social interaction. Recalling of Swati Chattopadhyay's lecture of Michel De Certeau about visibility in the city, this article will propose a multisensorial mapping of urban otaku practices, searching for the political dialectics of claiming visually a presence in the city through media consumption. Exploring West Ikebukuro (Tokyo) as an media environment colonized by female otaku in the past decade, this study will describe the tensions between political representation and consumption as tactics to occupy urban space with both economic and visual media weight: otaku everyday life is a form of 'citizenship' it is a subcultural negotiation of urban space that could enlighten our understanding of recent otaku fandom history as a political struggle for visuality.

Author Information
Ernest Dit Alban Edmond, Concordia University,Canada & Paris Saint-Denis University, France

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2016
Stream: Media Studies

This paper is part of the ACCS2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon