“Princess Robot Bubblegum” Critiques “Cool Japan:” An Illustration of the Impact of Japan’s Soft Power Movement through a Cross-Cultural, Cross-Media Response


The anime parody ‘Princess Robot Bubblegum’ found in Grand Theft Auto IV has stirred controversy in both video game and anime fan communities: Some members recognize the parody's alienation as a critique of Japan's attempt to build cultural capital and soft power; others argue that the episode illustrates how humor can be used to foster global connectedness.
To examine this situation, I have conducted a critical discourse analysis of the parody, four articles published on anime and game websites, and YouTube comments about the episode. I will use the results of this analysis, in combination with Cavallaro's concept of anime synergy, to argue that the inclusion of this parody in one of America's most popular video games illustrates Japan's soft power success based on four content terms (anime, otaku, hentai, fan service) and five theoretical terms (anime synergy, soft power, cultural capital, cool Japan movement, cultural identity, living world game). I will also provide a brief overview of anime's history in America.
Through this approach, I will explore what Japan's success means to Japanese and American culture in terms of connectedness and alienation by focusing on how Princess Robot Bubblegum parodies five values commonly treated by anime (peace, environmentalism, globalization, adaptation, and sexuality) and the practice of incorporating fan service that has become popular in anime. I will also demonstrate the value of and necessity for analyses of popular culture media based on how popular culture can and does affect global communities.

Author Information
Christina Bethel, East Carolina University, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2013
Stream: Arts & Humanities

This paper is part of the ACAH2013 Conference Proceedings (View)
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