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Old 2013-01-25, 02:42   Link #201
SaintessHeart
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Don, you are understating it. In certain countries, learning disability = mental handicap = mental illness.
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Old 2013-01-25, 04:18   Link #202
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post

However, I find Anime and Manga to have much more nuanced depictions of mental illness (along with a fair number of crazed lunatics). For instance, going on with the video game example, the video games Persona 3 and 4 has many fairly grounded realistic depictions of mental illness and depression (and also crazed lunatics ).

Thoughts anyone?
Well, anime characters are drawn to be a bit expressive and sometimes the director exaggerates it to a level so simple people like me easily understands. Western are kinda fast in explaining, I guess....
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Old 2013-02-01, 07:52   Link #203
Ledgem
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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
Furthermore, I think western culture isn't very accepting of mental illness, while Otaku culture is a bit more tolerant and empathetic of psychological "deviancy".
Your usage of the term "Otaku culture" was interesting. There aren't many cultures that are accepting of mental illness. The only ones that I can think of didn't understand what mental illness was, and perceived it as something supernatural (which they didn't always perceive as a bad thing) or as a manifestation of a physical illness. You mention Western culture as not being accepting of mental illness, but it's much the same in Asian culture.

Otaku culture is an interesting differentiator. I don't have solid grounds for this generalization, but it seems that many of the people who work in the anime industry are anime fans, as well (or at least, they have a similar personality). In other words, in some ways it's a culture born of social isolation, emotional suffering from not fitting in (depression), and creativity. Is it any surprise that such a culture would be more understanding and empathetic toward the traits that it's derived from?
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Old 2013-02-01, 08:53   Link #204
DonQuigleone
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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
Your usage of the term "Otaku culture" was interesting. There aren't many cultures that are accepting of mental illness. The only ones that I can think of didn't understand what mental illness was, and perceived it as something supernatural (which they didn't always perceive as a bad thing) or as a manifestation of a physical illness. You mention Western culture as not being accepting of mental illness, but it's much the same in Asian culture.

Otaku culture is an interesting differentiator. I don't have solid grounds for this generalization, but it seems that many of the people who work in the anime industry are anime fans, as well (or at least, they have a similar personality). In other words, in some ways it's a culture born of social isolation, emotional suffering from not fitting in (depression), and creativity. Is it any surprise that such a culture would be more understanding and empathetic toward the traits that it's derived from?
Yes, I mentioned Otaku culture specifically for a reason. If we look at more mainstream Anime, or other Japanese products the understanding of mental illness is if anything worse then western culture. But Otaku products, to my mind, "get" mental illness (in particular depression and social anxiety), and many an anime either is wish fulfilment for the socially isolated (thinking many Mo titles here), or riffing on it in a black comedy way.

By contrast, I don't find western "Nerd" culture to really "get" mental illness at all. Western stuff tends to be ultimately quite normative, and you rarely get the explorations of alternative lifestyles you see in Otaku literature.

The only thing I find in our own culture that ever "gets" mental illness is arthouse cinema, but it's inevitably warped by the "tortured artist" angle of things, and it ends out being a bit glorified.

I think Otaku stuff might be able to do it because it is an industry quite tied to it's own fans, and unlike western "nerd" stuff, the subject matters available are more varied (and it's not just unrealistic male power fantasies, like western comics, but also unrealistic male romantic fantasies).

It's one of the reasons I was quite drawn to Anime in my youth. I watched Harem anime, and for the first time in my life I felt like "Hey, there's other guys out there who get really nervous talking to women! I'm not alone! Woah!" Harem comedies aren't very good, but I felt more in common with the Harem lead then I ever felt for a male lead in any teen flicks, or rom-coms.

Compare, for example, the Big Bang Theory (where nerds are just the butt of jokes about how socially incompetent they are), to, say, Welcome to the NHK, where the main character is pathetic, but treated with sympathy. I can only imagine a hefty enough percentage of the audience of that show were hikikomori themselves, after all.
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Old 2013-02-01, 17:20   Link #205
Ledgem
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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
By contrast, I don't find western "Nerd" culture to really "get" mental illness at all. Western stuff tends to be ultimately quite normative, and you rarely get the explorations of alternative lifestyles you see in Otaku literature.
...
It's one of the reasons I was quite drawn to Anime in my youth. I watched Harem anime, and for the first time in my life I felt like "Hey, there's other guys out there who get really nervous talking to women! I'm not alone! Woah!" Harem comedies aren't very good, but I felt more in common with the Harem lead then I ever felt for a male lead in any teen flicks, or rom-coms.
Very, very interesting observation. Out of curiosity, what do you consider western "nerd culture" to be? I think of things like video games, Star Trek, and Star Wars, although admittedly those are dated now and represent the things that the "nerdy" guys were into when I was growing up.

If your thinking of "western nerd culture" is similar to mine, I think one key difference is the target audience. What made early western video games and series like Star Trek "nerdy" was a heavy reliance on science fiction and fantasy, instead of portraying something set in modern reality. It may be an oversimplification to say, but that was largely it. Culturally speaking, they were still attempting to connect with mainstream culture.

Anime is different right from the start. It's using animation as a medium, which society generally regards as being for children, yet it's conveying stories and concepts that are more fitting for young adults and adults. Simply due to medium bias, it already loses a large chunk of the population (and probably, people who would want to work on it). So there's a selection bias in terms of who's creating anime, and they're also freed up in terms of what to focus on because they're not even trying to appeal to mainstream culture.

Another thought that comes to my mind is the themes dealing with sex in anime. It's not true for all series, but there's a good degree of sexualization and sexual tension presented in anime that you don't see in many other entertainment forms. I was going to write about how western culture (or at least, American culture) is sexually repressed and that accounts for some of the difference, but I'm not so sure... it may just be another manner in which "otaku culture" is feeding off of itself (sexual desires and frustrations from social isolation).

I'll say again, it's a very interesting observation that you made.
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Old 2013-02-02, 01:51   Link #206
DonQuigleone
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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
Very, very interesting observation. Out of curiosity, what do you consider western "nerd culture" to be? I think of things like video games, Star Trek, and Star Wars, although admittedly those are dated now and represent the things that the "nerdy" guys were into when I was growing up.

If your thinking of "western nerd culture" is similar to mine, I think one key difference is the target audience. What made early western video games and series like Star Trek "nerdy" was a heavy reliance on science fiction and fantasy, instead of portraying something set in modern reality. It may be an oversimplification to say, but that was largely it. Culturally speaking, they were still attempting to connect with mainstream culture.
I'd generally use the same criteria for western "nerd culture". The essential example in my mind would be western comics. There it's almost entirely about super heroes, it's entirely a kind of power fantasy (It would be cool to be like Spiderman, shooting webbing everywhere, saving the world...). Western comics are escapist, and it provides a medium to imagine yourself to be unconstrained by physical limits. It's closest Japanese analogue would be "Shonen action" manga, which have a similar idea (though with obviously different genre conventions and cultural baggage). But of course, Manga and Anime, are unafraid of tackling other topics, unlike comics where I'd say a fair amount of nerds would lash out and call it "girly".
Quote:
Anime is different right from the start. It's using animation as a medium, which society generally regards as being for children, yet it's conveying stories and concepts that are more fitting for young adults and adults. Simply due to medium bias, it already loses a large chunk of the population (and probably, people who would want to work on it). So there's a selection bias in terms of who's creating anime, and they're also freed up in terms of what to focus on because they're not even trying to appeal to mainstream culture.
There is that, but to be fair, if we look at the sister medium of Manga (and the two are clearly highly related), manga in Japan does not suffer any real kind of stigma. So while that's an interesting theory, it doesn't quite fit with the way Manga doesn't suffer from being a ghetto.
Quote:
Another thought that comes to my mind is the themes dealing with sex in anime. It's not true for all series, but there's a good degree of sexualization and sexual tension presented in anime that you don't see in many other entertainment forms. I was going to write about how western culture (or at least, American culture) is sexually repressed and that accounts for some of the difference, but I'm not so sure... it may just be another manner in which "otaku culture" is feeding off of itself (sexual desires and frustrations from social isolation).
I don't think western "nerd" culture is sexually repressed, but more romantically repressed. Our culture censures men expressing romantic feelings. The only type of relationship you really see is a kind of detached Casanova type behaviour (like James Bond). That, or the romantic feelings are never really delved into, so Superman saves the damsel in distress (and we can gather he loves Lois Lane), but you don't really see him contemplating his feelings much. It's quite crude compared to what you often see in Anime.

I think generally this part of a bigger problem in that men aren't ever personally vulnerable in our culture. Sure, heroes fail, but they fail going up against super villains, so they have an excuse. You'd never see a super hero fail because he has daddy issues and is continuously traumatized (like Shinji in Evangelion). The difference is that Superman only fails because his opponent is too strong. Shinji fails because his psyche is too fragile(he himself is never too physically weak). That western Anime fans usually hate Shinji shows the lack of understanding of mental illness in our culture. But Otaku can understand Shinji, because they see him in themselves.

The Irony of western nerd culture is that, like Otaku we're a type of outcast, but we don't use that position to free ourselves, but to only further push the masculine standards (which we often couldn't meet in the first place). Otakudom is pretty dysfunctional, but at least they're more self-aware about it. From what I can see, being an Otaku is less lonely then being a nerd.
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Old 2013-02-02, 12:00   Link #207
Ledgem
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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
The essential example in my mind would be western comics. There it's almost entirely about super heroes, it's entirely a kind of power fantasy (It would be cool to be like Spiderman, shooting webbing everywhere, saving the world...). Western comics are escapist, and it provides a medium to imagine yourself to be unconstrained by physical limits.
True, another interesting observation. You didn't claim otherwise, but I think that anime/manga also offer many escapist scenarios. Which gets into your next point:

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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
I don't think western "nerd" culture is sexually repressed, but more romantically repressed. Our culture censures men expressing romantic feelings.
Is mainstream Japanese culture any different? It's not a rhetorical question. I know western culture is often credited with creating the idea of a muscular, emotionless, powerful figure as the ideal man, and more recently the acceptance of more effeminate men has originated from Asia (maybe Korea specifically?), but as far as mainstream culture is concerned?

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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
The difference is that Superman only fails because his opponent is too strong. Shinji fails because his psyche is too fragile(he himself is never too physically weak). That western Anime fans usually hate Shinji shows the lack of understanding of mental illness in our culture. But Otaku can understand Shinji, because they see him in themselves.
I'm not so sure... I think it's a difference in how entertainment is perceived, and what it's watched for. A lot of us like anime because it's easy to relate to and get sucked into. A main character who doubts himself and who is shy around girls is something that we can all relate to; a main character who is a hero and who has a bunch of girls chasing after him isn't a relatable scenario, but it's a fantasy scenario many of us can enjoy. It's a winning combination, then: the viewer connects with the main character's traits, and can enjoy the unrealistic scenarios that they go through. There's some self-introspection tied into it, as well.

Western entertainment is different. I don't think I connect with it very well, so my own interpretation may be a bit off, but I often interpreted it as being a total disconnect. Viewers don't want to be reminded of their own personal flaws, or the struggles that they're encountering in their own life. They want the pure fantasy, and characters that they can idolize and emulate. Seeing someone struggle in the same way that they struggle each day is simply a frustrating reminder of their reality.

Neither of those deal purely with mental illness. However, in being more accepting of showing personal flaws, the culture of anime is certainly more open to it.

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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
The Irony of western nerd culture is that, like Otaku we're a type of outcast, but we don't use that position to free ourselves, but to only further push the masculine standards (which we often couldn't meet in the first place). Otakudom is pretty dysfunctional, but at least they're more self-aware about it. From what I can see, being an Otaku is less lonely then being a nerd.
Insightfully stated, although I don't know about the loneliness. Otaku culture is a bit more extreme than "western nerd" culture, I think. It means that members of the otaku culture can probably connect and understand each other more easily than could "western nerds," but they're also farther removed from mainstream culture than "western nerds" are. (As a broad generalization, that is.)
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Old 2013-02-03, 05:02   Link #208
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I guess I have something to put here...

I've realized I'm a pretty ignorant person, mostly towards things like current world events, popular culture and such. Often enough I do catch wind of rather serious happenings, but usually all the time if it doesn't directly apply to myself I don't feel it necessary to give two shits about it. Things like celebrities and sports I don't really care about either.

Just feeling a little melancholic and envious for not being able to keep up with some folk when it comes to these sorts of things. Makes discussion outside my area of interest a very difficult thing. I have been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome too, so this probably is part of why I'm like this.

I figure I should be making more of an effort to learn more about these things, but I just don't feel like it.
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Old 2013-02-03, 12:30   Link #209
DonQuigleone
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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
Is mainstream Japanese culture any different? It's not a rhetorical question. I know western culture is often credited with creating the idea of a muscular, emotionless, powerful figure as the ideal man, and more recently the acceptance of more effeminate men has originated from Asia (maybe Korea specifically?), but as far as mainstream culture is concerned?
Mainstream Japanese culture can be pretty restrictive ("Salary-men"). In terms of the Asian "Effeminate" man, I think it's more of a fashion thing, not really behavioural. I think the Japanese are more open to reading romantic fantasies, even if I don't really think they're actually more romantic then westerners. Exactly why this is, I don't know. But the idea of having a "virtual girlfriend" or visiting a maid Cafe would seem very odd to an American, and yet these things are not so uncommon in Japan. Otaku seem less inhibited about building a fantasy romantic life.

Quote:
I'm not so sure... I think it's a difference in how entertainment is perceived, and what it's watched for. A lot of us like anime because it's easy to relate to and get sucked into. A main character who doubts himself and who is shy around girls is something that we can all relate to; a main character who is a hero and who has a bunch of girls chasing after him isn't a relatable scenario, but it's a fantasy scenario many of us can enjoy. It's a winning combination, then: the viewer connects with the main character's traits, and can enjoy the unrealistic scenarios that they go through. There's some self-introspection tied into it, as well.
Anime is more inherently "escapist" then western fiction is. The main character is usually fairly bland, and so easy for readers to project themselves onto. Western comics are fantasy of a different kind, usually you're not meant to project yourself directly onto them.

But you are correct that such characters often end out as "Role models" of a kind. I think they're unhealthy role models though, as they never have to deal with the mundane failures that go with "Real Life". They're an impossible standard for people to meet. Which I think is one reason why our Nerd Culture has a less healthy relationship with mental illness then Otaku culture.

I don't think Otaku are as "angry" as Nerds can be, though I haven't interacted much with Otaku much, so I could be wrong.

Quote:
Insightfully stated, although I don't know about the loneliness. Otaku culture is a bit more extreme than "western nerd" culture, I think. It means that members of the otaku culture can probably connect and understand each other more easily than could "western nerds," but they're also farther removed from mainstream culture than "western nerds" are. (As a broad generalization, that is.)
Yeah, I think Otaku seem to create more "stuff" then nerds ever do. Doujinshi have no real parallel in the west. There's nothing quite like Comiket. Their are conventions, but they're rather different in tone, less of a spirit of collaboration.
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Old 2013-02-04, 15:00   Link #210
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There's a key difference between the "Nerd Culture" of North America/Europe/Australia and the "Otaku Culture" of Japan (and perhaps some Asian nations). I think this difference accounts for much of the differences that Don and Ledgem are noticing and referring to. This difference is as follows: Nerd Culture is now basically the new mainstream culture for western civilization, while Otaku culture is not the new mainstream culture for Japan (or Asia in general).

Let me expound on this point by first trying to demonstrate its validity.


Nerd Culture really is now basically the new mainstream for western civilization. Seriously, it is. Just look at how popular "nerd" properties have totally taken over Hollywood in recent years. Hollywood can't seem to get enough of superhero/comic book-based movies. Then there's the Transformers, based on a very popular 80s cartoon show.

Also, in my experience talking to my peers (both online and in the real world) it is very clear to me that a guy 35 or under that doesn't play video games is actually the unusual one. I play video games some, but I probably play them less than the solid majority of my peers to. Nerd culture really has become the new mainstream culture for 20-to-35 aged adults in North America, Europe, and Australia.

But here's the thing - When a subculture goes mainstream, it tends to absorb or co-opt many elements from the previous mainstream culture that its displacing. Just take the nerd characters in the Revenge of the Nerds movies, and in late 80s/early 90s sitcoms (such as Screech from Saved by the Bell, and Steve Urkel from Family Matters). Now compare them to your more modern nerd characters, and nerds/geeks in real life. It's a pretty big difference, imo.

When a subculture goes mainstream, its members obviously no longer feel ostracized. That brings with it a new confidence, and a new expectation of confidence. The modern nerd isn't supposed to be shy around the opposite sex - "That's what we were like back when we were treated like outcasts, but we're not treated like that any more, so we shouldn't be like that anymore!" <--- This is the thinking behind that, I think.

And one of the elements that the Nerd/Geek subculture absorbed/co-opted was this sort of rugged manly ideal that has been promoted in western culture for a very, very long time. Men aren't supposed to cry. Men aren't supposed to act "sappy". Men should be rugged badasses or smooth cool dudes or confident unflappable heroes. That unfortunately doesn't leave much room for men caring about romances and relationships.

Now, Nerd/Geek culture hasn't totally absorbed this - A character like Rambo would have a harder time selling a modern movie than selling a 80s movie, imo - But it has absorbed/co-opted some of it. Enough so that a man showing appreciation/desire for romance (not just sex, but actual romance) may be thought of as "overly sappy" for it. It's unfortunate, but I do think this is where western culture is right now.


In sharp contrast, my impression is that otaku culture did not go mainstream in Japan. What makes me say that? Well, there's a few things, but a clear one is Ore no Imouto. Ore no Imouto presents the otaku as a member of a subculture that struggles against the mainstream culture of its societal context. Ore no Imouto's narrative makes no sense unless its generally reflective of what the otaku culture is like in Japan. In this vein, the otaku is more like the Screech and Steve Urkel of old.

Since otaku subculture never went mainstream, it was never "watered down" (in a sense) by co-opting/absorbing some of the cultural norms and standards of the previous mainstream culture. So this sort of "ideological purity" (to put it in political terms) creates a rich and vibrant subculture that makes the otaku feel like he's talking to unique people that really "get him" when he talks to other otakus. There's fewer compromises, fewer concessions, more distinctiveness, less care of what the average person thinks of you. This isn't entirely good, imo, but it does have some strong upsides.

One final note here is that a member of a somewhat ostracized subculture will naturally have an easier time sympathizing with other ostacized groups than a member of a mainstream culture will. This is for fairly self-evident reasons, I think - The member of the subculture faces similar hardships to other ostracized groups, so there's a "we're in this boat together" sort of comfort there. One group that is often ostracized are those with mental illnesses. Otakus "share their pain" so that makes otakus more sympathetic to them I think (even putting aside cases where otakus endure mental illnesses themselves).


Anyway, sorry for the long rambling post. Hopefully there might be at least a couple decent points in there, lol.
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Old 2013-02-04, 15:56   Link #211
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@Triple_R:

I do think "Nerd Culture" has gone mainstream over the past 5-10 years (Geek Chic is certainly a "thing"), and stuff that would have been considered hopelessly nerdy in the past (like online dating) is now considered "normal". However, while I do think what you say is responsible for some of the difference, I don't think it's responsible for most of it. If we take some typical "Nerd" standards from the 80s and 90s (when nerds were still marginalized), I think if we observe them we'll still find the same narrow fields of expression, and poor depictions of mental illness.

Consider: Dungeon & Dragons, Warhammer, Star Trek, Comic Books(like Spiderman, Superman or Batman), or Video Games like Doom, Fallout or Starcraft. I think if we look at the breadth of our culture, we find products almost entirely devoted to a narrow conflict driven brand of masculinity, with very little introspection, failure or personal vices, and little sentimentality.

Now let's consider Otaku products coming out of Japan around the same time, stuff like Gundam, Macross, Evangelion, Dragonball, Final Fantasy, Visual Novels. Not only are there many standards that are openly sentimental and Romantic (think Macross, Final Fantasy or any visual novel), but in the less overtly "sentimental" storylines like Gundam you still get characters dealing with guilt, shell shock and questioning themselves. That's not something we really get much in western products.

And if we flip things around, while Otaku are outcasts, they also tend to be pretty conservative too, and they're attitudes on many things are not so far from the Japanese mainstream.

Could the difference maybe be due to differences in attitudes to "the self" between Japan and America. In America(and to a lesser extent in the rest of the west) people often think the self is something that can be improved just with willpower, the attitude to depression is often negative because Americans will simply say "Stop thinking negative thoughts!", or that it's a problem waiting to be fixed (with a drug...), there's little effort to really understand it.

Could it be possible that in Japan attitudes are different? Perhaps they think the self is not necessarily something that can or should be changed? So they wouldn't expect a person to "un-depress" themselves. The Japanese do tend to be more willing to help one another out after all.

On the flipside, Japan does have more suicides then the US. It could simply be that there are a lot more depressed people in Japan, so their numbers have reached enough of a critical mass that there's enough of them to form their own kind of "community", if you wrote a manga about being depressed, there'd be enough people who have experienced it themselves that it becomes a viable product, whereas in America publishers wouldn't think it would sell.
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Old 2013-02-04, 17:19   Link #212
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@Triple_R:

I do think "Nerd Culture" has gone mainstream over the past 5-10 years (Geek Chic is certainly a "thing"), and stuff that would have been considered hopelessly nerdy in the past (like online dating) is now considered "normal". However, while I do think what you say is responsible for some of the difference, I don't think it's responsible for most of it. If we take some typical "Nerd" standards from the 80s and 90s (when nerds were still marginalized), I think if we observe them we'll still find the same narrow fields of expression, and poor depictions of mental illness.

Consider: Dungeon & Dragons, Warhammer, Star Trek, Comic Books(like Spiderman, Superman or Batman), or Video Games like Doom, Fallout or Starcraft. I think if we look at the breadth of our culture, we find products almost entirely devoted to a narrow conflict driven brand of masculinity, with very little introspection, failure or personal vices, and little sentimentality.
Well, I think that your typical western male loves conflict/action/violence as entertainment. I definitely include myself here. I'll admit that pure romance or pure comedy or pure "slice of life" will tend to create disinterest in me eventually.


Quote:

Could the difference maybe be due to differences in attitudes to "the self" between Japan and America. In America(and to a lesser extent in the rest of the west) people often think the self is something that can be improved just with willpower, the attitude to depression is often negative because Americans will simply say "Stop thinking negative thoughts!", or that it's a problem waiting to be fixed (with a drug...), there's little effort to really understand it.
Something American and Canadian kids frequently hear while they grow up:

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"Um... What should I be?"

"You can be whatever you want to be! Just put the time and effort in, and you can accomplish your greatest dream."

Adults - Especially parents and teachers - Say this to kids without a hint of irony. It's totally sincere. But it is, of course, not typically exactly true.

Honestly, I think that's where some of the cynicism in modern North American culture comes from - Kids who grew up in the 80s and 90s (like myself) were told this stuff, and at the end of the day, there are some practical limitations on most people here.

The plus side to this is that kids really do believe they can pull this off, and so sometimes... They do! Or they come close enough (small-time musician, able to make a living at it, for example).

Basically, by society promoting individualism and optimism, mot people with even a little bit of talent at something is likely to realize that talent and take it somewhere of value. It's good in a sort of "Talent doesn't go to waste" way.

But on the flip-side, it also results in a lot of dashed hopes and dreams due to some people hoping/dreaming beyond their basic capabilities and talents. It also can make us look a bit too harshly on "failures" perhaps. Sadly, some may include those who suffer from mental illnesses here.


I can't really speak much for Japan here, but perhaps this sort of motivational speaker-esque individualism/optimism just isn't promoted the same way in Japan. Perhaps Hyouka's take on things is more reflective of Japan there. That can be depressing in its own way, of course, but I think it can also help people to more readily accept their own limitations and the limitations of others.

This is probably why western entertainment promotes a sort of Ideal protagonist - Your Kirks, Picards, Supermans, Batmans, Rockys, Hulk Hogans. High-achieving Alpha Males, as it were. Reflective of the dreams we sell kids.

Meanwhile, anime and manga and VNs promotes a sort of Real/Average protagonist. Joe Schmoe, Makoto Everyman, Yuji Everylead. Perhaps this reflects Japan setting realistic expectations; expecting the individual to find a niche, not a dream.
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Old 2013-02-04, 18:01   Link #213
DonQuigleone
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Basically, by society promoting individualism and optimism, mot people with even a little bit of talent at something is likely to realize that talent and take it somewhere of value. It's good in a sort of "Talent doesn't go to waste" way.

But on the flip-side, it also results in a lot of dashed hopes and dreams due to some people hoping/dreaming beyond their basic capabilities and talents. It also can make us look a bit too harshly on "failures" perhaps. Sadly, some may include those who suffer from mental illnesses here.


I can't really speak much for Japan here, but perhaps this sort of motivational speaker-esque individualism/optimism just isn't promoted the same way in Japan. Perhaps Hyouka's take on things is more reflective of Japan there. That can be depressing in its own way, of course, but I think it can also help people to more readily accept their own limitations and the limitations of others.

This is probably why western entertainment promotes a sort of Ideal protagonist - Your Kirks, Picards, Supermans, Batmans, Rockys, Hulk Hogans. High-achieving Alpha Males, as it were. Reflective of the dreams we sell kids.

Meanwhile, anime and manga and VNs promotes a sort of Real/Average protagonist. Joe Schmoe, Makoto Everyman, Yuji Everylead. Perhaps this reflects Japan setting realistic expectations; expecting the individual to find a niche, not a dream.
Aye, I think there is some truth here. America is good at encouraging success, but does poorly with failure, and mental illness, in it's own way is a form of failure.

America has a meritocratic world view, while it has obvious upsides, there's an ugly side to it as well, as there's an assumption that just as the successes are where they are due to their own talent and hard work, the failures are where they are due to their own incompetence and laziness. It can lead to a harsh view of the world in some people.

I think Japanese society takes people more as they are, and there's an idea that there's a role for everyone. It's not a competitive idea as in America (though their education system is rather competitive, strangely...).

Anyway, this could be why Japanese stuff is more empathetic then American stuff.

On the other hand, in Japan people have long committed suicide due to failure of various kind (the whole "Seppuku" thing)

However it's still possible that Japan is a less depressed country then America for these reasons. Japan does have higher suicide rates though, but then Japanese people commit suicide for more reasons then just depression, while in America depression is the primary cause.

I'd be interested in hearing from someone with greater familiarity with Japan.
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Old 2013-02-04, 18:09   Link #214
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Those statistics don't correlate that strongly.

Australia is classified as one of the most happy, content and well off countries at the moment. Whereas Australia also has the #2 suicide rate in the world and the #1 world rate amongst young adult males in the 18-25 range.

So trying to combine Japan with being a country with low pride and low happiness to their suicide rate may have some form of correlation but not as strong as you think.
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Old 2013-02-05, 12:29   Link #215
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This article does make you question just how accurate the suicide rate in Japan really is

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/201.../#.URFBN_LLr3U
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Old 2013-02-06, 14:42   Link #216
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There's a key difference between the "Nerd Culture" of North America/Europe/Australia and the "Otaku Culture" of Japan (and perhaps some Asian nations). I think this difference accounts for much of the differences that Don and Ledgem are noticing and referring to. This difference is as follows: Nerd Culture is now basically the new mainstream culture for western civilization, while Otaku culture is not the new mainstream culture for Japan (or Asia in general).
I liked your post - I thought it was rather interesting. As I was reading it I began to wonder something if we're not making a proper comparison, though.

What are we talking about with "otaku culture"? Anime/manga and video games are pretty much the core "objects" that "otaku culture" is based around. Actually, it might even be fair to say that anime/manga alone are what define "otaku culture," but there's a fair amount of interplay with video games as well. (Note: this is all true for the Western usage of the term "otaku culture" but within Japan it's different, from what I understand; "otaku" are people obsessed with some sort of hobby who don't socialize.)

What defines "western nerd culture"? Video games? Interest in science fiction or fantasy? Live-action role playing? Role playing board/card games? Time spent toying with technology? A person even moderately involved with any one of these activities would be considered a nerd, and yet there's no one defining characteristic.

Put that way, "otaku culture" seems much more cohesive than "western nerd culture." Both terms bring a certain stereotype to mind, but in my own mental grouping, "otaku" are more likely to have things in common than do "western nerds." To reach parity with otaku, you need to divide "western nerd culture" into specializations. "Gamers" seems a bit closer in terms of comparisons (in terms of ability to relate to other members of the same group).

Even with all of that said, I suppose it's not 100% clear to me what the groupings are when I try to define them. It's one of those things that seems very clear, until you try to go for specifics.
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Old 2013-02-06, 16:13   Link #217
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Well, one thing to be aware of is that "Nerds" will never be as cohesive as "Otaku" as western society is far larger and more diverse then Japanese society. Even if we limit the nerds we look at to "English Speaking Nerds", we find a community spread over 88 countries on every one of the world's continents (though in many of those countries it's not that widely spoken, still...), whereas Otaku are only found in one country, Japan. If you add Continental Europe to the mix, then you've got a really diverse community.

Even if we were to take the bare minimum countries where only English is really spoken(USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Ireland) you've still got a community spread out at every corner of the globe.
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Old 2013-02-06, 19:01   Link #218
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Originally Posted by DonQuigleone View Post
Well, one thing to be aware of is that "Nerds" will never be as cohesive as "Otaku" as western society is far larger and more diverse then Japanese society. Even if we limit the nerds we look at to "English Speaking Nerds", we find a community spread over 88 countries on every one of the world's continents (though in many of those countries it's not that widely spoken, still...), whereas Otaku are only found in one country, Japan. If you add Continental Europe to the mix, then you've got a really diverse community.

Even if we were to take the bare minimum countries where only English is really spoken(USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, Ireland) you've still got a community spread out at every corner of the globe.
True. I was actually thinking "American nerds" every time I wrote "western nerds" and just sort of assumed that the rest of the western world was more or less similar. (An assumption like that is the typical American thing to do, amirite? ) Even so, you're correct: even comparing American society with Japanese society, American society is more diverse and it makes sense that such diversity would filter down to sub-categorizations.
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Old 2013-02-06, 19:46   Link #219
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True. I was actually thinking "American nerds" every time I wrote "western nerds" and just sort of assumed that the rest of the western world was more or less similar. (An assumption like that is the typical American thing to do, amirite? ) Even so, you're correct: even comparing American society with Japanese society, American society is more diverse and it makes sense that such diversity would filter down to sub-categorizations.
Yes, even shrinking down to just the USA, you're going to get a lot more diversity then Japan. For instance an African American Nerd from Detroit may not have that much in common with a White Nerd from Texas.

Also, due to the US's presence in the English speaking world, the USA is subject to more foreign influences then Japan would be (for instance Grand Theft Auto, a game very popular in the United States, was made in the UK).

The US is also just geographically bigger. Almost all Otaku would fairly easily be able to go to travel to Tokyo once a year for the Comiket, with almost all of Japan's population being concentrated in the Tokyo Metro area, and the Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe Metro. Meanwhile, an American living in New York would have great difficulty travelling to the San Diego Comic Con, and in fact is very likely to never have even been to the West Coast in his entire life (and even less likely to have travelled to the UK).
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Old 2013-02-07, 10:57   Link #220
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Perhaps this reflects Japan setting realistic expectations; expecting the individual to find a niche, not a dream.
But then you have popular series like Uchuu Kyoudai and especially One Piece that completely go against this theme.

Both these series are about pursuing dreams despite hardships in the past or despite being older and possibly expected to be settled.

Quote:
an American living in New York would have great difficulty travelling to the San Diego Comic Con, and in fact is very likely to never have even been to the West Coast in his entire life
I wouldn't call it great difficulty but of course there is a cost involved: not just airfare but hotel and so forth.

There is also a NYCC of course.

As for going to the UK VS the West coast from the East Coast, honestly I think the cost is almost the same. Maybe I am exaggerating a bit though. I have done both, although have never made it to SDCC, one day hopefully.
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