The Anime Encyclopedia Rides Again

So, keep an eye out for it with your bookstore!

Helen McCarthy: A Face Made for Radio

… or, as some prefer to call it, The Madness of Clements & McCarthy III

Here is is, in all its gilded glory – or rather, here it will be at the end of 2014, just in time for your Christmas gift list. The weight is now so daunting that there’s an e-book version – Stone Bridge Press, as a socially responsible company, doesn’t want to give delivery staff all over the world back strain just before the holiday.

And yes, pedants everywhere, we know that so far anime can’t be conclusively dated before 2017. We were two consistent voices arguing for conservative, securely documented dating during that brief period when the discovery of the Matsumoto fragment led some to posit a date before 1907 for the first animation made in Japan. But “a century” is a fair subtitle tag for an industry that’s been around for at least…

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The academic thread #5 | Anime DVD and placelessness

DVD_BreakingWallI’m now reading the textbook entitled Doing Cultural Studies, The Story of the Sony Walkman, edited by  Paul du Gay et al.  One key aspect of the Cultural Studies approach they highlight in the second section of the book,  is the importance of describing the economic and technical circumstances out of which  is born a cultural artifact like the Walkman, when trying to describe its sociotechnical significance.  After summarizing some of the popular representations of Sony propagated by both the company itself and various public actors, such as journalists, opinion leaders, technology gurus, etc, they set on describing some of the backstage aspects of its extraordinary development. The popular story considers Sony as a sort of economic and technological miracle, born despite the devastation endured by Japan, thanks to the extraordinary dynamism and tenacity of a young entrepreneur Akio Morita, accompanied by his friend, Masaru Ibuka. Their journey starts in a radio repairing workshop which they founded in an old building of Tokyo, and which progressively grew into a global pioneering high-tech  corporation. Often (apparently wrongly) considered to be the first to use a transistor to power radio receivers, Sony became renowned as a company behind some of the most significant technological innovations of the second half of the 20th century and thus, a tremendous influence on the cultural evolution of our societies.  From early on, the legend of Sony has been merged with that of Akio Morita, and to a lesser degree with that of his compere, Masaru Ibuka,  especially in the story of the birth of the Walkman.  The association between Akio Morita and the Walkman is so strong that he has been nicknamed “Sir Sony Walkman” (Sun and Daily Telegraph, 1992, cited p. 45), although, as the authors state, the identification of the true and one origin of the Walkman is impossible. Indeed, as shown by most serious historical and sociological research on specific innovations and inventions, there is never one single starting point to which the whole story of an object can be traced back in one straight line. And the Walkman is no exception. I don’t wish to go now into the details of the sociocultural matrix that has given rise to the various logic embedded into the Walkman, such as the idea of mobility as a way of life or “smaller is better” (aka “small is beautiful”) or the cult of youth, all references that were attached to the new small portable stereo player in marketing and advertising discourses when it was released in the public sphere (around 1979-1980).  But for the authors, this emphasis on the meanings that are attributed to an object so entrenched in our daily lives is one of the important contribution brought by Cultural Studies to our understanding of the processes by which a technology gets adopted, while other never even make it onto the shop shelves.  At this very moment, what interests me most  in their description of the Sony economic and technosocial emergence, is the role played by the company’s name and how it embodies the basic elements that made it a global corporation from its very inception. Indeed, this kind of approach helps highlight the constructed nature of globalization and the role played by various actors, both human and non-human, in this construction. The other reason for my interest in the case of Sony is that it is directly linked to the issue I’m concerned with in the frame of my dissertation, that is the role played by the DVD in the transnational circulation and reception of animes.

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