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Behind anime lines


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Staite, S 2008 , 'Behind anime lines', Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The misuse of soft power terminology for domestic political ends diminishes the
complexity of the original concept and results in a simplistic “cool Japan”
version of soft power. Despite numerous works acknowledging and discussing
anime’s soft power, there is a lack of audience study in this existing discussion.
Policy is being informed by these interpretations of soft power, the international
effectiveness of which relies on audiences behaving as anticipated. The absence
of research into a variable as central as audience limits our understanding of
how soft power functions in practice. Whether anime’s soft power is articulated
as cool Japan or as agitprop, assumptions are involved about audiences
decoding anime according to the dominant-hegemonic reading. When audiences
decode anime, they draw on their knowledge and experiences in ways which
can result in negotiated or resistant readings. To test these ideas I have explored
Hall’s encoding/decoding model. Using textual analysis and interviews with
Gundam’s creator/encoder to identify a dominant, anti-war reading of Gundam
Seed, I then conducted a focus group interview to observe the decoding
practices of non-fan viewers. The focus group research presented in this thesis,
although limited in scope, suggests that the assumptions inherent to the
treatment of audience by popular soft power discourses are problematic,
particularly when issues of warfare and memory are involved. I propose
combining a cultural studies approach with existing research to achieve a more
nuanced understanding of anime and soft power.

Item Type: Thesis - Honours
Authors/Creators:Staite, S
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Copyright 2008 the Author

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