Otaku dating games
Given that intimate interactions with media and technology are a widespread (and global) phenomenon, otaku might be described as those most actively and intimately engaging with media and technology.By Grassmuck’s estimation, otaku are “media cyborgs” born from the “electronic womb” of Japan (Grassmuck 1990: 6).By the 1970s, the tumultuous years of military occupation, economic recovery and social upheaval in Japan were over, and consumerism was on the rise (Murakami 2005: 119, 192).This engendered a turning point so drastic that Yoshimi Shun’ya argues it was the beginning of “post-postwar society” (Yoshimi 2009).So does that between material reality and the image making we rely upon to see, know, and interact with our world(s).” - Anne Allison Since the turn of the new millennium, fears have intensified that humanity will be lost to the onslaught of technology. The overarching theme is that otaku are “posthuman,” more comfortable with machines than people, confused about the difference between the real and the virtual.Even Sherry Turkle, long known for her more hopeful outlook, has recently started to wonder if technology might be alienating humans from one another (Turkle 2011). This was clear in the international media frenzy surrounding one Japanese man’s public “marriage” to a videogame character in December 2009.“It is in being virtual that we are human: since it is human ‘nature’ to experience life through the prism of culture, human being has always been virtual being. In virtual worlds we can be virtually human, because in them humans, through techne, open up a gap from the actual and discover new possibilities for human being” (Boellstorff 2008: 5, 238).In Japan, producers and distributors of media are disproportionately centered in Tokyo.
The paper begins by describing the place of media and technology in Japan, with special attention given to the condensed and accelerated situation in Tokyo.Indeed, as often as they are associated with technology, otaku are associated with images of the young girls they produce and consume.Ōtsuka Eiji argues that as Japan became affluent in the 1970s, the young girl, or shōjo, came to symbolize in the media consumptive pleasure suspended from (re)productive functions (Ōtsuka 1989: 18, 20).To this end, the paper introduces Martin Heidegger’s philosophy, and interpretations of it by Thomas La Marre, who argues that the imaginary girl or shōjo is “a new god” capable of grounding a free relation to technology.This theory is applied to a close examination of bishōjo games, with a focus on how gender and identity come into play.