1st Edition

The End of Cool Japan Ethical, Legal, and Cultural Challenges to Japanese Popular Culture

Edited By Mark McLelland Copyright 2017
    240 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    240 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Today’s convergent media environment offers unprecedented opportunities for sourcing and disseminating previously obscure popular culture material from Japan. However, this presents concerns regarding copyright, ratings and exposure to potentially illegal content which are serious problems for those teaching and researching about Japan. Despite young people’s enthusiasm for Japanese popular culture, these concerns spark debate about whether it can be judged harmful for youth audiences and could therefore herald the end of ‘cool Japan’.

    This collection brings together Japan specialists in order to identify key challenges in using Japanese popular culture materials in research and teaching. It addresses issues such as the availability of unofficially translated and distributed Japanese material; the emphasis on adult-themes, violence, sexual scenes and under-age characters; and the discrepancies in legislation and ratings systems across the world. Considering how these issues affect researchers, teachers, students and fans in the US, Canada, Australia, China, Japan and elsewhere in Asia, the contributors discuss the different ways in which academic and fan practices are challenged by local regulations. Illustrating from personal experience the sometimes fraught nature of teaching about ‘cool Japan’, they suggest ways in which Japanese Studies as a discipline needs to develop clearer guidelines for teaching and research, especially for new scholars entering the field.

    As the first collection to identify some of the real problems faced by teachers and researchers of Japanese popular culture as well as the students over whom they have a duty of care, this book will be of great interest to students and scholars of Japanese Studies and Cultural Studies.


        1. Introduction: Negotiating "Cool Japan" in Research and Teaching Mark McLelland
        2. Death Note, Student Crimes, and the Power of Universities in the Global Spread of Manga Alisa Freedman
        3. Scholar Girl Meets Manga Maniac, Media Specialist, and Cultural Gatekeeper Laura Miller
        4. Must We Burn Eromanga? On Trying Obscenity in the Courtroom and the Classroom Kirsten Cather
        5. Manga, Anime and Child Pornography Law in Canada Sharalyn Orbaugh
        6. The "Lolicon Guy:" Some Observations on Researching Unpopular Topics in Japan Patrick W. Galbraith
        7. All Seizures Great and Small: Reading Contentious Images of Minors in Japan and Australia Adam Stapleton
        8. "The Love that Dare Not Speak its Name": Chinese Danmei Communities in the 2014 Anti-Porn Campaign Lin Yang and Yanrui Xu
        9. Negotiating Religious and Fan Identities: "Boys Love" and Fujoshi Guilt Jessica Bauwens-Sugimoto
        10. Is there a Space for Cool Manga in Indonesia and the Philippines? Postcolonial Discourses on Transcultural Manga Kristine Michelle Santos and Febriani Sihombing

    Appendix: The Rise and Fall of the King of Lolicon: An Interview with Uchiyama Aki Patrick Galbraith


    Mark McLelland is Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Wollongong, Australia and a former Toyota Visiting Professor of Japanese at the University of Michigan, USA. His recent publications include Love, Sex and Democracy in Japan during the American Occupation (2012); and The Routledge Handbook of Sexuality Studies in East Asia, edited with Vera Mackie (Routledge, 2015).

    "The End of Cool Japan is a forceful intervention into the study and flow of Japanese pop culture around the world. Taking the arousals of fandom seriously, the essays also consider the ways J-pop culture gets both manipulated and constrained (by politics, legal constricts, religion, nationalism) to make it decidedly "uncool" at various hands. Advocating for a critical pedagogy that scrutinizes Japanese pop culture in all its complexities and iterations, the volume is sharp-edged and smartly conceived throughout. This is an invaluable contribution to the field—that of Japanese studies and also beyond."

    Anne Allison, Duke University, USA.

    "From its cheeky, quirky cover, to the selection of its contributors, to its unifying tone, Mark McLelland’s new anthology deserves to shoot right to the top of Japanese Studies reading lists. The End of Cool Japan: Ethical, Legal and Cultural Challenges to Japanese Popular Culture offers a vital and timely warning for all those students who think that scholarship amounts to a diary of what they did at the weekend...I cannot recommend this book highly enough, to libraries, lecturers and students."
    Jonathan Clements, All The Anime, August 2016