Anime’s Media Mix
Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan
Publication Year: 2012
In Anime’s Media Mix, Marc Steinberg convincingly shows that anime is far more than a style of Japanese animation. Beyond its immediate form of cartooning, anime is also a unique mode of cultural production and consumption that led to the phenomenon that is today called “media mix” in Japan and “convergence” in the West.
According to Steinberg, both anime and the media mix were ignited on January 1, 1963, when Astro Boy hit Japanese TV screens for the first time. Sponsored by a chocolate manufacturer with savvy marketing skills, Astro Boy quickly became a cultural icon in Japan. He was the poster boy (or, in his case, “sticker boy”) both for Meiji Seika’s chocolates and for what could happen when a goggle-eyed cartoon child fell into the eager clutches of creative marketers. It was only a short step, Steinberg makes clear, from Astro Boy to Pokémon and beyond.
Steinberg traces the cultural genealogy that spawned Astro Boy to the transformations of Japanese media culture that followed—and forward to the even more profound developments in global capitalism supported by the circulation of characters like Doraemon, Hello Kitty, and Suzumiya Haruhi. He details how convergence was sparked by anime, with its astoundingly broad merchandising of images and its franchising across media and commodities. He also explains, for the first time, how the rise of anime cannot be understood properly—historically, economically, and culturally—without grasping the integral role that the media mix played from the start. Engaging with film, animation, and media studies, as well as analyses of consumer culture and theories of capitalism, Steinberg offers the first sustained study of the Japanese mode of convergence that informs global media practices to this day.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Introduction: Rethinking Convergence in Japan
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Convergence. As Henry Jenkins points out, the term first got its life within industry discourse, media studies, and popular culture as a designation for the promised convergence of all media into one black box. At some point in the 2000s, the term shifted from designating the fated collapse of distinction between hardware platforms—the idea that television, video ...
Part I. Anime Transformations: Tetsuwan Atomu
1. Limiting Movement, Inventing Anime
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Discussions of animation often begin with etymologies of the word itself. In this vein, Paul Wells presents the following conventional definition of the term animation in the opening section to his Understanding Animation: ...
2. Candies, Premiums, and Character Merchandising: The Meiji–Atomu Marketing Campaign
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The eleventh episode of the Tetsuwan Atomu anime, “The Time Machine,” is of some interest for thinking about the question of transmedia connectivity. Broadcast on March 12, 1963, this episode follows a boy’s pursuit of his father through time, each traveling in his own separate time machine. Atomu and his private detective friend, Higeoyaji, join the boy (unnamed in the anime) in his search ...
3. Material Communication and the Mass Media Toy
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In a prescient 1964 article, Yamakawa Hiroji, an employee in the “Planning Center” of the mammoth Japanese ad firm Dentsū, and a frequent contributor to the advertising journal Senden kaigi (Advertising Meeting), suggested an important term for thinking about the communicational dimension of things in the media mix age: mono komi, or “thing communication.” ...
Part II. Media Mixes and Character Consumption: Kadokawa Books
4. Media Mixes, Media Transformations
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Since the 1980s, the term media mix has been the most widely used word to describe the phenomenon of transmedia communication, specifically, the development of a particular media franchise across multiple media types, over a particular period of time. In a word, it is the Japanese term for what is known in North America as media convergence. ...
5. Character, World, Consumption
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In the previous chapter, I noted the profound differences that separate the phenomenon of what is now called the media mix from its terminological origins in marketing discourse. I also emphasized the similarities between the de facto media mix that crystallized around anime circa 1963 and the media mix that Kadokawa is now popularly .....
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Much of the initial form of this book was written at Brown University, where I can safely say that I had an extraordinary graduate experience. I thank my advisors, Mary Ann Doane and Philip Rosen, for their warm welcome and firm intellectual guidance as well as the other faculty of Modern Culture and Media, including Rey Chow, Wendy Chun, and Lynne Joyrich, for an education parallel to none. My colleagues and ...
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Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2012