Year in Review 2013: The New Age of Media Literacy, the Otaku Newtype

Makoto Kikuchi is always nice

Since I started “blogging fer reals” or whatever that means, I’ve been writing and more importantly, reading, what other people blog about surrounding the same interest topics. What I find is that it’s almost one to one in terms of what I find an interesting read to what the writer has to do in terms of their media literacy powers. It’s kind of interesting in that yes, some people who engage anime blogging this way do have academic experience in the humanities, but it is easier to see when the writer doesn’t have a background in that.

But no matter who you are, the importance of being able to really bite into media you consume and pull it apart for what it is, and more importantly seeing how it impacts the way you look at the world, is super important. I was talking with a friend about Lessig’s free culture since he wasn’t sure what “Copyleft” meant. In truth it is the legal illustration of the way human culture has evolved from folk and oral to mass commercialism. If we think of copyright law as the set of rules that governs commercial activity of entities that engages in trading human culture beyond the folk and oral traditions that accompanied us since the beginning of history, it is easy to grasp why the free culture movement is important–because almost everything written down that is read by someone growing up today comes from some form of mass media. This stuff, culture, is the substance that defines  us as a group, as human beings, and even as individuals. So we really owe it to ourselves to know what we’re consuming today.

But that is one realization far, far most people do not have.

If we assume that an anime otaku watches a lot of anime (which is a bold assumption to make in America, to say the least), then I think media literacy is a prerequisite of being one? Understanding tropes is like, 101 level stuff. It goes so much deeper, so much more than that. And it feels like a lot of the time I enjoy some crap-tier anime BECAUSE it is so interesting once you break it down into pieces. Like this year’s Oreshura and Oregairu. Or the classic Genshiken Second Season. Girls und Panzer and Arpeggio. Outbreak Company. Log Horizon. Love Lab, even. A lot of these shows are fun to watch on the surface, sure, but a lot of them aren’t either. But both types are enjoyable to me because they’re built on frameworks I can parse well.

It’s like the one core thing that makes watching post-modern media content enjoyable. It’s that beacon that shines in the darkness that is the sea of this unfiltered, unadulterated deluge of otaku crap.

At the same time, though, it’s weird reading into why people would want their Kuroyukihime uncensored and castoff-able. It’s already pretty much naked. Poor girl. I mean, like, if you can resign yourself as some lolicon-moe-sick kimoi otaku, the least you can do is to max your sub-class and gain something useful. Media literacy is one of these things. If you want to compare/contrast Kill la Kill with Utena, rest assured you won’t look any more stupid than any of these guys talking about how to get things more naked.

Year in Review 2013 Index:

4 Responses to “Year in Review 2013: The New Age of Media Literacy, the Otaku Newtype”

  • TheBigN

    Do you feel like analyzing shows in this way makes us more critical/cynical about their reasons for existing?

    • omo

      I have two answers to this questions. They are long enough for a post all by itself.

      The short of it is YES if you are pessimistic, if you lack perspective, or if there is actually some pervasive problem about that particular issue. Most people who blog anime don’t have the big picture and low-down perspective, they only write about what they know as a member of the audience, so I’m inclined to think people are cynical because of this reason.

      But once you get to know more about both the business end of it and the point of view from the people working in the business, it’s a different perspective and angle and it adds a lot of human elements to it. You learn the reasons behind certain things, and it’s not always a negative sort of deal, or cynical or purely profit driven. If you watch a lot of show (like, a lot a lot), you also get an apperciation of what accounts not just “norm” but also where and how shows do better than others. It’s these things that, I think, counteracts cynicism.

  • DarkFireBlade25

    Could you give a few examples of other blogs that have high media literacy powers? I rather enjoy reading blogs like yours.

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