The WUG Life Chose Me – P Culture: Definitions and Scope

As mentioned earlier, at Sakura-Con there was a P Culture panel about IM@S. After said panel I thought about exactly what this really means. What makes a Producer? What is an idol? Should I do an Otakon panel?

I think there’s a lot going on here, rich enough to definitely do all of that. But before I run headlong into it, some definitions are in order.

As you might know, P-culture really did start with IM@S, even if people were doing similar things well before then. In that sense, in post-otaku boom Japan there really is nothing left meaningful to define by the term otaku besides by their sub-niches. You have people who like mecha anime, for example. Or people really into waifus and moe crap. Or the 2.5D sei-buta-idol types. Or the plain variety of idol otaku. Or military. Or trains. Or BL. Or Yuri. You get the idea. These are not representative but elements to that otaku database where people can subscribe to various different things, and they do mix, kind of like a RSS feed of a set of RSS feeds.

Which just reminds me that Google Reader Shared Item is the best representation of the otaku concept. Anyway, RIP.

In that sense I would define P culture as a specific group of “feeds” that are bundled together. That’s what’s novel about P culture. That, and within this overlap, in the sense that many of us subscribe to this set of not-that-well-defined ideas, we find a sense of identity/unity common to these kind of identity affiliations (like, I dunno, gothloli and kogals). Or in the US, “anime fans” and cosplayers.

So more specifically, I mean:

  • Idol/entertainer culture, maybe specifically anison culture and wota culture
  • 2D otaku culture “in general”

Which, if you know what being a P means, has nothing to do with what being a P means–basically you are a fan of the IM@S games. And you can be a fan of the game (and now, anime) and have nothing to do with P culture. It’s kind of like being fans of old(er) school gaming, crunching things out on a NDS or X360, than on a mobile device grinding up some Million Stars. There’s already a pretty big gulf in terms of what being an IM@S fan really means, how that fandom manifests, and if it even makes sense for all of us to hang out together.

Which is also different than what being a P means, in the vocaloid scene, even if that nomenclature is not so different. Like what a Nicom@sP has to go through versus just some dude who likes the anime. Maybe this is why we’re so hot on danketsu in IM@S.

Perhaps it’s a lot more interesting to see how diverse this fandom is, and how the 2.5D fan category really exploded in the post-AKB48 era.

Ren is Yyo's buddy eh

To those ends, does it make more sense to look at Ps from a deductive way? Let’s profile a few people and see what they like, why they are Ps. Ethnography, or whatever. I wonder if there are some Japanese-language data out there…

Anyway. I think the approach to look at, present or even enjoy P culture is to do it on a more personal level. If you live like an otaku of some sort, it’s just “yet another vertical” of sorts. There are things you do, modern-day rituals, that facilitate the process. And then there are other things you do that’s just for the heck of it. Like buying flowers.

Why do we buy flowers, other than to make the concert venue smell good?

Why do we make business cards, besides that it’s useful to follow up with people online afterwards?

If invariably expression and identity are intertwined in these kind of instances, what does P culture say about us?

Is The World All One?

ARISE my friends

In reflection, the Anime Convention Panel format is not the best way to dive into those kind of details and ask those kinds of questions. Maybe you want to present those ideas differently. And we’ll have to go back to square one in a way: why a con panel? It’s practical because it’s like an offkai, and you can kind of offkai at a con using con time and con resources. But you also want to do more than just that, for the benefit of the random con-goer who may wander into your panel. More importantly because P culture is not a well-defined thing, and also because if we just run with IM@S, it’s still a very loosely-defined group.

In my opinion–and let’s be very clear that there are like a hundred different ways to do this, many that are better than mine–the simpliest way is to pitch it like a pure fan panel. In that sense, we concede that P culture is a specific type of subcultural vertical and one that can be categorized along side “Ask Hetalia” or “Anime Parliament” or whatever. It’s easy to plug in a couple hooks to latch on con culture, which is its own subcultural vertical.

So, yeah, who would go to a IM@S vs. LL vs. WUG vs. Miku panel at Otakon? Because I would totally run it.

Birds of a feather

More seriously, it would be about P culture. It’ll be a panel that allow fans to interact and take advantage the offkai nature. It will also give me an opportunity to find some Live Lovers who are also Love Livers so I can get that side of the story, because other than Maki/Pile, Umi/Mimorin, Eri/Nanjo and Honoka/Emitsun, I don’t really know them. And I’m not sure if I want to; it’s almost like I know the seiyuu better than the anime characters. Which is to say, at least I know all the WUG by name and kind of by face already!

I have until the end of April to do a first pass submission with Otakon, and I always dread doing a panel there because that con tend to schedule like a madhouse in terms of conflicts. Well, worse comes to worse I can back out.

5 Responses to “The WUG Life Chose Me – P Culture: Definitions and Scope”

  • Author

    I ran a panel once at a local con and the penalty for now-show was a lifetime ban. I would not risk it at AX or Otakon under such conditions. What if my airplane springs an fuel leak on the morning of the con? Those Saf-Air valves are not very reliable (which is why I replaced one of mine with a Curtis valve, but the point is more general).

    • omo

      Banning no-shows is reasonable. Because these day and age you can always call someone and tell them you can’t make it. If you have an emergency situation they are pretty forgiving as long as you give them a head’s up somehow.

      I don’t no-show my panels. Options to work it out with the panel ops folks is always available, there are usually alternatives/backup panels that can slot in place (although maybe not last minute). For me, Otakon is a con where I’ve been to it enough times to get how scheduling works so I can spot issues early on in the process and work it out, I would hope.

      It doesn’t stop all conflicts, but the last time I was on an Otakon panel I didn’t have to miss out on anything, which is pretty nice.

  • DiGiKerot

    The thing with iM@S culture at this point is that it’s escalated to the point where there isn’t really a specific single thing which can be classified as “iM@S Culture” anymore – it’s really four or five separate fandoms which whereby the hardest of core overlap through most if not all of them.

    I mean, there’s the fandom for the games, where that is the only real interface they have into the franchise (and even there, the “core” game series and the mobage are very much their own things at this point). There’s the people who only really identify the characters through fan works (or maybe aniM@S, though I think there’s a contingent who follow iM@S without particularly being into any of the official core works). There’s a fandom specific to the music. There’s also the folks who are really into iM@S more as a group of real-life personalities behind the microphone, completely divorced from the characters they play.

    And, obviously, there’s the all important Xenoglossia fandom.

    Digression aside, I’d certainly be interested in attending such a panel. Aside from the obvious cartoon idol content, I’d be interested in gleaning some knowledge in that which takes the 2.5D fandom beyond the mere two dimensions – the real-life idol fandom that you guys seem really into has kind of completely passed me by a bit (I kind of struggle to remember the names of a lot of the VAs beyond the obvious, if I were to be completely honest).

    FWIW, personally, I’m super into the (core) games, aniM@S and the music, but I don’t so much follow what is going on in the fan communities or in the event space. Ditto most the other 2.5D idol fandoms, for that matter – Miku, as a thing which is almost entirely a fan-culture, only really exists to me as the occasional Project Diva game. I feel I’m probably missing out a lot with Love Live given how well integrated that property is feeling at times of late – the anime certainly rewards wider franchise knowledge in a certain offhanded self-referential way – but I’ve probably rambled on for long enough at this point.

    (Also Aikatsu ojiisans www)

    Also, you’ve reminded me that I need to do business cards before the con season!

    • omo

      You make some pretty good points. I think the split of the game base is worth talking about but when I approach IM@S (as the most difficult example) it is more holistic. It might be a mobage you play versus Shiny TV or IM@S2, whatever, to me that’s like being a HarukaP versus being a EriP, in the end it’s just different flavors of the same thing.

      The bigger gap is those people who only play games, and those people who never play the games. It’s like the stereotypical Touhou scenester. I think to that end, there are enough other connections, like through the music or live stuff/seiota things, to make it work.

      I don’t know anyone into IM@S just for the music. That’s like you can be into Kyary Pamyu Pamyu or Perfume but only for the music…? Makes no sense to me.

      But yeah, sure, they are separate parts of the fandom and whatever, some fans have no overlaps with others, but that’s why P culture is worth talking and thinking about.

      I wonder if anything from the academic side of things can guide it, like some study on how commercial-owned culture shape fandom or whatever.

    • omo

      You should be doing your business cards like, NOW.

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