Beyond the Label of Commerciality: Approaching Narrative Complexity in Contemporary Light Novels, Anime and Gēmu

Antonio Loriguillo-López (Universitat Jaume I (Spain))
Dolores Martínez (SOAS)
Shiro Yoshioka (University of Newcastle)
Media Studies
I&D, Piso 4, Multiusos 2
Start time:
1 September, 2017 at 16:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Regarded as highly commercial art forms by their belonging to the production committee based media mix, storytelling in anime and gēmu has generally been overlooked as formulaic. We present a multidisciplinary overview of complex storytelling within the prolific entertainment industries of Japan

Long abstract:

This panel focuses on the narrative complexity in contemporary Japanese commercial light novels, animation and video games. Regarded as highly commercialised forms of mass art by their belonging to the production committee (seisaku iinkai) based media mix, the storytelling devices at play in these products have been overlooked by some scholars as formulaic. The introduction of digital tools in the production routines of commercial Japanese industry has helped to reach a new peak of high-volume production of new anime and video game titles and, within it, a growing sample that challenges the stereotypical light novel/anime/gēmu experience by defying the conventional storytelling in the fashion of postclassical storytelling. This global trend —developed within commercial media since the 1990s encompasses puzzle films such as Memento (C. Nolan, 2000), complex TV dramas such as Lost (ABC, 2004-2010), complex ludofictions such as the Silent Hill franchise and the refinement of Young Adult SF fiction— demands new approaches towards the study of light novels, anime and gēmu. Through different disciplinary perspectives and combining different research methodologies the panellists will address key questions to the scholarly study of popular titles such as the adult-oriented gēmu Catherine (Atlus, 2011), the hard SF light novel All You Need Is Kill (Sakurazaka Hiroshi & Yoshitoshi Abe, 2004) or the anime adaptation of the visual novel Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (C. Kon, Studio Deen, 2006) as complex audiovisual texts, a necessary task in order to think how can we interpret the perceived rise of complex narration in commercial audiovisual productions. We will inquiry different factors that may enlighten this industrial, commercial, consumer and cultural evolution. For instance, whether the increasing experimentation is a concession appealing to a more demanding otaku audience guaranteed through niche markets —especially profitable in the vast spectrum of genres in Japanese entertainment industry— or, in the case of anime, if its engagements complexity should be seen as a new episode of mediaphobic reaction from film and television mainstream producers under the threat of interactivity and video games.