Rise of the Otaku : investigating the anime fandom in South Africa.
This ethnographic research project is an empirical investigation into the nature of the anime subculture and the practices of its fans (popularly known as ‘otaku’ in Japanese culture) in South Africa. Subcultural theory was used to outline the key characteristics of a typical subculture. My work has drawn heavily from Paul Hodkinson’s (2002) interesting attempt to combine the theoretical strengths of both ‘traditional’ subcultural theories and their post-modern critiques. Resisting the post-modern tendency to see subcultures as ephemeral and fluid, Hodkinson outlines four key elements that define a grouping of people as having sub-cultural substance: autonomy, identity, consistent distinctiveness and commitment. In order to introduce, explore, and investigate the practices of the anime fandom in South Africa, I have made extensive use of these four subcultural characteristics. Henry Jenkins and John Fiske’s seminal work on fandom and fan studies will be useful in this paper as I shall be attempting to understand how and why fans in South Africa enjoy and relate to anime. While utilising the testimonies of otaku, this thesis is also self-reflexive, and places my fandom within the context of cultural studies research, in order to provide a more indepth investigation.