Friday, September 8

What if the lead character looks like me?

Girl fans of shoujo anime and their Web sites

In Rye, NY in the summer of 2003, I attended ShoujoCon, an anime convention (Shoujocon Chronicles, 2003). It was close to home, and being new to the world of anime, I did not realize that the conference was anything other than a general anime convention. However, I quickly learned that all anime does not revolve around robots, explosions, battles, and schoolgirls in short-skirted sailor outfits. I also discovered that the anime fan base includes many girls and young women. They were there to see shoujo anime ­ animation created by women for a female audience. The conference had three viewing rooms going about 16 hours a day as well as a variety of panels for fans to exchange knowledge and meet industry professionals. Attendees ranked their favorite bishonen or male character, exchanged Web site addresses, and talked about what Web sites were worth visiting. My experiences at the convention piqued my interest in two broad topics‹how girls and young women relate to shoujo anime with its strong female leads, and how girls participate in the online anime fan culture. Since the content of these shoujo series is different in many ways from other types of anime, and since girls and young women are not as active in creating Web sites as are boys and young men (Pastore, 2000), I wondered whether girl fans of shoujo were typical fans in terms of their online behavior. For this chapter I studied Web sites created by college-age or younger women about shoujo series since they seemed to make up the bulk of the audience I saw at the convention.1 The next section of the chapter describes two types of anime available to viewers in the United States. Informed by the work of Angela McRobbie, this chapter then considers how girls based discussions of boys and romance on shoujo anime characters and stories. Lastly, John Fiske's conception of a fan economy is used to examine the webpages made by girls who are fans of shoujo anime as examples of textual and enunciative productivity.

Full article is here.

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