The collector’s edition of Final Fantasy XIV was released last week, and the launch went more smoothly than many players and pundits had anticipated. Tonight, during the evening gaming session, we will take our first steps in this new virtual world.
As you know, the Final Fantasy franchise is thoroughly grounded in Japanese popular culture. The controversy over the designers’ recent decision to refer to chocobos with kanji rather than katakana characters is the most recent example of the close links between Final Fantasy and Japanese cultural identity. But this game is just one of many strands that make up the rich fabric of contemporary Japanese popular culture.
In your next blog posting, due no later than 11:59 on Monday, October 4th, your task is to analyze a contemporary facet of Japanese popular culture. There are just a few wrinkles. Certain topics such as Japanese game shows, manga as a genre, and anime as a genre are completely off the table, and you should be sure to pick a cultural product that is genuinely new to you. (For those of you who are manga fans, this means that you should branch out entirely in a different direction.) Also, before beginning to write about this product, you need to “call it” by articulating your choice on the class e-mail thread. If someone has already called the same topic, you will need to choose a different one.
Your blog posting should be approximately four or five paragraphs long. In this posting, you should describe the cultural product under consideration and reflect on its role in the broader Japanese cultural landscape. Explain the path you took to discover this product, and include some specific examples of its manifestations (e.g. hyperlinks and screen shots) You should also make comparison to similar cultural phenomena in the United States — if analogous phenomena exist. When analyzing the cultural product, be alert to the different meanings associated with common signifiers. For example, a Mohawk and punk rock fashion might be associated with entirely different connotations in Japan than in the United States. Last but not least, step back and make connections between your analysis and broader themes of cross-cultural communication that have emerged in this class throughout the semester.