Orientalism and Western Fans: A Look at Fandom Surrounding Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jeffrey Adam Garrison (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Craig Fischer

Abstract: Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism has been influential in literary studies, allowing new methods of insight into cross-cultural interaction. Said posits that the western idea of an eastern “Orient” is an illusion, created by and distinguishing western culture through contrast (Said 20-21). Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto is a popular manga and anime title with a large following in the United States. As a point of cultural connection between Japan and the US, Naruto serves as a locus around which we can observe the interaction between western readers and an eastern text. This thesis examines western fandom of anime and manga to see if those fans Orientalize, stereotyping in their perceptions of Japan. It specifically examines western fandom of the popular anime and manga, Naruto, and the attitudes that fans hold toward Japan. A textual analysis of Naruto is utilized to determine if it is self-Orientalist, pandering to an Orientalist audience. Following this, I examine fan forums to determine if fans of Naruto hold Orientalist views. Ultimately, I assert that Orientalism does exist within fan communities, but that it is a minority among a culture that largely resists Oriental tendencies. This thesis suggests the idea of the stereotypical (and stereotyping) fan as a misconception, the result of negative hierarchical perceptions in US popular culture as well as within fan communities themselves. I also gesture toward the increasing enmeshment of Japanese cultural products in the lives of Americans, a blurring of “foreign” and domestic intellectual consumption.

Additional Information

Garrison, J.A. (2013). Orientalism and Western Fans: A Look at Fandom Surrounding Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2013
Anime, Manga, Orientalism, Fandom, Naruto

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