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Fujoshi: Fantasy Play and Transgressive Intimacy among “Rotten Girls” in Contemporary Japan

Patrick W. Galbraith
Signs
Vol. 37, No. 1 (September 2011), pp. 219-240
DOI: 10.1086/660182
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/660182
Page Count: 22
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Fujoshi: Fantasy Play and Transgressive Intimacy among “Rotten Girls” in Contemporary Japan
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Abstract

AbstractThis article is a theoretical and ethnographic inquiry into intimate communication and friendship among young women in contemporary Japan. The group I am considering consumes, produces, and reproduces mainstream manga (Japanese comics) and anime (Japanese animation), similar to the phenomenon of fan fiction and fan art in the United States and Europe, with a focus on imagining unintended romance and relationships between male characters, much like slash fiction. Fans produce works not only for personal pleasure but also to share them, facilitate interaction, and bridge a shared imaginary. In Japan, as elsewhere, women account for the majority of this activity, but unique to Japan is the relative autonomy this group has achieved and the high visibility of their activities. The existence of overlapping spheres of virtual and physical fan activity on the present scale in Japan provides a unique opportunity to analyze emergent patterns of intimacy at a time when interactions with media and technology are playing an increasingly important role in shaping communication and friendship. My case study is a group of young women who identify as fujoshi, or “rotten girls.” This article examines how they produce, consume, and share fiction, as well as the discussions and relationships that these practices make possible across physical and virtual space. The major focus is on playful interactions with the text and with other fujoshi, which contributes to “getting out of hand” and exploring what I call “transgressive intimacy,” which is imagined between characters and between fujoshi themselves. I apply the theory of “neta communication” and develop an alternative, “moe communication,” to explain this phenomenon.

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