A.B. Thesis

Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, Bryn Mawr College, 2004

American Otaku:
An Ethnographic Study of the Anime and Manga Fandom within the Bi-College Community


College age fans of Japanese animation (anime) and comic books (manga), tend to be overlooked rather than just the media themselves.  This thesis is an attempt to take a new look at an ignored demographic and determine what social roles anime and manga have in the Bi-College community.  This work will cover students’ views on what makes an anime or manga worthwhile, whether there are significant gender differences when it comes to preferences of what to read or watch, and the role different forms of community have in piquing and developing one’s interest.  This thesis will also discuss sexual and gender roles in the two media, and the issue of American censorship.  Lastly it will touch on the shifting awareness of anime and manga among the general American public, and ways in which that awareness is being increased.  Today anime and manga are still mostly fringe interests aside from the heavily modified shows played on TV.  This research found that when college students move past the “Americanized” anime and manga to find the original material, it simply increases their interest in the media.  This phenomenon of students being more intrigued by the unaltered forms is an interesting piece of social commentary, that brings light to the fact that students may help to develop an increasing tolerance in this country for other cultures, as well as differences within our own culture. The devoted fans of anime and manga are growing up but not growing out of their interests in the media. Thus in order to hold onto their place in the national and global entertainment markets, the American distribution of these media will have to grow with them.