Transmedia Narrative: Japanese Popular Culture

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Image courtesy of Hammonia

Transmedia narrative involves the convergence of multiple platforms, which each carry its specific function, to create one same pervasive storyline. (Jenkins 2007) It is an interesting way of storytelling, as it generates different perspectives and a whole new experience for audiences.

Speaking of transmedia storytelling, it has been a common practice for Japanese franchises, which include both production and distribution. (Brienza 2016) Before the resonance of digital media, Japan’s media industries usually derive a variety of extensions only after popularizing a specific dominant intellectual property/content. (Dr Joo, Dr Denison & Dr Furukawa n.d., pp7) In contrast, today’s practice mainly focuses on a dispersion diagram where the intellectual property/content is distributed across all channels at the same time, “and in accordance with a deliberate marketing strategy that is planned before production begins.” (Dr Joo, Dr Denison & Dr Furukawa n.d., p7) According to Dr Joo, Dr Denison & Dr Furukawa (n.d., p2), among the different channels produced namely filmmaking, television series, video gaming, anime or merchandising; manga often remains as the most prominent adaptation source.

Japanese popular culture also forms transcultural fandom, attracting audiences from all over the world. (Brienza 2016) There were even remakes into real-live action deployed in different countries such as Boys Over Flowers (Korea & Taiwan), Old Boy (Korea), Dragonball Evolution (USA), Initial D (Taiwan), etc. Some managed to transform the original Japanese material into a legendary piece like Old Boy, which was highly praised for its cinematic filmmaking. However, there were also some that turn out to be disastrous such as Dragonball Evolution or Speed Racer.

Maybe due to remake film failures in Hollywood; Japan’s media cultural origins are not often appreciated. (Dr Joo, Dr Denison & Dr Furukawa n.d., p39)  As growth of technology is widely dispersed everywhere, the competition in market is also becoming highly intensive while audiences’ attention is increasingly spread. Thus progressing along with technology, a dynamic shift in new media environment by Japan’s franchises is necessary to preserve this popular culture continuously.

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