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Adaptation in Japanese media mix franchising: Usagi Drop from page to screens

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Japanese media franchising is normally discussed in relation to long-running chains of serial transmedia production known in Japan as 'media mix'. I argue that this focus on the biggest of Japanese franchises is over-determining how we conceptualize the flows of adaptation in Japanese media culture. Therefore, in this article, I focus on a short-lived franchise based around Yumi Unita's manga Usagi Drop (literally, Bunny Drop, 2009‐11) in order to think about the media mix as a set of relational adaptation processes. In the space of just a few months in 2011, this manga about a young man adopting his grandfather's illegitimate daughter became the seemingly unlikely source of a transmedia franchise that included television animation and live action film. Focusing on such a short-lived cycle of production allows me to reconsider how Japanese franchise media texts relate to one another, and to decentre anime as the defacto core medium in Japanese franchising. Expanding the view of Japanese media mix adaptations, I consider how both internal and external factors can influence media franchising and adaptation practices in contemporary Japan. Retracing the production discourses around the creation of the Usagi Drop franchise therefore allows me to reconsider the concept of media mix as adaptation practice and process in Japan.

Keywords: Yumi Unita; anime; film; franchise; ikumen; manga; media mix; single fatherhood

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000110927967 University of East Anglia, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2019

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  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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