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Bridge builders, world makers: Transcultural Studio Ghibli fan crafting

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Whilst global hits such as Pok√©mon utilized what Marc Steinberg calls anime’s media mix, implementing a multiple-platform narrative world in an attempt to synergize/converge a franchise, what are we to do when one finds a dearth of official merchandise available to transnational audiences? What are the reasons or politics for such a decision that seems to run counter to a long sociocultural history of such media ecology? Equally as important, what do fans do when their championed fan objects offer a relatively restricted media palette? This article looks at how Studio Ghibli has, to a degree, negotiated and/or rejected the traditional ‘anime media mix’. This is not to say that Ghibli is void of media mixing; rather, via online communities, one has seen a growing presence of fan-crafts whereby audiences are making their own Ghibli objects. In doing so, these transcultural fan-made Ghibli objects extend fan ideologies linked to the studio, expanding on what Susan Napier terms ‘MiyazakiWorld’ (2006: 49, 2007: 193). Much like Miyazaki’s philosophy, this is not entirely rejecting industry, but offering creative alternatives. The fan-as-producer of Ghibli objects is doing so through convivial construction. Thus, this article offers new insights into global audience practices and affective meaning-making around Ghibli that goes beyond the films themselves.
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Keywords: craft; fandom; online; social media; transcultural; transnational

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Cardiff University

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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  • The East Asian Journal of Popular Culture is the first academic peer-reviewed journal for scholars, teachers, and students from around the world who have an active and passionate interest in the Popular Culture of East Asia. The journal is devoted to all aspects of popular culture in East Asia and the interplay between East Asia and the wider world. With the growth in popularity of Asian visual products in the Western world and the increasing strength of the Asian markets, this publication fulfills the need for an international journal that allows Western and Asian film, media, literary, music, fashion, digital media, television, art and cultural scholars alike to engage in discussion. In the last few decades there has been a huge rise in the interest in East Asian popular culture. The East Asian Journal of Popular Culture will be engaging directly with that trend. From film to music; art to translation and fashion to tourism, this journal will offer a forum where multidisciplinary work can come together in new and exciting ways.
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