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Master Thesis

Le yuri comme élément narratif au sein de la culture Otaku

Abstract : Since Japan’s pop culture worldwide rising up at the beginning of the 2000s, the number of university students wishing to study it steadily grown, and so go the number of papers on the matter. Nonetheless, research itself in the West has, by all accounts, progressed very little if at all since then, as papers’ quality in Japan and in the West varies to an unbelievable extent. Thus, only specialized researched held in Japanese can take those topics on a higher level as it has stood until then. While research on the field reached a stalemate in the West, research regarding “Otaku culture” (オタク文化) in Japan did move fairly further in spite of steady popular opinion. This paper intents to look up at the field’s latest papers and essays, and discusses how it evolved discursively and culturally within the Japanese society since forty years, not forgetting the latest 20 years which are often set aside regarding most papers on this subject. With regard to this basis, it has been discussed here the particular case of “yuri” genre within the said “Otaku-culture”, a genre which could be mostly described as being a kind of story that tells tight relationship (or perhaps even love relationship) between two female characters in comics, cartoons and novels. It has often be confused with a Japanese counterpart to a LGBT-style lesbian narrative within popular culture, which happens not to be the case in most occasions. One could speak on this matter of an “apparent similarity” on the field of discourse, happening because of a lack of cultural understanding on the raison d’être of the genre within Japanese culture and how it is held and understood since its unveiling in the 90s, and further on the 2000s. I especially wish to point out the fact that emergence of the yuri genre in the 90s and take off of the Otaku culture since the 80s are inseparable incidents, and that yuri itself cannot be explained without discussing Otaku culture, the latter being in fact the condition of possibility for its existence. As many papers in the West regarding yuri and BL (its male counterpart) has been focused on studying them within the discourse field of gender studies, I take account that it results of discursive inducted misguidance because of apparent similarity, while, in fact, one must study the yuri genre not as an isolated genre, but as an extension of the Otaku culture, which can be understand only regarding its story and internal system of values, as the public happen to be mainly the same between products associated to the “Otaku culture” and consumers of the Yuri genre. Regarding this, the paper discusses in its first juncture the Japanese discourse regarding “Otaku culture”, its codes and its emergence in the Japanese society. It sticks as much as possible to the Japanese discourse on the subject, and holds up to most of the recognized Japanese writers in this field. It also uses Pierre Bourdieu’s idea of “(social) field [champ]” to explain the Otaku culture, and enacts it as a cultural field just like there is a “literature field” . It also criticizes Adorno beliefs regarding mass culture, and discusses that Otaku culture happens to be rather horizontal than vertical in its structure, with massive participation of consumers in the construction process. I happen to discuss also the “Cool Japan” diplomacy of Japan’s government, and how Otaku culture understood as subcultural process and Otaku culture understood as political inducted means must be distinguished. I In this regard refer to Miyadai Shinji’s account of Otakus (as social phenomenon and specific population within the Japanese society) being discursively “orientalized” in most papers, in the West but in Japan as well, which he calls “Otaku orientalism”. The second half of the paper discusses yuri genre as it emerges within the Otaku culture, as well as the Japanese discourse over it. I also discuss the BL genre which happens to be often put in parallel to the yuri genre, and demonstrate that superficial similarities set aside, both public and the genre’s narrative happen to be strongly dissimilar. I then discuss the recent evolution of the yuri genre, its extension inside and outside the Otaku cluster, and prospects on its future. I hope thus that, not only regarding studies on the Yuri genre, but also regarding studies on the “Otaku culture” and its field, this paper could be considered as substantial part of the progress on research in the West regarding those topics, especially for people who cannot read Japanese but would nonetheless need to read specialized papers on this matter. As Otaku culture knows limited extension in the West, one must remember that its spread within eastern Asia is important, influencing other Asian countries, and then influencing Japan back – and inasmuch, such a topic cannot be overlooked.
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Philémon Marcou. Le yuri comme élément narratif au sein de la culture Otaku. Littératures. 2019. ⟨dumas-02390500⟩

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