Yesterday I finished up the (free, online) course “An Introduction To Japanese Subcultures“. The course offers a perspective from a cultural criticism viewpoint, formulated by four instructors from a Japanese university who themselves partake in certain subcultures. (For instance, in the third week, the instructor is dressed in a uniform from the original Gundam series and stands in front of the life-size Gundam statue in front of Diver City in Odaiba, Tokyo.)
As you know, we consume industrial amounts of anime, and of course we know quite a bit about ‘adjacent’ fields like manga and idols. So doing this course was really interesting, for two reasons. The first reason is that I never learned the vocabulary and structures of cultural criticism, and seeing it applied to something I know was an eye-opener. The way the instructors introduced and reasoned about the subjects was a totally new experience for me. I could separate the method and vocabulary a bit from the subject matter (because I know a bit about that), which told me some things about how these kinds of criticisms are structured and conducted.
The second is that it is extremely interesting to see how the themes we encounter often are actually inter-related and what they say about Japan as a culture and the subculture that birthed those themes. For instance, reading a Freudian perspective on giant robot anime (a genre that is near and dear to my heart) was really fun and gave me a better appreciation of the depth of the themes and genres.
In other words, a lot of fun. I didn’t engage with the other participants through the discussion boards as much as I did with the previous course I did on there, but I’m quite fine with that. I didn’t feel like being a sweaty try-hard for this course — perhaps because I am wary of engaging with other weebs.