Anime in the UK: the history, cultural context, and evolution of UK anime fandom

Holmes, L.M (2022) Anime in the UK: the history, cultural context, and evolution of UK anime fandom. M.Phil thesis, Bath Spa University.

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Organised anime fandom in the UK is relatively young, having originated in the early ’90s following the UK’s first recorded anime screening programme at a convention (McCarthy, 2018a) and, shortly thereafter, the success of Ōtomo Katsuhiro’s Akira (1988) and the launch of Manga Video. However, while it is tempting to take this as the absolute genesis of UK anime fandom, to do so is to decontextualise both anime and anime fandom in the UK – neither occurred in isolation, nor did either spring up overnight. In this thesis I examine the history and dynamics of anime fans and fandom in the UK, but rather than beginning with this obvious starting point, I work through the pre-history of fandom, identifying the localised, “culturally odourless” (Iwabuchi, 1998) titles screened on television or in the cinema that served to catch the attention of young people who would become fans. But more than that, I seek to contextualise anime fandom – and the ways in which the medium of anime was perceived by the British press and public – in terms of Anglo-Japanese diplomacy and the ways that the British have historically responded to Japanese art and culture since the late nineteenth century. I also explore the main sites of change in anime fandom – the Video Nasties panic of the ’90s, the mass popularity of Pokémon (1997-Present), the Academy Awards success of Spirited Away (2001), and the rise of the Internet – and, inspired by Azuma Hiroki (2001), I survey current UK anime fans to identify where generational lines can be drawn, how these generations differ, and what they have in common. Finally, I suggest possibilities for extended and intersectional study of UK anime fans and speculate about what the future may hold for anime fandom… and whether anime has succeeded in truly achieving mainstream status.

Item Type: Thesis (M.Phil)
Keywords: anime, fandom, internet, British press, Japanese culture, media criticism, Pokémon, Ōtomo Katsuhiro, Hayao Miyazaki, survey, qualitative research, 1990s, 21st century
Divisions: Bath School of Art, Film and Media
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Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2022 14:07
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 13:38
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