2019 | 29 | Themenheft

Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 7 of 7
  • Article
    Characters of the Future. Machine Learning, Data, and Personality
    Lamerichs, Nicolle (2019)
    Fictional characters are changing from passive entities into active learners. New technologies are curating how characters speak, what they know, and what they can learn. Disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and big data are changing what characters are, how they behave, and what media and texts they belong to. The ownership and authorship of char-acters is shifting from the professional creative industries to fans themselves. In this study, I analyze new tendencies and trends of how characters are in-creasingly based on new technologies such as chatbots, intelligent personal assistants, and holograms. I close-read different characters, such as the per-sonal assistant Azuma Hikari and the hologram Hatsune Miku. An important theme that emerges in the discourses and narratives surrounding these char-acters is the meaning of artificial life and death. I analyze this recurring topic in-depth and conclude by theorizing the possible future of characters. Overall, I will argue that characters should not be read as passive entities authored by one specific instance anymore. Increasingly, characters are crowdsourced, highly technological-based, and self-learning. The future of characters, I argue, is therefore strongly mediated and interactive. New technologies are going to make us see characters in continuously new lights as well. In media studies, characters might best be understood as highly networked, non-human agents.
  • Article
    Deviating Voice. Representation of Female Characters and Feminist Readings in 1990s Anime
    Ishida, Minori (2019)
    In the 1990s, Japanese anime sophisticated both their ›visual database‹ and their ›voice database‹ for their character design. These two ›databases‹ usually cooperate in a complementary manner in order to construct characters for an audio-visual medium. In the following article, however, I am going to point out that there are always possibilities of deviation, because, fundamentally, the visual appearance and the voice of the character are created independently. This has, in fact, opened up the possibility to introduce a new style of charac-ters like Haruka Tenou, one of the most popular characters in the Sailor Moon series (1992–1997). According to Azuma Hiroki, moe (affective responses) to-ward characters had drastically altered the reception of anime in the 1990s, preparing the way for the so-called ›kyara-moe‹. Within otaku (fan) cultures, however, another kind of reception took place, which was inspired by female, queer characters, such as Haruka or her successors. Feminist audiences who experienced moe toward these characters interpreted them enthusiastically: with regard to the gender and the sexuality of the protagonists, they created their own narratives.
  • Article
    In Search of Doom. Tracking a Wandering Character Through Data
    Hibbett, Mark (2019)
    This paper will describe the process of generating a corpus of comics for an examination of the transmedial development of the character Doctor Doom during the period known as ›The Marvel Age‹. It will briefly define what ›The Marvel Age‹ means in these terms, and describe the rationale for choosing which items should be included in the corpus. It will then go into some detail about the use of online comics databases, notably The Grand Comics Data-base, and describe the many difficulties inherent in the use of a dataset that has been collaboratively generated over a long period of time without clear editorial guidance, and suggest data-cleaning methods by which these issues can be mitigated. Finally, it will discuss how this corpus will be used in future to analyse the progress of Doctor Doom’s characterisation through this period.
  • Article
    Recontextualizing Characters. Media Convergence and Pre-/Meta-Narrative Character Circulation
    Wilde, Lukas R. A. (2019)
    This introduction to the topic of character recontextualization sets out to ad-dress a variety of character products that cannot be adequately described as ›narrative‹: Coffee mugs, clothes, office supplies, and other material objects. Fictitious entities such as Hello Kitty or Hatsune Miku have given rise to a veri-table wave of literature in Japanese studies outlining a ›pre-narrative character theory‹. Characters without stories, based entirely on highly affective iconogra-phies, often function as hubs, interfaces, or intersections for diverging ›games of make-believe‹ that are in turn often forms of an aesthetic, medial, social, and especially diegetic recontextualization. Consequently, every pre-narrative char-acter could also be addressed as a decontextualized, trans-fictional, trans-world, or »meta-narrative nodal point« (AZUMA). Often, these recontextualiza-tions take place within the collaborative networks of participatory culture, high-lighting the decontextualized character state as central to what is known as ›media convergence‹ or ›media mix‹. I will situate these discussions within the field of international character theory, arguing that a systematic divide runs through existing literature on how to deal with decontextualized, trans-fic-tional, trans-world entities. My article closes with some indications on what a discourse often seen as specific for Japanese studies, might contribute on a variety of international phenomena and perspectives.
  • Article
    The Element Factor. The Concept of ›Character‹ as a Unifying Perspective for the Akihabara Cultural Domain
    Bruno, Luca (2019)
    This paper presents a developing perspective on characters within Japanese visual novel games and their connections to their host cultural domain of Aki-habara. The cultural domain comprising Akihabara and its connected fan in-dustries (cf. SUAN 2017: 64) have been alternatively described as a ›database‹ for a ›grand non-narrative‹ (cf. AZUMA 2009: 33–34), as a ›fantasy-scape‹ (cf. RUH 2014: 171), or as an ›imagination-scape‹ (cf. KACSUK 2016: 277). These view-points are concord in their vision of the Akihabara cultural domain as being in a continuous flux, lacking any fixed perspective or origin. This paper will pro-pose characters as the unified perspective of the Akihabara cultural domain. While their design elements are not static and subjected to conventional re-performances (cf. SUAN 2017), ›characters‹ themselves, as hierarchical sets of information, remain recognizable and render their host media as belonging to Akihabara. This activates expectations (as well as related rules and procedures) associated with the domain, which in turn require additional conventional re-performances. Conceptualizing ›characters‹ and their associated conventions as a peculiar type of an intersubjective communicative construct (cf. THON 2016: 54), the paper argues that characters presented in visual novel games are rep-resentative for the wider tendency of Akihabara characters to exist prior to all media and narratives. The re-performance of conventions precedes media specificities, narrative peculiarities, or subjective reception.
  • Article
    »It’s true, all of it!«. Canonicity Management and Character Identity in STAR WARS
    Kunz, Tobias (2019)
    Taking as its object of study the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn from the STAR WARS franchise, this article examines how character identity is managed in narrative transmedial franchises. Focusing on the notion of ›canonicity‹, it suggests a way of conceptualizing how hierarchical systems of continuity can affect the mental modelling of characters. Furthermore, it discusses what strat-egies are employed—both textually and paratextually—to maintain a sense of character identity in the face of a reboot like the one undergone by STAR WARS in 2014.