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The "characterization" of Japan: From Merchandising to Identity

Ruobin Han defended her thesis on 21 March 2017

Ruobin Han
21 March 2017
Leiden Repository

The study examines the merchandising and consumption practices that have developed around characters (such as those in manga and anime) in Japan. It also explores the global impact of Japanese characters (by specifically examining the case of China). Character merchandising, as a mechanism that transforms characters into commodities, caused the character commodity boom in Japan. This led to characters being widely consumed by consumers while securing a role for them in socio-cultural phenomena. Character consumption provides a means for consumers to pursue the expression of their individuality and sensibility, which not only deepens the inner connection between them and characters, but also closely ties characters to their self-identity. Furthermore, consumers use characters to express their self-identity, which is reflected in the display or cosplay of their bodies. This is a form of personal presentation, but it is also a requirement of society that characters are put at the centre of the social stage and play an active role in social as well as international communication. In this sense, characters, as a form of discourse, reflect, constitute, and represent contemporary Japan.

Supervisor: prof. K.J. Cwiertka.

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