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Mihara, Ryotaro (2020) 'Involution: a perspective for understanding the Japanese animation’s domestic business in a global context.' Japan Forum, 32 (1). pp. 102-125.

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This article proposes the concept of ‘involution’ as a perspective to understand the socioeconomic dynamics of the domestic business practices within the Japanese animation (anime) sector in relation to its overseas performance. There is a counterintuitive gap between the prevalent assumption that anime is globally popular and its weak overseas performance. Leaving the detail of anime's business aspects relatively unexamined, the literature on anime has particularly failed to address the ‘inward-looking’ feature of the business of the Japanese anime sector. Based on long-term fieldwork of the business players in the Japanese anime sector in Tokyo, this article suggests ‘involution’ as a key concept to fill this void. This concept, developed by anthropologist Clifford Geertz, refers to the process by which a group develops internally by sticking to existing modes of operation rather than by opening up to the outer world. This article depicts how we might understand the socioeconomic dynamics of the Japanese anime sector's mainstream domestic market centrist mode of operation in the context of involution. It also explores how the concept could catalyse us to envision the alternative future of anime, other than assuming anime's global popularity: the involuting Japanese anime sector might be allowing Euro-American and Chinese internet conglomerates to intervene and take over, turning the Japanese anime sector into one of their subcontractors from which they can exploit the sector's creativity.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: animation, anime, involution, creative industry, internet, Asia, China
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Finance & Management
ISSN: 1469932X
Copyright Statement: © 2018 BAJS. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Japan Forum on 08 March 2018, available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2018 16:11

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