Over at Neojaponisme W. D. Marx has begun a systematic, economic overview of Japan of the sort that I have been urging people to do for years. While he surely didn’t hear the idea from me, he does a credible job of examining the links between the flow or absence of money and the resultant cultural void.
I really wish we could see some data on the effects of international reactions to Japanese culture. For example, China and Korea, long customers to Japanese anime and manga, have repeatedly exhorted their own artists to match or exceed Japanese artists. How much money went into that? Was it successful in drawing off some of the demand? Can we say this sort of thing actually affected the Japanese industry significantly? In short, was it money well spent?
When we discuss the fact that sales in mens’ suits fell since 1997, does that mean there are fewer jobs, or just fewer white-collar jobs? If the latter, what parallels can we draw with the US, where after 9/11 a lot of white collar jobs were replaced with blue collar jobs? How well does that correlate with spending money?
Consumers were once engaged with pop culture most actively through the act of consumption — buying a CD, book, or video game — but not only have they ceased buying goods, they are increasingly not even participating passively when media is virtually free, like in the case of TV.
I wonder: is this a long-term strategic flaw? Is it unique to the culture, or is it something that happens every time there is an economic depression and consumers have been taught to equate consumption with participation?
Anyone with a computer may publicly speculate on anime and society, but for doing research and raising all these important questions, I salute Neojaponisme.