As the world is slowly digging itself out of the COVID crisis, a return to normalcy is wished for by many, but far from possible. The Russian war against Ukraine, continuing strife in Sudan and emergencies in many other countries make it hard to catch one’s breath. This IJCS issue cannot do much about these continuing mega-crises, but what it can do is to introduce smaller projects whose interventions, despite all, aim at making the world a better place, if only by understanding it better.
In particular, this issue deliberates and showcases the ways different kinds of languages contribute to localised understandings of cultural materials and products. Some of these had originally been created for alternate audiences, but are now being (re-)appropriated by new and technology-enabled consumers. Others tell of the fight to retain one’s own language in the face of a dominant language (system) trying to eradicate it.
As the field of manga and anime continues to grow, reaching audiences in places far away from its country of origin, Japan, is slowly but surely becoming the norm. The first article, “‘Still Watching Cartoons?’ Infantilization of Young Anime Fans in India: A Critical Discourse Analysis” by Jasdeep Kaur Chandi and Kulveen Trehan, analyses the challenges and opportunities Anime face in India. These range from the infantilisation and invisibilisation of its prosumers to political interventions curbing its supply and access chains.
The second article, “Cultural Identity and Historical Nostalgia in Animated Film”, by Jae-Eun Oh, Yuet Kai Chan and Cedric van Eenoo, discusses a particular locally-produced animation film, the 2001 Hong Kong My Life as McDull, directed by Toe Yuen. It examines its local roots and appeal to nostalgia as it addresses issues of shared memory, local culture and sense of identity. It concludes that these effects were created by a specific kind of animated storytelling, making it a cause célèbre in Hong Kong.
Anastasiia Krutiakova also examines anime, and once again the Japanese kind. The focus of her “The Impact of Cultural Code on Communication Promotion of Japanese Animation in the USA” is the United States’ reception of the two most popular anime series in recent years, Attack on Titan and Demon Slayer, both of which were able to get into the record books due to their global reach. In her article, she illustrates the challenges the two series faced in relation to their origins and comes to the conclusion that while both of them were enormously successful, one of them did better than the other in audience comprehension. This success was arguably based on the better preparation of audiences via social media for the cultural particularities considered normal and well known in Japan, but not so in the USA. While this estrangement factor could have been overcome, and, indeed, could have been made a central plank of its marketing, this was not done, to the detriment of consumer satisfaction.
Staying with visual languages, but moving on to real-actor Hollywood films, Hajar Eddarif’s “The ‘Innocent’ Other: Hollywood’s Post 9/11 Muslim Child and Childhood” interrogates the ways in which Hollywood cinema articulates the exclusion of Muslim children from popular filmic discourses on childhood and how such exclusions negatively condition the cultural identity of such children. Eddarif shows how such films privilege and continue to mainstream white (US) children’s experiences and marginalise those of others.
Lastly, Robert Davis and Elvira Sanatullova-Allison’s ‘Language, Culture, and Indigeneity: Reflections on their Interplay’ round out the discussion of how languages and the way they are created, disseminated and received are never neutral, but, rather, find them always already within a certain dynamic ideological field. Their examples are taken from the linguistic life of indigenous populations in the Unites States and they approach their subject via the topics of language and self-preservation, nonviolent means to communal well-being, student narratives and agency, and the forward gaze of conceptions of “abode” and “sojourn”.
Please enjoy reading the issue!