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Fan Influence: The English-Speaking Anime and Manga Speech Community's Relationship With the Japanese Language and Gender Roles
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Beginning in the 1960s, an effort was made to import and translate anime and manga (animation and graphic novels from Japan) to a young English-speaking audience. Since then, the style of translation—which originally involved heavy edits to conform to American standards—has changed to allow the Japanese language and culture present in anime and manga to be viewed by a wider audience. In this presentation, the English-speaking anime and manga fandom will be viewed through the lens of fandom as a speech community, with an analysis of shared language and shared knowledge. A preference to watching anime in the original Japanese language as opposed to an English overdub is the expected norm of the community and has become the basis of heated debates over the markers of real fans. I examine the language ideologies circulating in the community, not only surrounding the ‘sub vs dub’ debate, but also around the gender and the genres of shoujo and shonen. This research demonstrates fans’ resistance to conformity in abiding to the gendered notions of genres and pushing back against the belittling of female centered and created media. The fandom specific terms of otaku and weeaboo, which are occasionally viewed as interchangeable, will be discussed alongside ideologies that shape the norms of Japanese language usage in this community. This research indicates that the reproduction of the Japanese words by English-speaking fans has diminished in usage but not in comprehension which is still used as a marker of belonging within the speech community. As a result, the term otaku, a borrowing from a Japanese term, has lessened in use.