In Garcia Canclini’s “Identities as a Multimedia Spectacle”, he talks about how the world has evolved into a multi-faceted global community, especially among culture; he says “Nations become multidetermined scenarios where diverse cultural systems intersect and interpenetrate (…)  Identity today (…) is polygot, multiethnic, migrant, made from elements that cut across various cultures.” (91) Both angieejlee and jkw306 talked about this in their blog posts, mostly in the context of misinterpretation and the losses that countries experience when items are de- and reterritorialized across countries’ borders, often with the emphasis on the loss that occurs between the exchange. I would like to talk about something similar, but more to the point of why things are lost.

This brings me back to a small conversation we had in class about the dubbing and sharing of television shows across the world, namely Japanese animation as a good example. Often, when an anime is brought over to the states, the script is ‘localized’ for the understanding of the new audience to preserve cultural equivalents. Often this is a subject of strife between fans on both sides of the coin; Japanese fans will feel like Americans are not getting the true understanding of the media, while American fans will feel as if they are being babied by the companies for not understanding the references. While these things can change the media slightly, they are often not to harm either the story or the fanbase, but to stop cultural mishaps.

Recently, there has been a fuss over a Japanese game getting localized due to some of its sensitive nature; the game, “Dangan Ronpa”, follows the lives of a class of Japanese high school students brought to a boarding school for exceptional talents, only to be locked in and forced to kill each other to escape. Each character is the best in their field at a young age, but many of them have very uniquely Japanese talents; for example, one is a “Super High School Level Gang Leader”, and another is a “Super High School Level Doujinshi Author”.  In Japan, these titles are culturally relevant and need not be explained, but in America, we have many different associations made with gang leaders and doujinshi authors that Japan doesn’t. These perceptions, and often cultural stigmas, lead to a misunderstanding of the work. The biggest debate so far has been going on with a character who, because of repeated bullying in the past, reveals they are crossdressing and pretending to be a girl in order to be able to use the ‘weaker’ gender role to express themselves.

In America, this idea is hard to grasp because of the differences in our gender perception. In Japan, gender is very strict, and hiding as a different gender to avoid bullying is wildly common. In America, it’s considered offensive to hide or change your gender, and when looking at this character through an American lens, their actions and motives make no sense. Without the understanding of the cultural background, things literally get ‘lost in translation’ that is often unexplainable without understanding of Japanese culture.

In de- and reterritorialization, the intent is not to harm the story or to rend the piece of media useless, but to bring about greater understanding of both cultures and tell the story in a way that makes it understandable in context.  The problems arise when the original text is glossed over in favor of pure entertainment and money. If we really wish to understand other cultures and bring about the “homogenized international discourse” (92) that Canclini speaks about, we have to understand what it takes to educate the world, and bring ourselves closer to the understanding of each other.

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