Thursday, July 25, 2013

Close the World, Open the nExt - Ryutaro Nakamura (1955 - 2013)

I learned with much sadness today that anime creator Ryutaro Nakamura, who directed both Kino no Tabi and Serial Experiments Lain (for which this blog is named), passed away due to pancreatic cancer.

Based on interactions I've had with lain fans over the years from all around the world, I know I'm not alone when I say his works works have played an important role in my life. As I said tonight on Twitter, I suspect that many lain and Kino no Tabi marathons are being held right now.

Here are the news stories announcing his passing. It's worthwhile to read the comments to get a sense of the impact he left:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lawmune's Netspace turns 15

Even though updates to my personal website have slowed to less than a crawl, today marks the 15th anniversary of it being online. In June 1998, a month after I left college, I put up the site as a way to keep in touch with friends (this was before Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, etc.). It evolved into more than that and led to numerous opportunities for which I'm super grateful.

Tonight, I will take a moment to reflect on the World Wide Web and how it's changed in the last 15 years (for better and for worse), and maybe I'll fire up Lynx just to make sure the site still looks good in a text-only browser, something I used to do regularly.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World

In a blog post last year (Pursuing new challenges), I mentioned that a book would be coming out, featuring 2 chapters that I wrote ("Strategies of Engagement: Discovering, Defining, and Describing Otaku Culture in the United States" and "Anime and Manga Fandom as Networked Culture"). After years of putting it together, Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World finally came out in late February.

If you're interested, it's available for purchase here:

(Kindle edition)

I met Mimi Ito (the primary editor of the book) several years ago, but I became aware of her work years before meeting her in person. At my very first 4S (Society for Social Studies of Science) conference in 2001, I saw her present on mobile phone culture in Japan, and at my second 4S conference in 2002, I gave my first academic presentation on otaku. Although Mimi wasn't there in 2002, her colleague presented her paper on Yu-Gi-Oh! otaku (which I attended). I met her co-editor, Daisuke Okabe, at FanimeCon in 2007. I haven't met Izumi Tsuji (another co-editor), but I hope to in the future. The cover art was done by the very talented ulises farinas, who I hope to meet at Comic-Con this year.

Mimi wrote about the book on her blog several months ago, and she gave a talk hosted by MIT's Comparative Media Studies program, which you can watch below:

(direct link)

If you don't have time to watch that, here's a comprehensive summary by Ethan Zuckerman: Mimi Ito on Otaku culture and cultural soft power

Later, in a follow-up post, I will revisit this talk to address some of the questions that were raised at the end.

Henry Jenkins conducted a three-part interview with the editors of the book, and my work was mentioned in that. See Otaku Culture in a Connected World: An Interview with Mizuko Ito, Daisuke Okabe, and Izumi Tsuji parts one, two, and three.

On a related note, Matt Alt interviewed fellow otaku scholar Patrick Galbraith to discuss Patrick's new book (Otaku Spaces)and his thoughts on otaku culture in Japan. It's well worth a read (and I was happy to see my work mentioned there as well).

An Interview with Patrick W. Galbraith on Otaku Culture parts one, two, and three.

By the way, if you want to show off your own otaku space(s), feel free to contribute to this Flickr group I launched in 2009: Otaku Rooms

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Unintentional Lain cosplay?

Some of you may know that my wife, Carol (@raphaela235 on Twitter) is a style blogger. Since early last year, I've been helping Carol with her blog (In Pursuit of Pretty Things), and she's really turned into a real blogger. Sure, I blog for work, but in terms of keeping up a personal blog, you probably know I haven't posted much these past few years (not counting my TwitterFacebook, and Google+ activity). In any case, I'm not here to make excuses. I simply have something to share that's related to my wife and serial experiments lain (the reason this blog is called lainspotting).

Last April, Carol posted an OOTD (outfit of the day) photo, something she routinely does on IPoPT. When I saw it, it seemed so familar. Here's the photo in question:

Carol Kim
Photo courtesy of Carol Kim

So, what do you think, lain fans? Does it remind you of anything?

Maybe it's a total stretch on my part, but here's what I immediately thought of:

Lain illustration
Serial Experiments Lain, ©1998 Triangle Staff / Pioneer LDC

It's just a coincidence, of course, but I thought it was funny and weird enough to share. Carol isn't huge fan of lain like I am, and she's never cosplayed as an anime character before. It just goes to show, Lain will show up in your life if you simply allow yourself to spot her.