(Note: This is a continuation of the previous post applying Hiroki Azuma’s theory of database consumption to the anime K.)
With regards to the database characteristics used in K, let us first look at the series’s character design.
In K, we have our gothic lolicon character, Anna Kushina,
a character pairing of Shion and Nezumi from 2011 anime No. 6,
the MEGANE power duo, Fushimi Saruhiko and Munakata Reisi,
oppai wielder, Seri Awashima,
and the oft naked, pink-haired, cat-girl, Neko.
Relationship between the characters aside, the characters’s dominant features evoke meaning that has developed over a multitude of anime and manga series. In other words, the “database” of anime design features can only mold the audience’s desires and expectations of these characters even before watching the series. We see this time and time again, leading to the questions concerning the relationship between the consumer and producers of anime.
In Otaku, Azuma characterizes database consumption as leading to “animalistic tendencies,” reducing desires into easily fulfillable tastes in specific “types.” In his consumption model, Azuma defines human as having desires that are essentially unfulfilled, and it is that state that makes us humans. However, with the rise of otaku in beginning in the 1970s and blossoming in the 1980s, the “database” has filtered human desire into satiable, compact impulses for particular “types” and characteristics. That state of fulfillable desires in turn transforms the human into an “animal” without concern for larger themes or truths behind the facade of design. For example, the fujoshi that likes megane characters, or even more specifically, seme megane characters. The itch for the seme megane can then be satiated through the search and subsequent discovery of media possessing those database derived tastes. Capitalism then uses this model to mine from these database desires, as can be seen in such name as K.
K is not particularly unique in attracting fans by adhering to prefab motifs commonplace in contemporary anime. Yet, under this model, the consumer appears to be slave to the media machine because of their “animalistic” desires. While Azuma’s model attempts to clarify otaku culture, the consumer is perhaps merely a victim of media fueled capitalism…
Tune in next week for further discussion on Azuma’s theory of database consumption