At FRI, we are doing research on “the entertainment trends of 2011 – 2015,” the contents of which are based on interviews we are conducting with experts.
This time, we talked to writer, critic, and author of “Theory of 2010’s Culture,” Mr. Sayawaka, as the second part of this series. This part will span two parts and talk about “representative trends,” which are necessary to discuss the period from 2011 (year of the Tohoku earthquake to 2015.)
*We gave Mr. Sayawaka results of FRI analysis before the interview and had him talk about transverse trends based on those results.
■3 points of view for organizing trends ? “Business,” “Expression,” and “Reflection in Society”
Mr. Sayawaka tells us that he uses three points of view, namely, “business,” “expression,” and “reflection in society” to organize transverse trends. He says that “expressive trends” and “trends reflected in society” are largely recognized due to social commentary and criticism, but that he grasps context by adding “business trends” to that interpretation.
The business trend that defined the period from 2011 to 2015 leaned toward consumerism in the form of “consuming things” and “consuming communication,” but the shift from “male nerds” to “female nerds” in addition to these trends was also important in entertainment.
In the last volume, we talked about “expression trends” as a whole, particularly focusing on the “female nerd demographic” among “business points of view,” and will look back on that today.
■Shift from Male Nerds to Female Nerds
Exactly what kind of people were the “female nerds” from 2011 to 2015?
They’re nerds, but casual nerds. They’re the kind of people to passionately follow a certain television show or book series. Traditional nerds were very obsessive, but these new nerds are merely “sheep,” to put it bluntly. Their obsession changes at breakneck speed. In other words, they’re not passionate about one thing, but merely always want to have something to be passionate about. In 2011, there was a public viewing of “Tiger & Bunny,” and this led to a “loud screening” (screening where the audience is permitted to make loud noises) of “King of Prism.” While female-orientated content is, without a doubt, focused on “consuming things,” I thought that “Tiger & Bunny” was an important work.
Speaking of female-orientated, the number of works based on shojo manga has increased.
I personally had my eye on “orange.” Box-office revenue exceeded \300 million, which was better than “Attack on Titan.” It was also relatively cheap to make, so I think they’ll keep making similar films. The reason for the increase in films based on manga is definitely appealing to a female audience.
Other titles such as “Touken Rambu” (a game in which swords are depicted as attractive young men) are popular, and have caused an increase in female visitors to the Tokugawa Museum in Nagoya, which displays Japanese swords, for example. Other effects unrelated to games can be seen in the high-volume sales of Genji Monogatari picture scrolls. Female fans are a force to be reckoned with.
Left Source：TIGER & BUNNY（SUNRISE）, Right Source：Touken Ranbu（DMM GAMES）
■Three expression trends from 2011 to 2015 ? “3D,” “Narou-kei,” and “Short consumption”
We will now look back on the three expression trends “3D,” “narou-kei*,” and “short consumption.”
*A fantasy genre often used in novels. Depicts an average main character in the real world who achieves great things in a different world. Often used in stories posted on the website “Shousetsuka ni Narou (become an author),” and thus acquired the name “narou-kei.”
1. From 2D to 3D
After 2011, 3D became preferred over 2D. Nowadays, 3D is popular because of the Japanese 3D game “Splatoon,” a third person shooter (TPS) game. Such 3D games let the player play with someone else and can be called “epoch-making” in Japan.
“Dark Souls,” which was released in 2011, is one such important title. Japanese people were not that familiar with 3D games at this point, but it became a title to rival those in the U.S. Similar games started to be created in other countries, but these games were not easy. They weren’t the kinds of games that young people could easily play through ? instead, they were created with seasoned players in mind.
Left Source：Splatoon（Nintendo）, Right Source：DARK SOULS（FromSoftware）
“2.5D” musicals were then created, and the market shifted toward 3D, which I believe was an attempt to move objects on a flat plain into a 3D world. This stems from cosplay and “place worship” (visiting places that anime and manga stories are set in or based on), which is really an expression of wanting to experience 2D objects in a 3D world.
2. From “everyday” to “narou-kei”
“Narou-kei” is the name for a genre of story in which the main character is omnipotent. These stories are based on wanting to be strong, and are a throwback to the 80s. I think they’re popular again today because there exists an “original,” which acts as a hub for every similar story. My personal theory is that this original is Harry Potter.
But these stories are not Western fantasy stories, but based on fantasy that Japanese people are familiar with. They’re being rewritten in the form of game-based fantasy worlds, such as that of Dragon Quest.
Do “time loop” stories also include a game element?
In game fantasy worlds, you often see loops in which characters come back to life after they’ve been killed. Meta view is also characteristic of these games. The protagonists in “narou-kei” stories also have a sense about them that says “yes, this is a game” and think about how they should attack. I’ll also talk a bit more about loops in “trends reflected in society” (second part).
3. Content for short consumption
In 2013, the morning drama “Ama-chan” was very popular. I think this was because it wasn’t based on “idols” or “the earthquake,” but on “15 minutes per day,” which is more suited to our modern lives.
I agree. Watching something for 15 minutes every day gives you something to talk to other people about. Smart phone games, in particular, are designed to be played for 5 to 10 minutes while you’re on a train, for example. The same applies to morning dramas and anime. In terms of anime, many viewers can’t watch shows for a long time, and producers are finding it difficult to create 30-minute episodes. Anime based on 4-strip comics are also becoming more popular, so they may have realized that episodes don’t need to be 30 minutes long.
Manga is also now mainly read on smart phones for short periods of time, and manga magazines are more like literary magazines nowadays. 2011 saw the switch over to Internet-based content. People don’t really watch long things on the Internet, which is why things are now consumed in a short amount of time.
In the second part, we will ask Mr. Sayawaka about works that reflect the state of society in the period from 2011 to 2015, focusing on trends reflected in society.
≫Continuing onto the second part
A writer, critic, and manga artist. Has written for “Yuriika,” “Quick Japan,” and others. Has regular publications in “AERA,” “Da Vinci,” and “Big Gangan.” Critic of novels, manga, anime, music, movies, plays, and Internet content. Author of “Our Game History” and “Theory of 2010’s Culture.”
Research and Development Office
(Fields Research Institute),
Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment.
This article was written by a member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests observed in their daily lives.