Stanford Journal of East Asian Affairs – Volume 15

Page 112

MICHAEL ALEXANDER LEE the predominant worldview. “The entity that guaranteed the noncontradictory coexistence of these multiple monads within the same world – what Leibniz termed their compossibility – was none other than God.” 22 In the case of the Haruhi universe, this God figure is Kadokawa Shoten, the company in control of all official media relating to Suzumiya Haruhi. “The company, the brand, and the character become points of connection between incompossible worlds. The company thus constitutes the environment in which all relationships developed are compossible at some level, even as it allows a proliferation of differences and the active participation of the consumer-producer in the constitution of the world in question.” 23 The creation of fan narratives is, in fact, encouraged by some companies as a way to promote the brand through unofficial channels, like doujinshi sold at Comic Market. Doujin artist Miyasaka Nozomi has stated, “Circles [a term describing a group of people who work on fan projects together] are asked to present their works because many companies see it as a plus to their own advertising. The word ‘synergy’ (soujou kouka) is often used.” 24 This idea that fans, too, may take part in the creative process is another linkage between media that strengthens the character image and the world of that character – and hints at the shift in capitalism that Lazzarato and Steinberg describe, namely that creativity is needed to produce value, which all capitalist societies require. Is this phenomena unique to Japan? That is harder to establish, as components of the anime media mix are found elsewhere. Examples may include books reprinted when a movie is released with new cover art to reflect the style of the film, or characters, such as Harry Potter, who transition from book to film while staying in the same character world. But, in the context of Harry Potter, it would be nearly inconceivable that author J.K. Rowling would allow for fan fiction of Harry Potter to be considered a part of the character’s world. The film adaptations must follow the one narrative for which the God-figure allows; there could never be a Harry Potter universe where the Sorting Hat chooses Hufflepuff for

Harry instead of Gryffindor, for example. In this sense, the Harry Potter universe still exists in a disciplinary society and in a Fordist model of capitalism. Suzumiya Haruhi’s ability to leap through media can be attributed to an evolution in the marketing style preferred by Japanese anime companies, which strayed away from a marketing style that separated medium and product, to one that looks at the gaps between media and searches for ways to connect them. The answer came in the form of the character. By creating characters that have a stable image and are anchored to a strong worldview, marketing becomes focused on the character and gets consumers to follow them wherever they may appear next. By using cross-promotion in this way, a franchise is strengthened through the consumption of any part of the character’s world. The final piece brings fans into the creative process, allowing consumers to switch hats and become producers as well. Not only does this proliferate the character further, but it also creates a strong sense of community within the fan base, which is brought together by a character in whose creation they can share in. From Kadokawa Shōten’s offices in Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward, to Kyoto Animation’s studios in the city of Uji just outside of Kyoto, to the halls of Tokyo Big Sight convention center on the manmade island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay – where fans trade doujinshi of their favorite characters – Haruhi effortlessly leaps from medium to medium, garnering new fans across Japan and around the world. She has jumped between eleven light novels, two anime seasons, four separate manga series, two online anime series, a feature length film, four radio drama CDs, and eight video games. Nevertheless, wherever her next adventure takes her, she will still be Haruhi, her world will be the same, and the narrative will be canon. She remains a “Girl Who Leapt Through Media.”

22 23 24

Miyasaka, Nozomi. Personal Interview,14 August 2013.