Is Anime Marketing on the Dark Side? Is It Possible to Cross Ethical Borders?

Is Anime Marketing on the Dark Side? Is It Possible to Cross Ethical Borders? ...

A new research claims that the use of these characters may perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes and foster heteronormative masculinity. Images from Wikimedia Commons

The use of anime characters in advertising is a common advertising technique in Japan. This emotional attachment to these characters is often referred to as "moe," or "moe." "Moe" has evolved to express the affection fans harbor for anime characters, also known as "moe characters."

The use of "moe characters" in marketing strategies, particularly for promoting local tourism through a practice called "moe-okoshi," has sparked debate, prompting an in-depth study by Yasuhito Abe, an Associate Professor at the Doshisha University in Japan. CMJI (Chita Musume Jikk Iinkai), an acronym for "Chita Musume Jikk."

This program aims to boost tourism in Japan's Chita Peninsula, while also providing a fascinating case study on the implications of "moe" based marketing, which was recently published in the International Journal of Cultural Studies.

"I sought to understand the social and cultural conditions under which public entities promote moe practices in collaboration with private companies in the context of regional promotion," says Dr. Abe.

CMJI's YouTube video, which was created in 2010, features moe characters, who introduce viewers to a key location in the Chita Peninsula.

Dr. Abe explored two aspects of CMJI's tourism promotion program: how it depicted areas in the Chita Peninsula as "looked-upon" objects and how it encouraged moe-consumption among its audience.

According to Dr. Abe, although CMJI received some attention for its moe characters, the practice tends to diminish a city or town's rich history to a simplified narrative that focuses on certain audiences' feelings toward moe characters.

The use of moe-elements in the CMJI experiment is ethically questionable since it portrays young women as looked-upon individuals and promotes heteronormative masculinity among its target audience. Moreover, moe-based marketing campaigns are at risk of alienating a segment of their audience who find the ideals of moe unacceptable.

This paper provides an important contribution to understanding how gendered considerations can not only impinge on the effectiveness of regional promotion, but also raise ethical concerns. It also provides an excellent argument for further investigation into moe-related regional promotion and its undesirable societal consequences.

Reference: Yasuhito Abe's case of Chita Musume "Mother than just regional promotion in Japan," International Journal of Cultural Studies, 23 March 2023. DOI: 10.1177/13678779231160568

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