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Title: Producing animation : work, creativity, and aspirations in the Japanese animation industry
Author: Morisawa, Tomohiro
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines shifting relations of labour, creativity, and political economy in the context of commercial animation production in contemporary Tokyo. Based on 12 months of fieldwork in the Japanese animation industry (2009-2010), the ethnography of the thesis is centred on young animation makers whose lives are fraught with persistent job insecurity and socio-economic precariousness. Contrary to celebratory narratives of the global success of anime, found in both Japanese media discourses and the literature of Japanese studies, these professional young workers live on the socio-economic fringe of mainstream Japanese society. Despite such instability, labour discourses in the animation industry arc notable for their highly aspirational quality, which appears to be based on global liberal discourses of self-realisation through the pursuit of dreams in the labour market. Commercial animation production in the Japanese industry entails a complex division of labour in which animation makers are, at the root, divided between managers and creators. This management-creative relation structures the primary context of commercial production. Thematically, the thesis engages mainly with three research literatures in anthropology: the anthropology of creativity, the anthropology of work, and Japanese ethnography. The analytical locus is built on the perspective of young entry-level managers, with whom I worked during fieldwork and who were on the lowest strata of the workplace hierarchy. Through the detailed ethnography of animation production - one of Japan's premier creative industries - the thesis examines creative processes of animation making within the terms of work and labour. In so doing, it engages critically with the social and economic structures of commercial animation production, and explores the lived dimension of labour on the production floor. Methodologically, this means combining the perspectives of political economy and phenomenology by situating the micro-processes of animation making firmly in the industry's social and economic relations of production. I pay particular attention to the ways in which shifting social and cultural discourses of labour in Japan intersect with global liberal ideologies, such as creativity and self-realisation, in the context of commercial animation production. The major focus of the thesis is therefore to explicate what it is that makes these young animation makers, despite adverse conditions of labour, retain their aspirations to pursue the profession of animation making.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available