Japanese popular culture has been around for many years and is the leading wave of Asian popular culture. It includes a variety of media such as manga, anime, film and music. Japanese popular culture is also portrayed through physical forms such as products, celebrities, personalities, maid cafes and may others. SMAP is a Jpop boy band with immense popularity from Japan and is one form of Japanese popular culture. Darling-Wolf suggests that SMAP's popularity is due to its careful construction of appeal and masculinity.
SMAP is not well-known for their talents in singing, but rather for depicting Japanese personalities. Darling-Wolf refers to SMAP members as 'life-sized' pop idols (Aoyagi) ...view middle of the document...
They can play multiple characters and typically make parodies of western popular culture. A few members are also not afraid to cross-dress and wear form-fitting clothes, which creates a sex appeal to the homosexual males in Japan. An interesting suggestion from Darling-Wolf is that though a few SMAP members have a highly sexual and feminised image, this may still appeal to the female audience as well as the homosexual male audience. The female audience may be attracted to the fact that SMAP is able to have romantic relationships beyond boundaries such as gender roles and heterosexuality. This is a particularly interesting which could have been discussed further.
In contrast to the Western culture, hardly any boy bands have a feminine image. Most celebrities are afraid to speak out about their homosexuality and until recently, same-sex marriage was accepted in America, which may have made it easier for celebrities to speak out. Though there are openly homosexual western celebrities such as Sam Smith and Ricky Martin, they do not portray heavily sexualised and feminine personalities like SMAP members. They are particularly conservative and will hardly wear heavy make-up or cross dress. This is an observation that can potentially be further examined.
A few limitations of Darling-Wolf's article is that though there were heavy emphasis on male masculinity and boy bands, there were no comparisons to the female bands and their appeal. It is unsure whether this can be applied to females too. Topics that can be further explored include whether hybridity in identities and racial characters will be as appealing when it is portrayed through female celebrities or femininity portrayed through female celebrities and whether masculinity would be appealing. Also, it is interesting to note that while SMAP may portray homosexuality through some of its members, it is accepted by Japan, even though Japan is against homosexuality and have a traditionalist view. This can suggest that Japan is evolving.
Another form of Japanese popular culture is 'kawaii', which is thoroughly examined in Yano's article on the success of Hello Kitty. Yano suggests that Hello Kitty's kawaii characteristics are what made it so popular not just in Japan, but across the globe. Kawaii can be defined by McVeigh's (2000) interrelated dimensions of physical, relational/emotional and sexual dimensions. There are other characteristics that Masobuchi (1994) defined kawaii as smallness, innocence, youth, dependency, roundness, pastel colours and animal-like qualities.
Hello Kitty has experienced success from all around the world as it is able to assimilate into different cultures, which can be argued that it is due to its kawaii characteristics as Yano claims. Yano's strong arguments that Hello Kitty created a nurturing and dependency relationship between consumer and Hello Kitty. It also created more bonds and connections such as the mother and daughter...