This is an interesting article about Japanese culture and cellphone novels that some of you may enjoy. It’s both enlightening and slightly depressing, but those of you who are familiar with the source (The New Yorker) may already be aware of that tendency.
At first it introduces the story of a young woman who wrote a keitai novel on a whim and posted it electronically to the internet. Even though it was unedited, raw, and unplanned, it was so successful that the printed version made the top 10 list of literary hardbacks sold in 2007.
This article discusses the origins of this cellular genre and its rise in modern day Japan, especially for young women. 2-chan gets a shoutout, as well as Pynchon, Tarantino, and many established Japanese literary giants. I think it has found a niche in the world quite separate from the literary circles it only pretends to want to enter. The article suggests the entire genre fits more appropriately into the spoken story-telling tradition, and even compares it to the Tale of Genji in a school setting instead of a court and palace.
I myself have had some exposure to this cellphone-age phenomenon, but my initial reaction was more along the lines of “wtf is this?” – and promptly went back to reading language books and novels that make up the bulk of my belongings. Well, the electronic novels themselves may not suit everyone’s tastes, but the article is a very interesting read and gives some great insight into both modern and historical literacy in Japan. It doesn’t relate directly to anime, but it’s a close cousin, and satiates the needs of my Random Curiosity.
Artwork at left courtesy of くろぶた on pixiv (account needed to access).