East Asian Perspective in Transmedia Storytelling | Yōkai Monsters at Large: Mizuki Shigeru’s Manga, Transmedia Practices, and (Lack of) Cultural Politics
This study engages in a discussion of yōkai (preternatural monsters in Japanese folklore) characters in Mizuki Shigeru’s manga and their transmedia expansion not as an expression of Japanese cultural tradition, but as an outcome of transmedia adaptation practices (known as “media mix” in Japan) in the modern period by creators, media companies, and other social agents. This study argues that recent Japanese transmedia practices are principally propelled by the specific style of character drawing found in the manga medium and the character-centric multimedia production scheme, which makes manga(-originated) characters—including yōkai characters—versatile for moving across different media platforms. Although transmedia practices can enhance the potential for producing synergies among previously discrete cultural industries and media companies to attain more profits, such a close relationship undermines the autonomy of each media industry, company, and other actors, which can attenuate social critique or cultural politics previously exercised through storytelling in manga, including Mizuki’s yōkai works. By analyzing the transmedia practices that have used Mizuki’s yōkai manga as “original” sources, this article addresses what has been gained and lost when yōkai are migrated into different media platforms.