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got turned onto archive.nytimes.com/www.nytime today after watching the new Action Button. Haven't gotten all the way through either yet but man it's incredible how much this presages current conversations around virtual idols and vtubers. Everything old is new again, i guess.

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"So a strange phenomenon is occurring: the video characters are becoming celebrities. Shiori has an official fan club with 10,000 members and a newsletter. There are Tokimeki gatherings and merchandise.

At a recent news conference, dozens of reporters scribbled with straight faces as Konami Co., which makes Tokimeki Memorial, announced Shiori's first compact disk and previewed the two songs, 'Teach Me, Mr. Sky,' and 'Let's Go With the Wind.'"

of note: Action Button (youtube.com/watch?v=xb-DtICmPT) makes a compelling case that this article overstates a lot of it's claims, and that these games were more mainstream and had a wider appeal then was portrayed in this article, including many female fans (& the NYTimes author makes an embarrassing "developed with no input from women" claim that's proven wrong with one look at the credits).

and remember: this was all happening in 1995

@nightpool this character trope is exceedingly common for sideline characters in romance anime these days; for example 2D‐kun in “Golden Time” and Mikorin in “ Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun” (although the latter is still in high school himself)

@nightpool so like idk, it would be very weird to me for anyone to claim this as a new phenomenon when it has not only existed for decades but existed long enough to be converted back into a trope in the medium in works which are now a decade old :P

@Leaf for sure! but we're always having these conversation about virtual idols and vtubers in the western press and it never feels like we're grounding them historically or thinking about them in a broader global context

(also, the article, as I read it, isn't *really* about the otaku/2d-kun character trope that this turned into? although it does spend some time there, the more interesting thing to me is about the weird overlap between virtual fiction and physical reality)

@nightpool i guess i see the trope as a way of approaching that overlap :P

like these are not unsympathetic portrayals, these are people who form real attachments to virtual identities and have that inform their actions in real life (where the narrated story takes place)

and that is in fact not particularly different than the feminized bookworm image of e.g. Belle in Beauty and the Beast except for the heightened intersection with capitalism and consumerist culture

so there’s a LOT there which we could be talking about and aren’t, is what i’m saying :P

@Leaf fair! I'm used to seeing those character tropes handled as one note jokesbor Evil so it's good to know more sympathetic (and hopefully more nuanced?) portrayals exist.

@nightpool yeah i can’t really explain what they are doing without going on a massive digression as to how alterity and strangeness is handled in japanese romance media but Suffice To Say that sideline characters are frequently utilized as a safe space to explore strange topics which would be taboo for protagonists without needing to carry a lens of judgment regarding them (although Golden Time is notable because its protagonist ALSO does things which would ordinarily [i think; albeit not living in the japanese context] be considered taboo, such as serving as crossdressing waitstaff at a nightclub lol)

@nightpool one of my favourite examples of this BTW is the character of Natsume in My Little Monster, who isn’t QUITE this but adjacent in that she “lives online” through forums and has no real irl friends, but is portrayed as an exceedingly complex and relatable character throughout the entirety of the series

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