Japanese Anime Fandoms in the UAE: An Exploratory Study on Media Accessibility, Habits and Cultural Perceptions
Keywords:Anime, Cosplay, Digital Media, Emirati Culture, Japan, Animation, Otaku, cartoon, Illustrators, UAE, United Arab Emirates
The satellite TV revolution in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the early 1990s precipitated the proliferation of foreign media broadcasts. Japanese anime dubbed into Arabic became the most-watched content in Emirati households, a trend that continues to date because the Japanese entertainment and digital media industry offers youngsters easy access to and diverse options for anime. This paper provides an overview and analysis of the growing popularity of anime fandoms in the UAE to ascertain the level of commitment, involvement and the moral perceptions of Emirati fans vis-à-vis Japanese pop culture. A focus group discussion was conducted in a leading UAE university among the otaku or aficionados of Japanese anime (males and females). The participant responses offered comprehensive insights into the fandom trends of the region and articulated interesting opinions on Japanese pop culture and digital media accessibility. Notably, the findings of this study suggested that the enthusiasm of this fan following is often obstructed rather than celebrated and thus cannot achieve its potential. Therefore, the study finally contemplates how Emirati otaku and their practices may be better supported in UAE.
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