The Specter of Postmodern Trauma in Bakemonogatari
Keywords:Otaku, Bakemonogatari, Moe-Kyara, Consumer-Capitalism, identity
The anime adaptation of the light novel franchise Bakemonogatari was released in 2009. The story revolves around the character Araragi Koyomi, a high school student in his senior year who encounters a powerful vampire during a school break and is transformed into a semi-supernatural being himself. However, this is not merely an example of a supernaturally-focused anime, but rather is a discussion on the impact of capitalism on the subjectivity of the individual. The narrative and experience of viewing Bakemonogatari is a commentary on the trauma of postmodernity and otaku consumption’s failure to remediate the objectification of consumer-capitalism. The series’ design and narrative choices is designed to attract otaku, to whose consumption these patterns are designed to appeal, and thereby give warning to otaku concerning the potential dangers posed by their approach towards media. The characters in this series are possessed by Specters who dredge up and yet simultaneously suppress this traumatic state of existence in a world without catharsis and without justice. Otaku, attracted to moe-kyara to escape the drudgery and misery of the three-dimensional world, are shown that this escape itself is a form of harm—like Araragi, they turn meaning into a form of self-flagellation and heap untold suffering on the moe-kyara towards which they are inextricably drawn.
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