Selling the sweatdrop: the translation of 'Japaneseness' in manga and anime fan fiction

Jane Ying Yieng Leong

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

1474 Downloads (Pure)


The worldwide popularity of Japanese comics (manga) and cartoons (anime) is significantly dependent on the translation of these texts for local contexts, and a number of studies have examined the sociopolitical and textual implications of this process. Manga and anime are also notable for the fandoms that surround them, as a substantial body of research has observed. In this respect, however, the study of fan fiction based on manga and anime is as yet an underdeveloped field. This thesis argues that the writing of manga and anime fan fiction, understood as a process of translation, can elucidate the richness and complexity of cross-cultural communication in a globalised context. By analysing responses gathered from an online survey of manga and anime fans, and drawing together research concepts from literary theory, translation theory and fan studies, this thesis examines the translation of 'Japaneseness' for English-language fan stories. This is achieved through a three-fold approach. Firstly, I draw on ideas of genre formation to examine the 'Japaneseness' of manga and anime as defined by non-Japanese fans. Secondly, I draw on theoretical perspectives from the fields of translation studies, reader-response theory and cultural studies to show that survey participants prefer more 'authentically Japanese' translations. Thirdly, I draw on theories of fandom to illustrate how fan writers negotiate between ideas of canon and creativity, as well as engage with the wider fan community. My findings in these three areas are then consolidated in my proposal that fan writers can be viewed as 'partial translators'. This concept describes firstly how fan fiction texts are partial translations that negotiate between the 'Japaneseness' of the source manga and anime texts and the Englishspeaking skills and contexts of fan writers; and secondly, the partial, or subjective, evaluations that fan writers make concerning the incorporation of 'Japaneseness' into fan fiction. This function of translation in fan fiction is then illustrated in two case studies. The thesis concludes by affirming that fan fiction deserves scholarly attention, and that a translation framework can be usefully applied as an approach to analysing it, especially in the case of manga and anime fan fiction, which offers fresh insight into ideas of crosscultural understanding, fan fiction and fan participation.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2010

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Selling the sweatdrop: the translation of 'Japaneseness' in manga and anime fan fiction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this