Japanese Anime Idol Music in the Media Mix: A Case Study of the Love Live Idols
Academic studies of Japanese media culture typically only consider visual elements. Although the visual is important, the sonic dimension is also vital. This thesis explores the role of music in the transnational consumption of Japanese media through a case study of Love Live School Idol Project (Love Live), one of the most influential Japanese anime idol franchises of the last decade. The thesis specifically focuses on the activities of English-speaking fans. I discuss two key functions of anime idol music in this context. First, music defines fictional characters and functions as a platform that circulates narratives in Japanese intertextual media. Through studying fans’ listening experience, I present how various musical elements shape the personalities of anime idols. Moreover, I suggest that “intertextual listening” is the listening practice fans perform to integrate narratives across multimedia platforms, reinforcing their understanding of anime idols. Second, music is a tool of Japanese media competing for attention in an attention economy. Through investigating the anime idol rhythm game, Love Live: Love Live School Idol Festival (SIF), I argue that rhythmic performance functions as an economic device that captures, manages, and challenges fans’ finite attention. In adopting Lacher and Mizerski’s (1994) analytical model of “hedonic consumption,” I unpack fans’ immersive gaming experience and show how they distribute attention in their attempts for a perfect performance.