Cell Phone Novel

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Before the ubiquity of iPad, Kindle, and other tablets ushered in a new appreciation of the literary, there was the cell phone novel. Initiated in Japan around 2000, one of the most popular examples of the cell phone novel ( keitai sh ō setsu ), Koizara , was successfully adapted into a multimilliondollar fi film. The success of keitai sh ō setsu can be attributed to a variety of factors: Japan’s cell phone ( keitai ) market, where screens are big; long commutes on public transport; the specific fi characteristics of the Japanese language; and the long tradition of the “personal, pedestrian and portable” (Ito 2005) as part of everyday life. As a medium, it has been embraced by young women, as both readers and writers, for its ability to provide new avenues and contexts for expression around previously tacit practices (e.g., domesticity; Hjorth 2009b).
Ryan, Marie-Laure, Emerson, Lori, and Robertson, Benjamin J., eds. Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media.

The keitai sh ō setsu u phenomenon began with the founding of one of Japan’s most pivotal usercreated content (UCC) sites for mobile Internet, Maho No Airando ( maho meaning “magic”), in 1999. Although keitai sh ō setsu u were initially written by professionals, by the mid-2000s everyday users had begun to be inspired to write and disseminate their own keitai sh ō setsu . Predominantly written by y women for r women, this mode of new media highlights the signifi ficance of remediation (Bolter and Grusin 1999); many of the successful keitai sh ō setsu u (millions produced yearly) are adapted into older media such as film, fi manga , and anime (see remediation). This practice can be seen as an extension of earlier gendered tropes of Japanese new media that were dubbed in the 1980s the “Anomalous Female Teenage Handwriting” phenomenon (Kinsella 1995). Characterized by “ kawaii” ” (cute) transformations of the Japanese alphabet, hiragana , an emerging genre of new media writing (which has a history as “women’s language”), soon dominated mobile communication from the pager onward; it became known as the “highschool girl pager revolution” whereby female UCCs hijacked (through personalization techniques) the technologies industry conventionally aimed at businessmen (“salarymen”) (Fujimoto 2005; Matsuda 2005; Hjorth 2003).

(Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved)

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Sumeya Hassan