I was thinking a little about the concept of “Cool Japan,” and why the idea has lost traction among various levels of fans and critics. One argument I hear occasionally is how, at the end of the day, people cosplaying and running around at conventions doesn’t give an image of “cool” or “cutting edge” but an image of regression or perhaps even immaturity. Essentially, people overestimated how “cool” Japan actually is. I don’t know how much this is really the case.
Another side is the way that Cool Japan was essentially government-backed. The idea of it was to use the media/fashion/image of Japan as “soft power” to influence the world. The problem, as far as I see it (and I think I’ve read similar arguments elsewhere), is that one of manga’s oft-touted strengths is its variety in terms of genres, ideas, philosophies, demographics, and even art styles. However, when it is being used by the Japanese government as one of its public faces, the manga and anime pushed out by the government becomes tacitly “government-approved.” If something is government-approved to be an image of the nation, then there is little chance that any government would willingly let their country’s image be tarnished by specific titles.
Essentially, what I’m thinking is that Cool Japan as a government-backed endeavor to some extent has to necessarily work against manga and anime as mediums of variety. I think the difference is between having something “government-approved” and “government-allowed.”
But I’m sure this topic has been talked to death. Probably at Neojaponisme.