Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Neko Culture in Second Life

The following conference proposal has just been submitted to the Under the Mask: Perspectives on the Gamer conference at the University of Bedfordshire in Luton, UK:

Based on as sources as varying as for instance Japanese manga fiction, Egyptian mythology, Batman’s Catwoman, the musical Cats and conceptions of what “cats are like,” the Neko culture has become one of the most visible subcultures in Second Life (Villota). The cat-inspired avatars look like hybrids of (usually) female-shaped humans and cats, with cat’s ears, tails and, less often, whiskers and cat skins in various colours (Villota). Wearing urban street fashion or perhaps Japanese school girl uniforms, these Second Life residents live out the fantasy of who they might have been had they been born as felines, or perhaps they only gather strength from idea of the individuality and independence of the cat.

Neko is the Japanese word for cat, and the origin of the Japanese Neko community is primarily the 2002 movie “The cat returns,” which tells the story of a schoolgirl being abducted by the prince of the “Cat Kingdom.” Before the shotgun wedding she begins to transform into a cat, but before the transformation is complete she is rescued and the girl is left in human form but with the addition of cat’s ears and a tail. The movie inspired a large number of fans to dress and act like the schoolgirl (Villota). Using sources such as blogs, forum discussions and interviews I intend to study the Nekos in Second Life as a form of fan culture, which has been imported into the Western cultural sphere and, and while retaining its Japanese name, it has been transformed both by Western examples of “cat people” and its incorporation into the Second Life community.


Let's hope it becomes accepted.

21 comments:

Ginseng Kyong said...

oh wow sounds like a fun movie to watch!

Nice choice of topic to study!!

Mia said...

I haven't seen it myself, but I think I will need to at some point. What I've realised is that this is not necessarily the type of Neko culture that has been developed in SL, which is interesting in itself. I'm happy that you appreciate my choice of topic! :)

pirka said...

I can talk about this subject,if you are interested :)

Una Breda, proud member of neko community in SL

Mia said...

I'd be very happy to talk to you, Una! I'll contact you inworld.

Sanura Snowpaw said...

I would love to help please feel free to contact me in world :)

Mia said...

Thanks, Sanura! I definitely will. :)

pussycat said...

Well I don't wear urban grunge or Japanese fashions. More glam when I'm theming. :)

There are a -lot- of us though, but we come in all manner of flavors.

My observation tends to be that 'urban' is less worn by nekos than it is made by people who are not neko, or only wear neko parts once in a while - but think that stuff appeals to nekos. :)

I've met all of 1 neko that actually went for the urban grunge theme.

Mia said...

Thanks for your comment, pussycat! It's interesting actually... I think I've seen far more Nekos in street/urban/grunge than I have seen glam ones, but I would love to learn more about the latter as well. Would you be willing to talk to me about this?

Blair said...

I'm a neko in SL, and I'm Swedish (from Kallinge close to Ronneby, not very far away ;). My SL name is Blair Silvercloud if you would like to talk?

Mia said...

I'd love to, Blair! Great that you live so close too. :)

gatamiau said...

As a SL neko, I'd be happy to help you on your research. Please feel free to call me inworld. Leilah Nishi

Mia said...

Thanks, Leilah! I'd love to talk to you.

Pedro said...

Hi Mia, just got the news about your tempting project, sometimes they end up traveling slower than we would like *giggles*, and if you would like more feedback about nekos I'll be glad to help you, since i've been a neko my whole SL life, I got an all neko clan plus a roleplay sim for nekos.

Buzz me anytime if you need more input for your project (since i noticed the original post is from April), my sl name is Ewokian Pessoa.

Mia said...

I'd love to talk to you and learn more about what you're doing, Pedro! I'll definitely contact you inworld. Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Mia, saw the link to your blog on Virtual Nekos' and thought I would look over your blog!

Kyllie Wylie

Mia said...

Well... I hope you enjoyed your visit, Kyllie! :) I've been thinking a lot about what you said, and Stacia and I have discussed the difference between Eastern and Western notions of "Nekoism." I'm sure the discussions will continue, and it would be great if you had the time to join us... Take care!

Robepierre99 said...

Sounds like a very interesting research topic. While I have had many personas in SL (human/neko/furry/vampire), I've always found the Neko culture to be the most varied and interesting. Good hunting =^.^=

Mia said...

Thanks, Robepierre99! I'd be really interested in getting an interview if you should have the time...

kristine kristan said...

I am a catgirl in SL, but I don't refer to myself as a Neko, but as an Aeluroid (or just a catgirl in normal conversation). I met Stacia a bit back and she had mentioned I should get in touch with you. Please feel free to find me in-world.

Mia said...

Thanks, Kristine! I'll look for you...

Duranu Razorfen said...

Is this project still being conducted? My curiousity has gotten the better of me (which is pretty much the case for most any Neko).