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Animating the SpiritedJourneys and Transformations$
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Tze-yue G. Hu, Masao Yokota, and Gyongyi Horvath

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781496826268

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2020

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496826268.001.0001

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Animating Artifact Spirits in the 2.5-Dimensional World

Animating Artifact Spirits in the 2.5-Dimensional World

Personification and Performing Characters in Token Ranbu

(p.55) Animating Artifact Spirits in the 2.5-Dimensional World
Animating the Spirited

Akiko Sugawa-Shimada

University Press of Mississippi

In Japanese folk belief, inanimate objects used for 100 years are believed to be granted a spirit. They are called tsukumogami, or artefact spirits. Through personification of the spirits in recent popular cultural products, the belief of tsukumogami has been popularized among young people who are unaware of the folk belief. One of the most popular works utilizing personified tsukumogami is Token Ranbu-ONLINE-, an online web browser (2015) and mobile game (2016). It has been adapted into 2.5-dimensional plays and musicals, anime works, and other media forms. The article explores how tsukumogami of Japanese swords are adapted in the media mix strategy of Token Ranbu. It argues that those adaptations serve to provide a spiritual site where Japanese folk beliefs can be traced. Through her study, the author also shows how Japanese folk beliefs (a mixture of Shintoism, Buddhism, and Chinese philosophies) are constructed, consumed, and used in Japan’s contemporary popular culture.

Keywords:   artefact spirits, tsukumogami, folk beliefs, pop culture, anime

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