Editor’s Desk: What’s in a Name?

To understand the inspiration for the name behind the current incarnation of the site, we must take a trip together back into the dark and murky past of early 2005. Back to when this blog was called “American Junk”. Back before quoting TMBG lyrics was “cool”.
It seems I didn’t actually chronicle the name change to Heisei Democracy when it happened, presumably when that not-really-a-first-post first post occurred; I do recall the rationale for the change, though. While I am American, the junk I was posting about was decidedly not, and blog titles tend to refer more to the blog content than to the author. Clearly the old name had to go. Also, this was back when Moetry was updating with catchy post titles and I wanted to catch the wave; Mainichi Junk at American Junk? I think not.
No, the blog needed a suitably hip and cosmopolitan name, something obscure to the point of incomprehensibility, a work of art whose meaning would be provided entirely by the reader. All of the good, short, snappy names were already taken. What to do…
It was around this point that I was working on translation of Welcome to the NHK for Jinmen Juushin. The early chapters of the manga are filled with delightful otakuisms and non sequiturs, and chapter three was no exception: those currently viewing the anime will recall Satou and Yamazaki’s excellent Akihabara adventure, which if anything was even more bizarre in its manga incarnation.
Behold the following panel (and linked, translated page) from the manga version of said event:
the original inspiration for Heisei Democracy
“Otaku hedge fund”? “Heisei democracy”?

Google searches in both English and Japanese could do nothing to demystify Yamazaki’s ravings. However it gradually dawned on me, after completing the Jinmen translation (in which I replaced the Heisei democracy line with something more intelligible), that this was a good thing. Yamazaki is ranting in a freestyle expository manner about Akihabara, something I found myself doing more often than was seemly – why not take his free associations and put them to use?
I proceeded to do just that, and Heisei Democracy was born.
editor's desk logo
Shingo still doesn’t know what an otaku hedge fund is, and lies awake nights wondering what he’ll do with the site name when the Heisei emperor kicks the bucket.

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0 Responses to Editor’s Desk: What’s in a Name?

  1. Agent Wax September 5, 2006 at 6:55 pm #

    On the subject of Japanese Divinity, I think the female half of the royal family is getting screwed pretty bad. Not that this is unique to Japan, but the about-turn on the succession rules when the pregnancy was announced would generate whirlpools.

  2. Ledoux September 6, 2006 at 2:28 am #

    Ha ha, awesome. The manga of Welcome to the NHK is great, and it’s cool to see two things I like linked together (this blog being the other thing).

  3. mt-i September 6, 2006 at 4:42 am #

    Heh, when I read that page (which was not too long ago, as I picked up the manga after the series began), I figured those random lines of Yamazaki where actually a reference to some obscure bits of otaku culture that also happened to be this site’s namesake. Funny to see that it was seemingly obscure even to Shingo himself :-).

  4. shinsengumi September 6, 2006 at 3:26 pm #

    Though I never knew that the name “Heisei Democracy” was an N.H.K. reference, I always thought that it was a clever name. Just as “Taisho Democracy” is used to describe the newfound influence and freedom enjoyed by the lower and middle classes during the relatively free reign of the Taisho emperor, I thought that “Heisei Democracy” could be applied in an anime context to describe a period when those who appreciate anime are no longer necessarily considered fringe elements of society and where the anime art form itself is fluorishing. In short, it’s a name that not only sounds cool, but it is also one to which deep meanings can be easily applied.
    Speaking of when the Heisei emperor kicks the bucket, the Japanese succession crisis has been solved, or so it seems.

  5. Shingo September 6, 2006 at 3:33 pm #

    Regarding the succession crisis – that still doesn’t solve the problem of the name of the era changing with the death of the current emperor. At best “Heisei Democracy” will sound outdated, at worst tawdry and disrespectful of the dead. ;_;
    Ah well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. I do think it’s a rather thought provoking name, and will provide a decent foil for the companion webcomic should it ever get off the ground. Demo-tan banzai!

  6. LiK September 14, 2006 at 12:02 am #

    to be honest, i still dunno what the name really means. but it’s a name so it doesn’t matter ^^

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