MIRA 2021: Keynote on Medievalism and Larp
Keynote about larp in Japan and questions of East Asian Medievalism at the 9th Mutual Images Workshop, Manchester, December 2, 2021.
Of Castles and Ninjas: Snapshots of a History of Analog Role-Playing in Japan
Date & Time: December 2 (Thur), 13:10-14:00 (UK Time)
Location: Online (cf. conference website)
The Mutual Images Research Association decided to start a sub-series of their annual International Workshop, dedicated to Medievalism in East Asia. This first edition, done in co-operation with, and hosted by the Digital Curation Lab at the University of Salford (Manchester), aims to explore the reception, interpretations and refashionings of the European Middle Ages across all genres and media in East Asia, from early to most contemporary creations, from printed story-worlds to digital role-playing games. Participants are asked to consider the cultural, ideological, or theoretical implications of such recreations of the European Middle Ages.
I was invited to deliver the keynote to this first workshop. Even though Medievalism does not belong to my fields of expertise, questions about the prevalence of sword-and-sword fantasy and pseudo-medieval elements in non-digital role-playing games practiced in Japan also feature in my research. Focusing on larp and such questions in short history of how larp was and continues to be adapted and assembled in Japan, I follow with a brief discussion of educational history larps and the example of events concerning the figure of the ninja. The reception, interpretation or recreation of the European Middle Ages in East Asia and the subsequent reception in Europe of this Medievalism are a particularly interesting topic as it happens in a matrix of standardized narratives of influence between Euro-America and the rest of the world. Furthermore and considering the ninja larps, the tension between accuracy and fun, challenges of reenacting the past, expectations and genre conventions, form bridges to the East Asian imaginings of medieval Europe. What could be more exciting than the creative engagements and transcultural entanglements in these moments of negotiating the past?