The Charmed Realm in the 21st Century: Onmyoji, the “Nightmare-eater”, and Humanities Education

By Amy W. S. Lee.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The fantastic, the magical and the legendary have invaded the culture and lives of young people in most of the English-speaking and English-using countries since the end of the 20th century, and this trend still shows no sign of slowing down now that the first decade of the 21st century is almost over. While pondering on the attraction of such a magical and fantastic realm to our own generation of youngsters across childhood and adolescence, one begins to notice certain common features that this realm shares with another hugely popular group of activities young adults engage in – the world of ACG (animation, comic, game). Both worlds are spaces parallel to our realistic world, mostly following the logic and rules of probability that are operating in our world, but deviating in thought-provoking and often critical moments from the usual. Thus this fictional fantastic world often ends up in surprising and very often inspiring developments which ironically reflect back to some universal basic rules in our realistic world. To understand the new generation of young people, to comprehend how they think and relate to the world created by their perception, we need to explore some of these popular cultural texts that appeal to them and sometimes are created by them. For scholars and educators, to hope to contribute anything to the education of these young people, a knowledge and understanding of some of these appealing texts is a must. This paper will use Yumemakura Baku’s Onmyoji series as an example of such a cultural text of the youth, to interpret the world that appeals to youngsters and what values, meaning, and directions they could get in touch with in this parallel world to us. It is hoped that through a textual analysis of this Japanese literary series, we can come to a better understanding of the values, the meaning, and most importantly, the language that young people of this generation use to construct and describe their internal parallel world.

Keywords: Literary Studies, Literature, Language Studies, Japanese Popular Culture, Cross-cultural Text, Fantasy Literature

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 9, pp.29-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.225MB).

Dr. Amy W. S. Lee

Assistant Professor, Humanities Programme, Department of English Language and Literature, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Amy Lee has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from The University of Warwick, UK. Her research interest includes the Chinese Diaspora, female self-writing, contemporary fiction and culture, and narratives of marginal experiences. She has published on women’s diasporic writing, life writing, gender issues in contemporary fictions and detective fiction. She has taught writing and communication courses of different kinds: professional writing and communication, creative writing and academic writing. Currently she is an assistant professor in the Humanities Programme and the Department of English Language and Literature of Hong Kong Baptist University.

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