The Keitai Shousetsu phenomenon in Japan

Keitai Shousetsu is a part of young Japanese culture consisting of short, fictional stories posted onto host sites via mobile phones. These stories are usually less than seventy words and posted on sites which allow interaction between authors and fans. Usually the authors and readers fall into a category of young women in their teens and twenties. However, this method of writing has become increasingly popular with men of different age groups, usually posting stories with themes of horror and science fiction.

Like blogging, these short stories are written by amateurs, some of which have never read or written a novel before.
Usually biographical, sharing stories based on personal experiences, these stories are under one-word ‘pen names’ to preserve the mystique of the author. Even if a successful story, published and awarded, the author remains anonymous, protecting themselves and their personal experiences.

These short novels are often written in first person like a diary or a blog, using colloquial and informal language, with dark, sexual and violent themes that are thought to be taboo and rarely discussed aloud. The characters are normally lower class and set out in less sophisticated areas of Japan. This is very unlike the popular ‘chick-lit’ in the western countries. These short stories can help women in difficulties that are not openly discussed or accepted in Japanese society.

Two-hundred to five-hundred pages are filled with approximately five-hundred Japanese characters. Spaces between characters and lines are used to create different paces and meanings. Small gaps portray intensity, stressful and tense scene and large gaps portray a scene that is calm.

Descriptions of scenery and characters are often underdeveloped, leaving way for emotional dialogue due to the limited screen space. Emoticons (emoji) create another level of meaning through imagery.

Young women take their inspiration from manga and Japanese comic books. These stories have a fast pace similar to that of graphic novels and comic books shown through the dependence on dialogue. The juxtaposition of image (emoji and Japanese characters) and text also echo these books.

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