Volume index - Journal index - Article index - Map ---- Back

Comunicar Journal 58: Digital media and learning: Emergent forms of participation and social transformation (Vol. 27 - 2019)

The ‘danmu’ phenomenon and media participation: Intercultural understanding and language learning through ‘The Ministry of Time’


Leticia-Tian Zhang

Daniel Cassany


While research on Western multimedia platforms, such as YouTube, is prolific and interdisciplinary, Asian portals remain unknown. We explore this field by analyzing the juvenile and intercultural uses of a popular visualization system in Japan and China, known as “danmaku” or “danmu”. This technology inserts dynamic and contextualized comments on a photogram, with several typographical possibilities. Based on a corpus of 1,590 comments on “The Ministry of Time,” collected from a fandom platform with millions of users, we analyzed the topics that arouse the most interest among Chinese fans. We combine content analysis, which incorporates coding and counting techniques of the categories with the most interventions (n>16), with multimodal discourse analysis (TV series, Asian platform and user comments). Results show that the viewers are most interested in the film genre (time travel), the characters, the plot, certain sociocultural contents, and the Spanish language. Their discussions address issues of interculturality, some topics that are taboo in China and the fandom culture in Asia. Our study illustrates the potential of participation, communication, and learning in Asian social media, and constitutes an interesting and innovative contribution to the field of media and digital literacy, with various suggestions to promote intercultural competence with the use of popular culture.


Social networks, audiovisual media, audience, participatory culture, knowledge building, interculturality, informal learning, discourse analysis