Raul Sosa 9-III
Japan is well known and loved for its unique and interesting culture. This includes many long-standing traditions that have withstood the tests of time. Lots of these cultures have grown in popularity allowing them to spread worldwide, and one of them is what most people refer to as “anime”. Anime, which originally came from the English word “animation”, has contributed so much that people that enjoy it feel the overpowering need to go and visit the country of origin. Armed with these facts, you may wonder; how has anime-influenced Japanese and western culture? What impact has this had on society as a whole?
What is anime?
Anime is a term used to describe the style of Japanese animation and has been around since the early 20th century. Now, anime and its comic book counterpart, manga, are hugely successful in Japan and beyond with an industrial worth of over 15 billion US dollars. Anime does not only include children’s entertainment, but also adult shows and movies. Anime also covers a huge range of genres, including drama, romance, horror, and science-fiction. In western countries, anime is seen not only as a Japanese series of animation but it has also come to define an artistic style that Japanese use as well.
How has anime influenced Japan?
Popular anime characters can be seen all over Japan on toys, t-shirts, accessories, and even stationery. Some restaurants, such as Coco Ichibanya, have even created their very own anime-style characters to promote their children’s meals.
Anime also inspired the creation of Japan’s first Vocaloid singer, Hatsune Miku, who is a cartoon sixteen-year-old girl who makes pop music. Despite not being a real person, she has a huge fan-base and people even go to her live concerts. In addition, many companies use cute anime-style characters as mascots to attract young people to their brand. Often, popular video games have inspired the creation of a spin-off anime series, or vice versa. A good example of this would be the “Pokemon” series, which has aired since the 1990s to present and boasts dozens of games. Anime has certainly influenced Japanese pop culture over the years.
How has anime influenced the rest of the world?
Anime has become one of the best resources nowadays to tell stories in an animated form, with freedom of expression in any genre and for any audience, which contrasts against traditional cartoons which are generally aimed at children. Anime gained success in other countries when early series such as “Dragonball”, “Astro Boy”, “Sailor Moon”, and “Slam Dunk” aired. There are many people who started to become interested in Japan after watching some of these shows. Sometimes, they are even inspired to learn Japanese. As a result, in 1984, the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) was created.
The last notable Anti-Japanese sentiment was back in the 1970s, nearly half a century ago, and that was mainly doomsayers reacting to the increasing market prominence of Japanese cars and electronics.
Most animosity towards anything is largely rooted in unfamiliarity and misunderstanding, but the gradual influx of anime – from Astroboy and Speed Racer to Battle of the Planets and Star Blazers – revealed that our cultures had more in common than they seemed. Even as “Americanized” as they were, they paved the way and whetted our appetites for ‘the real thing’. By the 1980s, anime ranging from Macross to Ranma ½ and OVAs spanning the gamut from Akira to Gunnm had many of us thinking of nothing more than getting our next anime fix.
Not only did this story illuminate how pointless the remnants of Anti-Japanese sentiments were, but it even had us questioning if there had ever been a point to it.
The early 1990s served as what was known to be an “anime boom”. Due to this, anime culture further evolved when anime conventions started taking place. Anime conventions are large gatherings that may take place over a period of days, in order for fans of anime and manga to show their passion and dedication. These have even incorporated industry talk panels where voice actors and anime creation staff can meet at the event to talk about their shows, and fans can have a chance to meet them. Fans can also gather to buy merchandise and try “cosplay”. “Cosplay” is when fans dress up as their favorite character from a series and impersonate that character for the day. Cosplay is not restricted to anime but has also crossed over to western characters from comics, cartoon series, Hollywood movies, and video games.
Another popular aspect of anime is the art style. The style that stems from the anime genre is unique, characters generally sporting big eyes and unique hairstyles. Western countries have also developed series using that particular style. One of the more popular series which have adapted this art style is “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, which has gained international success.
Anime in other countries
One of the more popular examples of a western-made series is RWBY (Red White Black Yellow). RWBY is a web series produced by Austin-based company Rooster Teeth. The series was created by Monty Oum and tells the story of four girls attending a school in order for them to become huntresses and fight off the evil creatures known in their universe as the creatures of Grimm. RWBY has gained a large following in Japan and Warner Bros. Japan has decided to take it to Japan and dub it in Japanese as well as release it on Blu-Ray and DVD. This marks RWBY as one of the first American-made anime to be marketed to Japan.
So how has anime influenced the world? This multi-billion-dollar industry has certainly influenced modern cartoons in different countries as well as attracting many fans to Japan. It caused people from all over the world to decide to learn Japanese, leading to the creation of the JLPT. It could be said that this industry, then, was great for promoting tourism to Japan as well as influencing a lot of pop culture we see today.