Perceptions of Anime in the West
Info: 6659 words (27 pages) Dissertation
Published: 1st Oct 2021
Tagged: Cultural StudiesMedia
Different words or terms used in this dissertation might not be clear for those who are not familiar with the anime community so I will briefly explain some of the essential terms which will be in the text.
Anime pronounced 'ah-ne-may' is an abbreviation of the word animation. It is used to refer all animation, but it turns out that outside of Japan it has been used to refer to all animation made in Japan (Napier, 2001). Over the years Japanese animation has developed a variety of genre and caters to consumers of all ages. These animations are not simply cartoons aimed to entertain children but also have more serious themes consisting of war, death or controversy (G.Hu, 2010). Anime when viewed shows very strong and clear indications of its Japanese roots (Napier, 2001).
Manga pronounced 'mahn-ga' with a hard 'g' basically means comics in Japanese. Manga can be recognized by the stylized artwork budding from old Japanese art. Regular manga chapters would be in the same physical form of a comic book and because manga is written in Japanese, the comic books are read from right to left opposite to that of western comic books (Brenner, 2007).
Okada Toshio calls Otaku's 'people with a [highly] evolved sense of sight'(LaMarre, 2009). Otaku's are mentioned by Azuma (2001) in her book (originally in Japanese, later translated by Jonathan E. Abel) describing them as individuals who in majority are male in gender, and generally between the age of 18 to 40. Otaku's consume, produce and collect Japanese manga and anime obsessively. Their hobby extends to fan merchandise of the anime or manga they watch. Otaku's had increased in such a vast number over the years that Azuma (2001) in her book mentions that this has become a culture in Japan and this is not only limited to Japan but a strongly influenced popular culture around the globe.
As anime took the world by storm Cosplay followed (Poulos, 2006). Poulos (2006) explained in his book that 'Cosplay' is short for 'costume' and 'play' a hobby practiced by those who are fans of anime. The main meaning of cosplaying is to dress up as a character either from an anime or a manga they like and join a group of people with the same interests and pose for taking pictures also. Cosplaying is closely associated with the Japanese community who base their Cosplay on anime and manga.
Mecha is short for mechanical and in the context of Japanese popular culture, Mecha is one of the many genres in anime and manga (e.g. Gundam). Anything from an electric shaver to a huge mechanical robot with a pilot inside or even if it's externally controlled, is mecha. (Poitras, 2001, p. 35)
Generally speaking if a fan makes subtitles for a foreign film or programs it is referred to as a fansub. While looking at the term in a narrower definition it limits the practice to fan subtitling of anime (Leonard, 2005). They would often be subtitled by fans who watch the series and then uploaded to the internet thus making it available for everyone and an anime having no translated subtitles and is in its original form would be identified as 'raws'.
Forums are interactive discussion areas in real time on the internet. The word 'forums' is used in its plural form because areas of it are divided into several topics. The reason it's often compared to a bulletin board is that you can post content on forums like using thumbtacks on billboards. This process on forums is called 'posting' (Summey, Dawson, 2006). Forums are in this case used by fans that are members of this specific internet site and share their opinions, talk about popular animes or the ones that was released in the past. They have daily updates and provide links to the latest and popular manga or anime. Members can create a profile with personal information and thus have a more personal interaction with users with the same interests, comment on their topics or create new topics (Schodt, 2007).
Anime and manga
Before proceeding forward it is also important to establish the connection between anime and manga. They both have a rich and distinct, visual story telling. Both world of anime and manga inspire one another and often create titles related to one another (Brenner, 2007). The connection of anime and manga is much closer to that then that between American comic books and animated cartoons. Almost all animes including T.V series that are aired on different channels or those available on dvds, Original Video Animations (OVA) and theatrical features are mostly based on the manga that is published (Patten, 2004).
Shōnen and Shōjo both are terms used for anime and manga for either the male gender or the female. Shōnen can be used for those animes or mangas targeted towards teenage boys. For example most Shōnen mangas made by Osamu Tezuka were dark and in some places he drew scenes of cannibalism. On the other hand Shōjo the term used for those anime or manga targeted towards younger girls would usually contain feminine traits in them. There are also terms implied on older men and women. Seinen is used for men while Josei is used for women (Power, 2009).
Background of Anime
One of the first Japanese animations or anime was known to have been screened in 1917. All the animes made during this period of time were made with same animation techniques that were used by the rest of the world. Stories were mostly fairytales of both western and Japanese origin mainly because artists were restricted from producing animes with any hint of propaganda and other sensitive issues (Poitras, 2001, p. 16). According to Hu (2010), Japanese animation or anime significantly evolved during the end of World War II.
Drazen (2003) states in his book that animation genres soon after were controversial, depicting stories that would show hardships that people came across during the war. One example is an anime by Isao Takahata called 'Grave of the fireflies', a story based on two children who starved to death near the end of the war. The war made an impact on the initial genre and depicted war in the animations, and some of the changes were so drastic, to the extent that they would either be about fictional battles in Japan or a battle with connection to earth; sometimes maybe in a whole other universe but humans being one of the species in the stories (Drazen, 2003).
After the 1940's even most of the domestic films were animated films based on mangas. In the 1950's anime started to evolve by adaptation which started with Toei Animation. Toei animation is a famous animation studio owned by Toei Co. Ltd and its headquarters established in Tokyo, Japan. They did not stick to the genre of military and battle for long, it was then in the 1960's when anime started to generate a vast popularity and various new genre were also introduced. A number of famous titles came to surface which catered to a large variety of age groups. Some famous titles during that time mentioned by Patten (2004, p. 76) are 'Lupin III', 'Speed racer' and 'Yamato' which are run on some channels even now (these titles are mentioned because they became well known in America simultaneously).
Another anime mentioned by Drazen (2003) which made its historic debut was 'The Mighty Atom' better known as 'Astroboy'. This anime character was considered the 'Mickey Mouse' of Japan, his name was 'atom' but it was locally pronounced 'atomu'. Though the 1970's were not very productive, they did make some good animes in the genre of 'Mecha'. Amongst them one was 'Gatchaman' (later changed to G-force when it was aired in America). Another anime premiered during this period was 'Gundam' which again came under the genre of 'mecha' this manga was new as it contained a lot newer elements, some of which included climatic robot battles or robots combing to form another machine (Poitras, 2001, p. 20).
During the 1980's, was the time when anime bloomed into the world, which was known as the Golden Age of Anime. Famous Animes came to surface, which are considered to be some of the best animes of all time. There are a number of famous animes that could be mentioned but some of the more famous ones are 'Robotech'. Patten (2004, p. 76) mentions in his book that the creators of 'Robotech' Carl Macek and Jerry Beck of 'Harmony gold USA' and 'Tatsunoko Production Co., Ltd' of Japan played a huge role in not only making a successful anime but also helped in the development of an even larger American audience. Famous animes such as 'Akira' also played a key role in elevating anime in the world, with higher standards of storytelling and animation. This anime as Napier (2001) writes, had identity, structure, apocalypse a very good combination and these key ingredients enabled it to become number one at the box office in Japan. In fact the anime also beat the sci-fi hit Star Wars: Return of the Jedi during the time.
Later on in 1995, the anime 'Ghost in the shell' was released and was called the true cyberpunk film. This anime was given full dedication as plans were to air on the big screen after completion. Released by the same studio as Akira, this helped maintain the company's reputation as well. In 1997 when Pokemon was released, it spread to the western states. Pokemon dominated the TV channels during the earlier years of the 21st century. Pokemon changed its name many time over the years and also gained japans 'second largest domestic box office for an animated film' after the release of the new title Pokemon The Movie: Mew Vs. Mew-two. In the later years many other famous titles emerged such as 'Full metal Alchemist' which became a fan favorite during its time. As well as other animated films, Princess Mononoke being one of them, is an adaptation of an old Japanese folk tale turned into an anime. Princess Mononoke made a huge impact in both Japan and America. This also motivated actress Minnie Driver and actor Gillian Anderson to voice for characters in the English dubbing. Over the past years, anime has progressed radically, showing a very bright future for Japanese animation in the new century ahead as it creates a haven everywhere for its fans (Boyd & Nishimura, 2004).
Impact of Japanese Animation
Japanese animation has left a huge impact on those who have been exposed to it. Many agree with the fact that anime has affected them in a way which motivated them to change themselves. Some changes may include people taking up Japanese as a second language, take a liking to the Japanese cuisine, exploring a different culture and also meeting different people. Napier (2001) in her book looks at Japanese animation and how it has affected the west, America in particular. With the exposure of Japanese animation into America, there have been huge numbers of groups that have emerged. Japanese animations as mentioned before have a vast genre, which enables it to cater to a larger audience. Although Japanese Animations may have left some positive impacts on fans in America, some think otherwise. Jenkins (1992) mentions in his book about media fans and quotes: ''Fan' is derived of the word 'Fanatic', which has its roots in the Latin word 'fanaticus'.'
The word 'fanaticus' as Jenkins (1992) wrote in his book was referring to the meaning 'off or belonging to the temple, a temple servant, a devotee'. This lead to many negative implication of the word 'fan'. The main message which Jenkins wanted to put through was contradicting Napier (2001) point of view. People were getting too absorbed. They say fans often become anti-social and absorbed. He also concluded that it sometimes may not be the case as some media fans that he refers to in his book as 'Textual poachers' are fans who look at distinct dimensions and are often helpful in giving intellectual feed back to producers.
There have also been many speculations whether Japanese animations have stolen ideas from America or not, some assumptions were made by viewing the themes of Japanese animations (Napier 2001). There may be some minor similarities or influence of Hollywood in Japanese anime, but if one views any Japanese animation it can easily be concluded that this not true. Japanese animations are very distinct and have strong Japanese elements such as, mannerism of characters, the narrative structure and social values. Making it irrelevant to think anime or Japanese animations may be a stolen form (Napier, 2001).
Anime in America
During the 1940's anime was more focused towards younger audience, but that's what artists claimed, some of these were censored and often restricted because of propaganda. An example was like the anime 'Momotaro no Umiwashi' released in 1943. Endearing animals were engaged in battle with fleets of battle ships with Americans, reason for this being restricted in some places was because this was a sensitive issue after the Pearl Harbor incident. The biggest indication that this was a propagandistic work was because this was funded by the Ministry of Navy. Such animations obviously did not help gain viewers; on the other hand, progress was made with the animation techniques. (Poitras, 2001).
In the 1950's, anime managed to recover and prosper due to the fact that is was able to obtain capital and resources easily. It was then in the 1960's when anime as we know these days started to be released to the audience. One of the most famous manga artists 'Osumu Tezuka' founded the studio 'Mishi Productions'. They released their first animated title 'Aru Machikadono no Mongatari' (Translated: The story of a Street Corner). ). Due to the advancement and the increase of television viewers the potential market of anime increased. It was in 1963 when 'Mishi Productions' began airing its first TV anime ' Tetsuwan Atom' and soon after it was broadcasted by NBC in America. It was redubbed and its title was changed to a more localized name which later on turned world famous 'AstroBoy' (Poitras, 2001).
Osamu Tezuka's famous series 'Astro boy' was released to the American audience around the same time as its introduction to its Japanese viewers (Clements & McCarthy, 2006). Ladd & Deneroff (2009) mentioned in their book, the term 'Anime Tsunami' which fits what happened during these years of animes' rise in America. Along with some other titles such as 'voltron' and 'speed Racer'. Anime started to emerge on an even larger scale during the period when 'Robotech' was aired which was around the 1980's (Patten, 2004). Some may even say it was a stepping stone for anime in the Western market. It started off around the year of 1985 when it was aired as a TV series by 'Harmony Gold' and ending up to be a huge success, they released more episodes with a total of 65 episodes (Clements & McCarth, 2006). During this time anime was well on its way to being a huge part of the marketing decisions being made by the U.S, reason being the serious number of growth of fans. Some video store chains were known to supply redubbed versions of anime because of the increasing number of viewers (Poitras, 2001).
Anime has catered to a diverse range of age groups. From 1963 to 1968 famous animes such as 'Astro boy' and 'Speed Racer' were genre of anime clearly targeted towards a younger audience, that was alongside the famous American made cartoon 'Transformers'. The development of anime as an industry and as a fandom has been extraordinary, but it hasn't been smooth sailing. San Diego's Comic Con which was first held in 1970 starting off with just 300 people and in 2004 the number of people recorded were between 75,000 to 87,000. This goes to show the ever increasing fandom for anime (Brown, 2008). Susan J. Napier (2001) writes in her book that amongst the places in America that gave a surprise was an anime club in the University of Texas which had about 300 members. Not all the members were students, majority of the members were from outside the university and only 39.7 percent of those members were students. Austin, Texas was known for its high-tech industry and also for the majority of the locals who were engaged in computer programming. Thus the majority of the fans were engaged in anime very naturally because of their jobs. New York was not to far off, the 'Big Apple' was known to have a large number of respondents as well.
The platform anime is viewed on has changed drastically through the years by both technological and economical influences. Amongst the mediums it was television that started things off in the earlier years around the 1960's. In the later years as technology progressed and the arrival of home video players and Video Cassette Recorders (VCR) enabled producers to reach a whole new audience. Before these advancements the only mediums anime could be viewed on were theaters. It was then in the 1990's when the use of Satellite/cable was becoming more common. This was not only a way to reach a bigger audience but also cost effective for the studios which aired the shows, as only one copy of the show was required for it to be aired (Clements and McCarthy, 2006).
During these years as the growth of anime had been phenomenal, so had the growth of fans. Conventions were taking place all over America, universities being the main locations for the events. More and more fans lead to more channels on television dedicated to anime. 'Adult Swim' being one of those channels which aired some famous animes like, Schinchiro Watanabe's 'Cowboy Bebop' or Masashi Ikeda's 'Inuyasha' (Clements and McCarthy, 2006).
The most effective source of anime which had a major role in the growth in anime fandom was 'The Internet'. The internet allowed fans to have access to anime at their convenience, only a click away (Napier, 2001). Websites such as 'animetake' ( http://www.animetake.com ) are typical websites which have almost everything an anime fan needs, from free anime fan subbed episodes to forums where they can converse with other anime fans.
There were some problems which came to surface which concerned legal issues. An example is of subgroups, Brown (2001) mentioned in his book about anime being translated by anime fans for anime fans. This started off mainly because some genres that were favored by a minority and not subbed because they were not popular, mainly 'ShÅ?jo' (Genre aimed at teenage girls). Later on as many others started to fansub famous animes, the produces took this on as an advantage to see how the anime will fair in the American market. As this became a hot topic and discussions of the ethics of making fansubs were brought into question there were still those who may have wanted to profit from this, but there was a majority in groups of fansubbers who made clear their principle of not profiting from these copyright violation and making it available for fans at the same cost (Brown, 2001).
There were often assumptions about fans being too absorbed into anime. Brown(2001) writes about people who make fansubs for other anime fans and also mentioning a couple who owned Tomodachi Anime Group based in America which is now obsolete, losting an estimate of 10,000 $ pursuing their passion. Does this make them fans or Fanatics? Jenkins (1992) who writes in his book about fans and questioning whether they are fans or fanatics? As some of these individuals practically lock themselves up in their basement and get out of sync with reality or become socially maladjusted.
Globalization and culture
A survey conducted by Held and McGrew (2000: 3) declared that: 'no singe universally accepted definition of globalization exists'. Kearney (1995) says it is social relations that form a connection with other areas across the world which cause changes in local areas because of the events taking place elsewhere and vice versa. Steger (2010) writes that globalization has been traced back in history but was only until recently the public realize the process of globalization. Throughout the years many definitions have been brought forward. One of them by Giddens (1990) defined globalization as 'As the intensification of the world-wide social relation, which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa' (1990, p. 64)
There are Scholars who believe consequences from globalization are complex forms of interaction and interdependency (Rantanen, 2005). Rantanen (2005) wrote in his book saying Thompson (1995) focused more on media and culture and also had similar views as Giddens (1990). Thompson (1995) mentioned 'Globalizationâ€¦refers to the growing interconnections of different parts of the world, a process which gives rise to complex forms of interaction and interdependencies' (1995, p. 149).
Waters (1995) and Robertson (1992) were amongst those who would stress that globalization was experienced through the consciousness, which in other words meant people would experience globalization through their own awareness instead of social relations. Waters (1995) states that 'globalization is a social process in which the constraints of geography on social and cultural arrangements recede and in which people become increasingly aware that they are receding' (1995, p. 3).
Rantanen (2005) writes in his book that globalization according to theorists is not possible without Media and communication. Along with the progression of globalization the lives of many in Asia and North America have enhanced. Despite the assumptions by media theorists and scholars, universally there is no concrete explanation to define globalization. To conclude the term globalization, this term does not have any solid foundation, because it could mean otherwise depending on the environment. On the other had there are those who are skeptics like Hirst and Thompson (1999) who in their book write about how the possibilities of controlling international economy is hopeless.
Many Scholars conclude that globalization may result either to heterogenization or homogenization. Mooney and Evans (2007) write in their book about homogenization, saying it basically means things becoming one. There are many environments that could be effected such as political, cultural practices, languages, consumer products, ideologies, media, and all forms of entertainment. There are many mediums and sources which made this possible, internet being one of the most effective. Many scholars who defined globalization would sometimes imply homogenization. Amongst those scholars one was Albrow (1990). In his work he came to the conclusion that the whole population of the world is incorporated as one massive society. 'Globalization Refers to all those processes by which the people of the world are incorporated into a single world society, global society' (Albrow, 1990, p 45). Although Albrow (1990) defined globalization as being homogenized, but there are theorists who contested his views.
Lull (2000, p 233) differs that globalization would lead to heterogenization. He believes that no matter what medium it may be, even if its modern technology, with its efficiency to reach a mass audience, it in no way has influenced the population into becoming a single community and it never will (Rantanen, 2005). Rantanen (2005) mentions in his book, people amongst those who criticize heterogenization often object to the strength that is being given to the general public; disregarding the global media's economic power. Neglecting that the large media firm's location is in the U.S. and lastly ignoring the fact that there is discrepancy in portions of the audience's access to the media.
Anheier and Isar (2007) argue that cultural imperialism is spread through powerful, influential countries that have a strong culture. Anheier and Isar (2007) refer to these areas as core of the world culture systems and then those countries that are poor and are less developed eventually end up absorbing from those that are core of the world culture system. Cultural imperialism is categorized as being homogeneous in the theory brought forward by the writers about cultural imperialism assumes this process as homogeneous. Reason being the mass audience who are exposed to these cultures accept and absorb the other culture of other countries which are mentioned in the book as the 'core of the world cultural system' almost instinctively (Anheier and Isar, 2007). In support, Fejes (1981) assessment in which he, after evaluation of a specific area turned to the issue of media imperialism and its effects on cultures, saying it causes change to the third world countries cultures. From what Fejes (1981) mentioned, we can gather that the media worldwide which are owned by the dominant countries control what the audiences watch. All Shows, News, Advertisements aired by those media groups who dominate, drastically alters most cultural ideals of the third world countries by the output which is hugely generic to the dominant, may it be superiority economically (Tomlinson, 2001) or, as Anheier and Isar(2007) mentioned , those who are 'core of the Cultural system'. Hesmondhalgh and Toynbee (2008) write in their book about the 'WTO (World Trade Organization)' Treaty and taking out one of the 28 agreements from 1994 which was 'TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement)'. Some of the countries that were members had to eventually change laws or practices as it was necessary to follow the rules or principles of the organization. The agreement of 'TRIPS' state these steps as necessary for artists in countries who wish to protect their work or their creativity from misuse. In compliance with 'TRIPS', some countries may have to make major changes in some of their countries polices. Hesmondhalgh and Toynbee (2008) state these developments can be taken as 'imperialism in the form of culture'.
However, Sparks (2007) debates aside from the fact that cultural imperialism is used for academic purposes but when it comes to politics, there are problems that arise. Pendakaur (1990, p 167) wrote about a group of workers and some small capitalists who had the aim to gain the national control of the Canadian cinema. On the other hand there were the eminent capitalists who were the current owners of the national theatre chains. They wanted to maintain their current standings and keep in control of their current position (Sparks, 2007). What Pendakaur explains what Sparks mentions in his book about those who are dominant. Though these dominant entities might want to gain control, the majority would desire to maintain the current environment as it is (Sparks, 2007). Then there is also the term 'reverse flow' which Barker (1997) mentions in his book. Among the examples were about reggae music, ethnic food and clothing the acceptance of other cultures in the western countries and making an impact on their culture (Barker, 1997).
Chapter 3: Case Study
To evaluate how anime or Japanese animations were perceived by the west specifically America we look at the Anime Robotech which in 1984 was called Macross. 'the Robotech phenomenon is a curious hybrid of Japanese animation and American ambition'(Clements and McCarthy, 2006). Released in 1985 by the studio Harmony Gold USA and Tatsunoko Production an animated film studio based in Tokyo, Japan. This anime was adapted from three separate Mecha Japanese animes namely Macross, Southern Cross, and Mospeada, reasons being that inorder to be broadcasted they had to have a minimum of 65 episode , thus Harmony Gold formed a co-licensing agreement with these three animes. The brainchild behind the story of 'Robotech' was the writer Carl Macek. Macek edited almost all of the content and changed the dialogue to get the anime tailored to the story of Robotech. The names of some of the characters in Robotech were also altered to appeal to the American and international audience, including the name of the protagonist who in America he was named 'Rick Hunter' while in Japan he was called 'Hikaru Ichijo'.
The Basic storyline of the anime Robotech is based in the year 1999. A giant Alien Battle Cruiser crashes on earth which enables the entire human race to unite and work together in case a scenario where the aliens come to retrieve their ship should arise. Ten Years later, reconstruction of the battle spaceship now named the SDF-1 was still underway when the aliens named the Zentraedi invade earth to retrieve their ship. In an attempt to save earth, the SDF-1 fires the 'Spacefold Drive' an untested weapon which transports them into deep space, there the prolonged battle against the Zentraedi takes place. Rick Hunter is the main character of the anime who has a complex relationship with two main female characters, the ships officer Lisa Hayes and a singer Lynn Minmay. Events lead to many tragedies and loss of many main characters (Clements and McCarthy, 2006).
15 years later Rick Hunter along with the SDF-3 carry on their voyage in space but the story changes with the 'Robotech masters saga' as they set off in search of the world of Robotech masters. The Robotech masters on the other hand are well on their way towards earth, were they attack in search of their 'protoculture factory'. The main character of the story is Dana Sterling who is the offspring of the first interspecies marriage. She along with her comrades try to save earth, but eventually a man on the opposing side having unclear motives destroys his own culture to save them (Clements and McCarthy, 2006).
The story continues after this second Robotech war and before the third season. Aliens known as the 'Invid' conquer earth but the inhabitants are too worn out from the battles to fight back. A generation later the main character named 'Scott Bernard' with his reinforcements tries to liberate earth. All seems lost when eventually they manage to come into contact with 'Admiral Rick Hunter' and with his space fleet, giving earth a ray of hope (Clements and McCarthy, 2006).
Looking at Robotech and its penetration into America, Robotech as mention by Clements and McCarthy (2006) is an American and Japanese hybrid. Macross was brought to the U.S in 1984 then later on released as Robotech in 1985, the name was also changed to Robotech in the same year. Robotech was made from three purely Japanese animes namely Macros, Southern Cross, and Mospeada. These animes were co-licensed by Harmony Gold and then were completely re-edited. The stories and dialogues were completely changed by Carl Macek. There were subtle name change for some characters but there were also some dramatic changes to some of the other names, for example Miss Hayase was changed to Lisa Hayes and the name of the protagonist was also changed from Hikaru Ichijo to Rick Hunter, mainly to appeal to the American and international markets. All these changes made by Harmony Gold show clear signs of cultural imperialism. They took pure Japanese anime, completely changed the story by an American writer. There were often arguments about how anime after penetrating America started to spread the Japanese culture and colonize America. One of the reasons is, anime having strong Japanese cultural content. But looking at Robotech, how Harmony Gold took Japanese anime and made it their own, we can clearly see, that is not the case here (Lau, 2003). Another example can be of the famous Anime Mach Go Go Go, originally released in Japan and aired on American TV in 1967 as Speed Racer. It was considerably changed as the writer Peter Fernandez was given the job of toning down the Japanese version to an American version. They started off by changing the name to Speed Racer. They made a point to remove any type of violence or deaths of villains by making revolving stars around their heads to make it more humorous. They changed the names for the characters as well, changing the name of the protagonist Go Mifune to Speed (Clements and McCarthy, 2006). There were major changes made to the anime as they came to America, but in no way had this influenced the anime industry in any major way (Brown, 2008).
Speed Racer Mach Go Go Go Hardcover Box Set.jpg speed_racer.jpg
On the other hand there are those who would say anime is an example of “cultural imperialism in reverse” (Newitz, ). There were talks about how anime made the American fans dependent or disempowered and being totally entranced in the world of anime. It is often mentioned that anime protagonist’s cross gender lines. An example of the speculations made on the anime Renma ½ , an anime in which the protagonist would change into a girl after being exposed to cold water. It was a known fact that majority of the audience of anime was male in America, thus this would cause a serious issue of gender identity especially masculine identity, women in anime would often be shown as being overpowering over the male gender as well.
Many anime before being aired in America were changed or edited considerably to cater to the local audience, this on the other hand had a reverse effect as mentioned by Newits(). The animated cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender was produced by a purely American production company Nickelodeon Animation which was aired in 2005. The genre of the anime comes in action, adventure, fantasy, comedy, drama and many more. The story revolves around the protagonist Aang who must defeat the Fire Lord in order to save the world and end a destructive war. There are four nations who control the four elements Fire, wind, water and earth. Aang is the ”Avatar” who is able to control all the four elements and is born once every hundred years. The cartoon utilized a lot of anime attributes and incorporates different types of fighting styles throughout the cartoon. The basic drawing of the cartoon gives clear indications of influence of anime. The Characters themselves are dressed what look like altered samurai clothing. The detail of the way characters eat or drink their green tea and even sleep give a clear indication of the Japanese culture. The facial expressions of the characters, the iconic anime eyes are clear giveaway of adaptation of Japanese animation. This anime clearly shows “cultural imperialism in reverse” as mentioned by Newitz ().
After Anime penetrated the western market it made a massive impact and influenced the audience on a whole new level. Most animes have a strong connection to the Japanese culture which also lead viewers to take more interest into cultures from other nations. Amongst the influential traits that anime has one of them is art. Research has been conducted of many anime fans to ask what their views on anime. Participants who were asked responded, anime enabled them to learn about the Japanese culture in fact during the process they took up Japanese as a language. The process also helped many in the community to make new friends, travel to different cities and even had some develop a taste for Japanese cuisine (Napier, 2001). Spread of Japanese anime also spiked the interest of mergers, partnerships and even media corporations. Many often would praise the animation difference between an anime and an American cartoon. Anime has influenced Hollywood as well, the famous movie The Matrix (1999) was based on the anime film Ghost in the Shell (1995). Speed racer (2008) is also another example of these developments. Animes skyrocketing progress in America allowed anime to have a cable channel dedicated to showing anime 24/7 directly from Japan for the American audience. There were also a dozen other channels broadcasting anime titles. Anime also had a major effect on American films as it influenced their visual style (D’Anieri, 2009). Disney in 1996 made a deal with japans famous animation studio, Studio Ghibli, to distribute its products in the west, specifically America and Canada (Napier, 2001). Some who find anime art interesting like directors would adopt ideas and implement them into the video’s they make. Anime has achieved popularity to such an extent that they had toy give away of Pokémon in Kentucky Fried Chicken. Even though anime has been very influential in the western world and has made a huge impact on its audience, making them take interest in other cultures, like eating sushi. But are they really being brainwashed? Is anime influencing the audience? Most fans hardly ever approach the Japanese source of their media. Unlike other American fans of native series or shows, they hardly ever bother to collaborate with the directors or writers to resist cancelation of a show they like. A few comments of anger are almost about all they would do. But the fact of the matter is this, reality is much more complicated. Although anime has a strong connection with Japanese culture, being a fan of anime in no way changes the character, personality or culture of its fans. “Neither a complete resistance to rejoice about nor a complete loss of identity to despair about, but a complex contradiction of both continuity and change” (Straubhaar, 2007)
On the other hand there are those who believe that anime leads to homogenization, fans become too obsessed. As previously mentioned in chapter 1, Jenkins (1992) writes in his book the word “fanaticus” which meant belonging to the temple or being a devotee. Jenkins (1992) argues saying fans become too obsessed, they become mindless consumers who would buy almost about anything associated to the program or its cast. Dedicate themselves in acquire knowledge with no worth to anyone. They are often so engrossed into their own world and are not able to separate fantasy from reality. Because they hardly ever socialize with anyone outside their own community they become social misfits, so possessed by their favorite show it barricades them from other social experiences resulting in them acting childish and are often emotionally and intellectually immature. Jenkins (1992) also motioned, fans with their close commitment cause them to become desexualized. There were many fans who were too engrossed in the world of anime and couldn’t make any friends as they had no social skills. They had a hard time to communicate with anyone out of their social circle. Because anime was available at the luxury of their own house, many would avoid going out. Occasions for which they would look forward to would mostly be events hosted by people of the same community. All the negativity from individuals who looked down them, led them to being only dependent on those in the same social circle. They started to substitute the people from their community as their family. These communities would treat them as one of their own and make them feel that they were actually a family. They would often spend weekends together where they would sleep, eat, party, talk and watch anime. These activities themselves created a family feeling between them, a family that did not judge them for what they would do in their spare time or what they spend their money on. Thus making them fanaticize as if every this in their world was perfect (Napier, 2001)
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