How Has Japanese Anime Influenced the World?

  • OTAKU
  • CULTURE
  • Japan is a country that is well known and well loved for its many aspects of unique and interesting culture. These can include its long and bloody history or long-standing traditions that have withstood the test of time such as geishas, the tea ceremony, and various ancient festivals. It can also apply to the many types of behaviour that are considered unique or unusual by people from other parts of the world, such as loudly slurping noodles, cramming onto packed trains, or giving children money at New Year.

    There are many things in Japan that you can’t find in other countries, making it an exciting place to visit where you can make some unforgettable memories. Lots of these cultures’ fame have spread worldwide, piquing foreigners’ curiosity and encouraging them to visit and experience it for themselves. Japan has also made a lot of contributions to the world over the years with developments such as cars, video games, and fashion.

    One of Japan’s greatest contributions that is still iconic to this day is none other than what most people would refer to as “anime”. Anime, which originally came from the English word “animation”, has contributed so much that people all around the world who love any genre of it feel the overpowering need to go and visit the country of its origin, and sometimes even learn Japanese. How has anime had an impact on society? How has anime influenced Japanese culture, and how has it influenced western culture?

    What exactly 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 TV series for children, but also adult’s TV shows and even movies. A few examples of blockbuster anime movies include Studio Ghibli’s highly acclaimed Spirited Away (2001) or the recent popular hit Your Name (2016).

    Drawing styles vary depending on artists, but anime characters are usually recognizable by their large eyes, often colorful hair, and small nose and mouth. In Japan, people of all ages and from all walks of life have watched some form of anime at some point and it has become part of their modern culture. Anime series are usually filled with interesting characters along with a captivating story that can make the viewer laugh or cry.

    Anime also covers a huge range of genres, including drama, romance, horror, and science-fiction. Some anime shows even have more unusual genres such as cyberpunk and mecha (featuring robots). In western countries, anime is seen not only as a Japanese series of animation but it has also come to define an art style that the Japanese use as well.

    How has anime influenced Japan?

    Japanese culture can be seen in many anime TV shows. High schools are similar to that in real life, and characters often eat with chopsticks and stay in traditional ryokan inns. Popular anime characters can be seen all over Japan on toys, t-shirts, accessories, and 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 fanbase and people even go to her live concert! 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 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”. The term “cosplay” is derived from the words “costume play”, and it 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 has adapted this art style is the Avatar: The Last Airbender, which has gained international success. A sequel was also made entitled The Legend of Korra.

    Anime in Other Countries

    One of the more popular examples of a western-made series is RWBY. RWBY (pronounced as “ruby”) 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 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.

    *Featured Image: jp.fotolia.com/