This research paper will analyze and discuss the influence of animation (anime) that began in Japan. The popularity of anime became part of Japan's cultural intake that took interest in many parts of the world. Articles provided will highlight countries like the U.S who took interest in marketing the anime sensation like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Toys R. US, etc. Animation was a strong bridge that connected two different cultures to take interest into one thing. The United States and Japan have been two major investors in the animation community market. Both countries have advocated and expanded the interest of anime into their society and continued to make the interest grow amongst children and adults.
Anime started back in the 1970s, when multiple filmmakers emerged and created different genre scenes and sub-ideas relating to war itself. (Crow, 1931) Most ideas were commercially used, while other anime slowly grew into different corporation companies such as Kyoto Animation, and A-1 Pictures. In the beginning, there were not a lot of success within the businesses as they lacked a variety of exposures in the entertainment world.
Within the research article there are also different background features that will be presented. Anime became a focus point on the market to help economic sales growth, and promote entertainment, and merchandise products. Anime, later on also became known as a type of art, giving some notice to creators. Companies like Good Smile Company, and Alter started to then expand and created multiple merchandise such as anime figurines, sigma, and PVC Statues. As both the United States and Japan focus on how anime has increased in the economic environment, Japan was able to get exposed to similar media cultures from countries like China and Korea. This research paper will display how Japan empathize the role anime has on the economic sales success.
Japanese animation or anime is a popular media entertainment spreading throughout the U.S, and other major countries. Anime is the most popular among Japanese adults, and young adults as the audience are not directly pointed to younger children. The origin of Japanese animation started with Namakura Gatana, also known as Hanawa Hekonai, which is a short Japanese animated film produced by Jun'ichi Kouchi back in 1917. The animation incorporated Japanese society traditions before the first World War had even started (Crow, Jonathan). As anime grew in the marketing business as major entertainment, the U.S began to also mobilize their economic interest in anime. According to Frederik Schodt's book, Manga Manga: The World of Japanese Comics, those that did not cooperate with paying government demands during World War II were punished by the
["preventive detention, bans on writing, and social ostracism, while those who recanted were rewarded with rehabilitation programs and support from the community...artists who had spent most of their lives criticizing the government did an about-face and offered wholehearted support to the militarists" ] (Schodt, 55). During the early 1900s, silent movies and animated films were produced and performed with narrators describing each scene. Folklore films were also introduced as the audience wanted a more suspenseful film, creating variety in the movie-making business.
As technology expanded throughout the mid 1990s, and television show ratings increased, the demands for Japanese anime increased as well in the market, creating the economic system grow in the “golden age of Japanese animation” (Otmazgin). In 1940, many cartoon artists, filmmakers, and other media artists had formed organizations such as the New Cartoonists Association of Japan (Shin Nippon Mangaka Kyokai). During that time, the government in Japan began using other cartoon artists who were not yet banned to influence individuals on making advertisements to use against other nations. However, the following years, Japan later made budget cuts in the animation productions as to establish more steel production. Due to the change, and low-quality animation films, the market dropped rapidly (Otmazgin). When war ceased between Japan, the U.S and other countries; Japan's economy had a major collapse, causing the public to be unstable, and distraught on how to restore their economy due to their economic losses. During this time, animation companies produced small entertainment films to help slowly build and reconstruct their economy promoting their animation to other nations.
In about every anime-media production, there were a variety of consumer differences depending on the audience the corporations were investing in. Certain animation companies were always having to adapt to generate a variety of genres in anime and be able to target consumers in marketing sales during the scarce amount of resources Japan had after World War II. Most of Japan's consumers wanted a more ‘mature' level on anime in their media, and different ideas of personalities of the characters, which industries adapted to in order to help their market value grow (Otmazgin). A company known as Toei was known as the first color animation in Japan showing anime between 1907 and 1923. Their first hit film showed in Japan in 1896 but did not flourish into the culture until 1910. Katsudo Shashin was told to be the first anime, and the first moving picture in Japan to be published. Toei Animation became "the pioneer of Japanese animation" (Toei Animation Site). Toei Animation was founded by Kenzō Masaoka and Zenjirō Yamamoto back in 1948. In 1956, the studio was then purchased, and renamed to Toei Doga Company. Toei Animations produced multiple anime versions from different manga artist. Other similar companies such as Disney studios later on incorporated music into their animation as well as similar concepts by the influence of Japan's animation companies. In today's society Japan has been expanding its productions globally and, in the process, successful increased economically. One of the biggest consumers of Japan's anime production sites is the American markets, which spends approximately four-billion dollars in sales since 2003 (Otmazgin).
Although, since the war era, other countries may still have concerns and questions on how Japan used animation to establish their economic strength as appose to just entertainment marketing. Japan being well-known for their variety of anime films, were able to meet consumer's demands in the entertainment business, promoting, producing, and providing merchandise, cost plays, and gaming experiences which became major assets in the technology world and sales markets. By this, it led to the perception of Japan's Soft Power and other countries in turn began to respond. Furthermore, by identifying other research in regard to education the audiences about globalization and the effects it has, the readers were able to understand more about Japan's identity role on the influence of anime towards other countries.
In animation, companies are always having to adapt in order to generate a variety of genres in anime, and at the same time be able to target consumers in marketing sales. Dekokobo Friends, in particular is a well-known anime in Japan that have characters with different concepts that consumers are always wanting to see in entertainment shows (Condry, 147). Dekokobo Friends contains individual characters who are trying to befriend each other even if their looks may be oddly characterized. Each episode tends to create and introduce new characters with different challenges that the characters face as a group (Condry 148). In Japan's anime, presenting characters of odd traits or being able to surprise the audience is the company's abilities to keep entertaining the consumers, especially a younger audience.
Other factors may be the difference in themes that allows the audience to experience new things such as the look-and-feel references (Condry 152). For example, the world of Zenmai Zamurai is about a village that contains no electricity and their only way to adapt to the environment is by mechanically operating the systems each day. Each character has certain jobs to perform that create a particular motion of the setting, which gives the audience a sensation of suspense an attraction towards the film as they are wanting to understand more of the theme and concept (Condry 153). Another example of is the debut of anime writer, Osaka Tezuka, also known as the “god of manga”. Osaka Tezuka had used many comic book strips to display and revolutionized the different genres from drama, romance, science-fiction, and creating books and other visual entertainment that awed the readers and viewers. In 1963, Tezuka had published Tetsuwan Atom, which became the nation's first tv weekly anime series in Japan, which in turn became a classic hit in the United States known as Astro Boy.
On a different level, anime companies and industries targeted different age groups to have a wider range of audiences to increase their successful rate. Manga, another type of anime, although written in book or online form is also globally popular. Just like anime series or movies, manga varies in audiences. Boys Love, is an example of manga that focuses on homosexual relationships and how genre promotes underage characters (Zanghellini 158). The Fruit Basket, is another example of a manga or anime that focuses on relationships and sexuality, causing the interest of viewers of certain age. Due to the high interest of censored films in anime, companies tend to target teenagers, as most animations are influence on the interest of young adults (Zanghellini 166).
Another factor that contributes to Japan's economic growth success is enabling other foreign countries to understand the animated film by using subbed or dubbed language. The use of the language allows the film to be translated other countries in different forms of ‘notes' and translation subtitles (Gonzalez 270). Enabling the audience to view the anime within their own comfort, allows the viewers to understand the theme of the film and the storyline behind it. Enabling the dubbed language gives promotes the interests of other countries wanting to view the animated film or manga. Gonzalez's article further explains how subbed/dubbed languages, “impose their own linguistic and cultural mediation strategies” (Gonzalez 273). This factor allows Japan to adapt to other consumer's demands and expand their sales market to other areas, expanding the industries markets, and strengthening Japan's economic system.
Not only has Japan continue to rise in film-making, but also in retail; creating different merchandise to sell all over the globe. Japanese animation takes advantage of their high ratings of anime films and manga stories dominating American cartoon industries from movie distributors to toy manufacturing companies selling action figurines (Daliot-Bul 77). The main audience, anime companies would try to target are children who stayed home and watch cartoons until their parents would arrive home. Being able to “interact” with their favorite anime cartoon characters in the form of toys or being cosplay also helped make an impact on Anime's economic success; increasing the sales rapidly (Winge 68). All over the world, cosplay fans have been gathering in conventions to show their passion and affection for manga and anime. Cosplay fans in Japan are referred to as Otaku, where the individuals are dressed in costumes of their favorite anime character. Some fans may even perform shows at conventions as an anime or manga character, transforming themselves as if it was their identity (Richie 2003). During these events, cosplayers are able to gather around a engage their interest in anime together and discuss the similar personalities and preferences (Winge 65). Events such as cosplay conventions help exploit anime visual experiences, resulting in a more intimate connection with animation. With companies trying to gain popularity, media becomes another contributing form that helps expand the anime industry. As the internet is a global sensation, it helps create a wider profit industry.
As Japan seeks other opportunities to promote anime merchandise, they are also progressing in other economic strengths such as technology, in ways that evolve the gaming development and experiences. Japan has also created more anime-based logo productions to promote and sell their merchandise, such as Sailor Moon items, Dragon Ball Z outlet stores, Hello Kitty stores and food truck chains, and other anime-based businesses like arcades. Manga or Japanese comic art have become a lucrative business. Nowadays, anime items are exported among other countries, influencing the popular culture with children, and young adults. Manga and anime art include the “history, language, culture, politics, economy, family, religions, sex and gender, education, crime, and demographics that all reflect Japanese society” (Kinki Ito 456). Japanese manga also displays beliefs, rituals, traditions, fantasies, and other social phenomena that pertain to the Japanese society. Visual characteristics of anime also factor into viewers interest as the appeal it draws them towards. For example, Pokémon is known as both an appealing visual anime cartoon, as well as a videogame that children and adults can interact with (Choo). Pokémon was created by the Nintendo Gaming Company, giving a ‘real-world' experience, where individuals can capture Pokémon creatures and train them to fight battles in order to gain recognition. When the invention of the Pokémon Go app was created, anime fans were able to go out to parks, stores, and museums all around their communities and other parts of the world to capture ‘real-life' Pokémon creatures. With the invention on the realistic version of Pokémon, Japan was able to benefit from the global sensational hit the app received (Henry Laurence). Anime gaming has become one of the biggest innovations in Japan's economic growth ranging from a variety of realistic technology, allowing their consumers to engage in their passion. With the creative industry ideas coming out in play globally, movies, television shows, music, gaming systems, and other technology inventions are becoming above-average in the world exports, generating broader national benefits; including tourism and diplomatic soft power (Henry Laurence).
Along with Pokémon and other anime cartoons, Studio Ghibli, the founder of Hayao Miyazaki is another contributing factor in the expansion of anime on the global map. According to Nihon Animation, also known as “Power of Japanese Animation” written by Nobuyuki Tsugata, states how an animated film called Nausicaa of the Wind, released in 1984 changed the way anime was viewed all over. Due to the elaborated storyline of the production, the anime was able to raise the status of the creators and praised overseas (Kazuaki Nagata). Takamasa Sakurai, an anime expert also contributed in the education of anime history around the world, holding lectures and describing how the anime genre is accepted globally because of its unconventional nature.
By identifying the contributing factors of how Japan's economic success grew, it also shows how their economy power came to. Japan until today can be seen as one of the most powerful countries in regard to technology advancements. Several concepts have been identified in Japan's globalization based on empirical, and ethnographic data. The term “soft power” comes from the concept of Japan's cultural attraction in appose to their economic strength. As anime started to be established throughout the world, Japan continues to keep promoting their cultural ideologies into the mix; and “Japan's economic power peak and… soft power comes to play (Lam 355).
During the cold war, Japan had to reconstruct their economic power, and establish new grounds to build their economy globally. Soft power was their definition of cultural freedom and limiting foreign influences (Lam 359). Manga have been displaying the changes in political currents of Japan society, and the sensitivity of their political ideology. Manga's similar parts of pop music in the Anglo-American cultural sphere, has some aesthetic roots since the pre-war folk culture, and have since been developed by early pioneers during the 1950s (Sharon Kinsella 4). In 1967, manga was defined as ‘border art', as it was viewed as a democratic medium accessible by cultural amateurs transgressing the boundaries of low and high culture (Tsurumi 1967). In other words, the manga industry became an ‘iron system', operating within a managed society and economy. The instability of adult manga production reflected on some of Japan's power that have taken place between different areas of the post-war society (Kurihara 133). With that said, within the globalized world, there is still challenges for Japan's own identity in cultural idealism and implementing those characteristics into their anime.
In conclusion, Japan's anime culture had influence other countries like the US, China, South Korea, and Europe. The creation of anime helped impact foreign companies like Walt Disney, Pixar, Studio Ghibli, Framestore, and Toei Animation to take the similar routes for marketable purpose gain and diversity. Walt Disney, one of the biggest animation companies in United States, eventually launch two of their first culturally diverse movies, “Big Hero 6”, and “Moana” resulting in a big beneficial hit in the movie industry. Big Hero 6 was set particularly in Tokyo, with a twist an ‘American setting'. Every character in the movie had a diverse ethnic background (Lewis). In Moana, the movie was based on Hawaiian and Polynesian decent, and the culture. Both movies showed how Japanese animation impacted different cultures and recognized how countries are emerging into one similar background, both socially and economically. By 2011, Japan's net import of different varieties of anime from movies, to comic books had increased to 70 billion yen. Japan's market environment in anime became a part of the Japanese culture, and a global economic power among modern entertainment, and increased popularity with the younger generations and other cultures. By emphasizing and focusing on the economic sides of anime contribution, Japan grows closer to exposing other countries' cultures, ideas and practices. This is essential because Japan is one of the countries that promotes economic collaboration and cultural backgrounds such as in movie industries. Overall, anime markets both in Japan and countries like the U.S continue to explore and create new initiative ideas in anime, and other transnational productions, and evolving their economic state. (Otmazgin).
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