Manga and Anime Essay Example


Manga and Anime

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During the 1900’s, a specific Japanese style of comics originated and is referred to as the modern day ‘Manga’. Ever since then, Japanese Manga skyrocketed in popularity and it has now become a household name both domestically as well as internationally because of the global demand in the business markets. This genre style has become so popular in Japanese circles that it is read by one and all alike – men, women and children of various age groups. In fact, even serious businessmen are seen reading these comic books when they find time commuting from one place to another. In other words we could say that the Manga genre is universally accepted by people from different walks of life.

‘Anime’ is the abbreviation of the word animation and is extremely popular in Japan. In fact, its popularity is so widespread that it has become an international phenomenon and is being translated into a number of languages and has a fan following that runs into millions. For the past couple of decades Japan has produced anime, which are animated cartoons for Television, films and other media which has attracted the young and old alike. In fact, there is a complete generation of viewers who have grown up with anime and now pass it on to their children due to its widespread acceptance and popularity. This local product of Japan has a unique style and feel, not only where the art-work is concerned, but also for the special themes, concepts and the uniqueness of its storytelling narration. In this essay, I would be discussing the category of ‘Anime’ and try to investigate what makes it so popular and internationally acceptable.

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Japan, which is the primary origin of these media, is well reputed for both these styles. While ‘Manga’ corresponds to the print media such as books, “Anime’ corresponds to the animated comics which are very popular in Eastern culture. However, though these media have gained international fame, yet, the genres of both ‘Manga’ and ‘Anime’ are well preserved by the Japanese, placing them a cut- above the rest of the world’s publications. In making a comparison between the characters used in different animated series of the East and the West, we could say that the animation of the East, particularly the anime of Japan, has a clear and distinctive style of its own. For Example, the animation of Western societies such as the American Walt Disney series, of the 1920’s, such as Spider Man, Batman and ‘The Lion King’ (1994) (Yasue Kuwahara, 1997) which did quite well in business circles, is quite different from the anime comics of Japan. There is not one but many differences that contribute towards making this style so unique.

One of the chief differences in animation work is the Artwork style that is not only outlandish but increasingly flamboyant in presentation. However, artwork can also be simplistic with a very basic presentation, but yet, could be quite impressive and striking. Whatever type of artwork is used for the animation, Japanese anime manages to project a new and fresh appearance to the narration. Whether simple or exaggerated, each style has its own huge viewership comprising of all age groups and all walks of life, both nationally as well as internationally.

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Story-telling is another art which lends distinction to other animation works. In this regard, ‘Anime’ makes use of different styles to create an impact in a story. Even stories involving great epics are so well presented that it captures the undivided attention of the

viewer. Some of these storylines are so much in demand that it runs into several hundreds of episodes and yet, manages to stay so popular among its viewers. This is because the story is not only so well written but it is also made exceedingly interesting by the way it is presented to the audience. Another striking feature of the anime storyline is that it is deeply steeped in emotional content and therefore forces the viewer knowingly or unknowingly to get emotionally involved in it. This feature is especially notable where children, irrespective of age or gender are concerned.

The canvas on which the anime presentation is developed is very wide that it allows its audience to feel connected to it in some way or the other because it reflects a variety of interests and situations. This wide range is categorized into different groups in the anime series such as romantic comedy like as in ‘Fruits Basket’ hard SF like ‘Planetes’, the stand alone Complex such as in the story of ‘Nana’ depicting the empowerment of the female, the CSI storyline style portraying crime fighting such as the story of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ and besides these we also have Classic stories like ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ belonging to the literature series.

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Cultural nuances too play a major role in the anime series and as such depict the Language, customs and history of Japan. A few of the anime stories have a world view adaptation, but nevertheless have traces of Japanese sensibility or social appeal. Hence anime has gone a long way in influencing some of the quite recent American productions

in animation such as ‘Avatar’ and has served to encourage and influence the English- language versions of traditional titles of anime. Some of the characters of the anime series have become so popular that they are used as image representatives for the promotion of various products around the world. A good example of such advertisement is the character of ‘Astro- Boy’ which is one of the most impressive Japanese anime characters used by the Chinese for the promotion of Casio’s Calculator Products. This goes to show that there is an expressive anime culture existing in China too and therefore the authorities of China have taken stringent steps to safeguard the animation industry of China.

Animation is a genre by itself but can be categorized according to their content. Some of these categories are drama, comedy, horror, Sci-Fi and also action- adventure. All anime series are not suited to all types of audiences. Some anime presentations are aimed at younger audiences such as ‘Pokemon’ or ‘Doraemon’, while some target the teenage audiences such as ‘Inu Yasha’ and others target a more mature or older audience like in ‘Queen’s Blade’ etc. however, these categories are not limited to a particular audience based on their requirements or tastes. According to (Ge 2009) the super-star status of

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‘Doraemon’, the blue cat became so popular that the Japanese Government made it the official anime ambassador of the nation in 2008. (Richmond, 2009:17)

Japanese animation began as early as 1917 and has progressed abundantly over the decades. Presently, Japan is believed to be the center of the Anime world and quite unlike the U.S who consider that comics are not for adults, the Japanese anime caters to a wide range of people from children to elders offering a wide range of products comprising of romance, comedy, good over evil, ancient classics and folk tales to unforbidden love. Their animation style comprises of vibrant and energetic characters, lively and colorful graphics and a wide range of extremely interesting themes. Japanese anime comprises of computer or hand- drawn images that has gained world-wide recognition by broadcasting the same on television, film, videos, video- games, commercials and also by airing it online.

The story themes of Japanese anime comprise of ancient historical themes of Japan, themes from classical literature, fantasy, supernatural, heroism, humor or comedy, love and romance, human courage and endurance and even from folk tales and legends. Among the anime series, I have chosen to discuss ‘fantasy’ and how this genre is used by the Japanese. Fantasy is an incredibly compelling genre that tends to carry its audiences into a whole new world by the amazing technique of style color and lighting they use. A good example of fantasy is the fairytale narrative titled ‘Scrapped Princess’ (2005)

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directed by Soichi Masui, that involves Pacifica, a princess who is 15 years of age and who is prophesized to bring the world to an end when she reaches her 16th year. In this story of fantasy, Pacifica was discarded when she was born and was believed to be dead,

but she was eventually rescued by villagers and soon has an adopted brother and sister who struggle with the assassins sent to kill the princess and finally escape to freedom.

It is a fact that the Japanese borrow from different cultures and adapt them deftly to their own. However, they maintain their own unique style which is typically Japanese. The fantasy genre of anime is made so appealing that it attracts audiences on a global level in great numbers. The characters used in fantasy anime are very attractive with petite features. This is especially evident in the female characters that have extremely curvaceous bodies that are quite unnatural in appearance but yet is very attractive. Their mouths and noses are delicate and angel-like which gives them an ethereal appearance that is quite suitable for the fantasy genre. The eyes of these characters are unusually large and sparkly which lends an added edge to the fantasy element in the storyline. A good example of the fantasy genre is a video game called “Love Plus” that became so popular that soon male gamers became addicted to it. This simulated dating game became almost an obsession among male college students who through their hand- held video consoles, were able to choose a simulated girlfriend and go on a date with them. The creators of this game, Konami Digital Entertainment, collaborated with the seaside town of Atami, created an atmosphere where tour buses picked up those who played the game

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from specific tour spots and enabled them to take photographs and spend some time with their simulated anime girlfriends.

The downside to such practices had Japanese girls and young women trying to get faces and figures of these anime characters and thereby put themselves through a lot of trouble and trauma. Some companies are doing good business selling colorful and wide eye lenses with sparklers to give the wearer a fantasy anime look. In fact, the digital gaming industry of Japan is referred to as ‘the game console industry’ (Jetro, 2007) because of its dependence on home video games.

Japanese anime has spread globally and has had a great impact on world culture in the sense that through their anime series we have learned a lot about their culture, lifestyle, traditions and general way of life which we would not have otherwise come to know, except through Japanese anime. This dramatic exposure to Japanese culture has influenced people so much that there was a good increase in the number of individuals learning the Japanese language. There is no doubt that Japanese Manga and Anime have come a long way especially considering the advancements made in Science and Technology. However, in my opinion I feel that it would be good if they kept more to the real world than indulging in too much fantasy because many people are beginning to believe more in the fantasy than the real world!


Anime. Retrieved from Web, May, 2013

‘Borderless culture’ – Fantasy and Reality Blur in Anime Obsessed…Musings of a global

nomad, last edited on 27th November and retrieved from Web on May, 2013.…/.

GE S. (2009) in Anne Cooper – Chen (2011) “The Localization of Mass Culture in

China: The Cultural Reception Represented by Doraemon.” Panel Presentation, Cultural Typhoon Conference, Tokyo U, of Foreign Studies, Tama City, Japan. Retrieved from Web, May, 2013


Jetro, (2007) Japanese Video Game Industry. Trends in the Japanese Video Game

Industry. Yano Research Institute.

Manga and Anime – Japan Guide

Richmond S. (2009) GE S. (2009) in Anne Cooper – Chen (2011) The Rough Guide to

Anime. New York, Rough Guides.


What is Anime? A Quick Introduction to Japanese Animation

Yasue Kuwahara, (1997) Japanese Culture and Popular Consciousness. The Journal of

Popular Culture, Vol. 31, Issue 1, pgs. 37- 48.