Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Anime: Japanese Pop-Culture Trend Impacts the United States

I was recently thinking over some of the anime series in my collection and decided to start watching Inuyasha from episode number ninety-six. Now, there are one hundred and seventy episodes of Inuyasha including the movies and I own them all. I wouldn’t class myself as an “otaku” or obsessed fan of anything but observing the culture built up around it and studying the cultures that gave birth to such animated movies and animated series. It amazes me that over such short periods of time that two hundred episodes to a series appear and air.

Japan is a heavy influence on the United States. Fans of Japanese afficionada, the influx and Japanese movies, comics and animation have taken America by storm. The cultural acceptance of subtitled and dubbed Japanese series isn’t that surprising but the number of viewers is quite surprising and also the number of series and movies as well. As especially new, the science fiction or fantasy conventions seem to have been pushed away by America’s younger generation and the turn-out at conventions like the annual Anime Con in Dallas are much more than those conventions ever were and frequented by a larger audience demographic as well, including kids, teens as well as adults of all ages.

One current series that has popularity among an older crowd around the world outside of japan and a younger crowd of fans around the world when it’s been dubbed in English is Naruto. The series ended early last year and has been followed by another series that has seemed to age with the fans and characters, this is Naruto Shipuuden. Blood, violence and language that would forbid the series from getting the ratings of PG have been edited out when published in U.S. DVD, “edited” as they have been with many anime series coming to the United States.Published under a different label, the local company realizes the popularity of an anime and attempts to domesticate it to appeal to local audiences and families. Many fans of the Japanese animated series that have come here have been annoyed by a demographic being targeted that wasn’t intended for the first publishing of these series and though some children and young teens watched these, the censoring and cutting of scenes when publishing anime in the U.S. has become very common and has broadened the demographic in age groups that will likely view it however it’s also lowered them quiet a bit and has been targeted to your average cartoon watching child.

Some series that have been kept mostly intact have been published here on DVD only and also uncut and uncensored versions have been published by the same companies that put out the censored versions to give the original intended audience a chance to view them and has met with success. Other popular animes just by theme and backstory have been deemed too risky to try to market to a younger audience therefore older teens and twenty-somethings have been the intended audience for many of them, aired at night at hours that would likely not expose younger audiences to them as well as forgoing the usual cartoon marketing stance of action figures, plush toys and the like that would appeal to a younger audience. Instead, collector’s memoribilia, some of which is indeed remniscient of the action figures and toys we’re used to but not as functional or meant for recreation, but instead appreciation and to keep as they may valuate.

Across the board these types of animation have appeared as an art form that’s been taken-to quite well by the younger generations in the U.S. and other countries and also popularized by conventions, airtime on the popular movie and cartoon networks and even dedicated services and networks providing only anime in part of as a whole.

I estimate that the fact that these are considered art and not underestimated in the amount of effort and creativity put in that has been passed up beyond the design of story and characters in many cartoons over the years.These animations have plots containing drama and depth also that hasn’t been seen before. Special effects and computer assisted creation has become common and as well new technologies are applied as they come out by artists creating new projects. There’s enough of these series coming out each year and most are popular enough to get a good amount of viewers, netting viewers in the millions of played prime-time every week as some are in Japan on T.V. Tokyo or in the U.S. or other countries on certain premium networks. There’s quite a piracy trade of these also, including what are called “fan subtitled” animes and movies, which are published on internet sites as soon as one day after a show or movie airs, is released or shown a theater.

In my opinion the U.S. publishing companies trying to take these animes and make spinoffs with the same art styles or story themes but is failing to grasp the gestalt when popularizing these cartoons but have had success in marketing these to the youngest of audiences because they can’t really tell the difference between a bad series and a good one. Whether you are a die-hard fan or if it’s just a favorite form of entertainment, if you’re between the ages of fifteen and twenty in America or Japan this cultural trend has likely affected you. Some go so far in their love that a subculture of the “best costume” or “costume party” mentality has lent itself to an idea called “cosplay”, which is costume imitation of anime or video game characters, much of it done to show off as mostly these costumes are home-made. So far with the popularity of trends related to the heavy Japanese pop culture influence of America, there’s been a huge number of people who’ve taken to these trends quite well and we’ll have to see what the future brings, though it won’t be a surprise to me if the current trends continue for a very long time.

Labels: Anime: Japanese Pop-Culture Trend Impacts the United States

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