Japan. So, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear this term? The answers are many, of course. From the stunning Mount Fuji to the calming Sakura trees and from beautiful kimonos to the mouth-watering ramen. Basically, there are many things that instantly hit us when we hear about this country. However, the two inter-related things that take the most space in our minds when talking about Japan are manga and anime. Not one can deny that the influence of anime and manga has drastically expanded all over the world in the last few decades. Gone are the days when anime and its characters were only a sensation in just Japan. As of today, even the people who are not into anime are very much familiar with it outside of the origin country. And since manga and anime are heavily based on Japanese culture and revolve around the country, it’s safe to say that they have formed an image of the nation for other countries. More like these two are acting as the representative of Japan! Hence, it is obvious that manga & anime have played a huge role in shaping the world’s perspective of Japan!
Familiarizing the culture
What does creating an image mean to you? Generally, it is when people are introduced to something unfamiliar, in a manner that they get a gist of the nature of whatever is being introduced. The same goes for Japan as well. Anime and manga made their debut long back. The art style was different, but it had a touch of Japan, of course. With the changing times, Japanese artists evolved their animation style and eventually made it into what we see today. The changes were, of course, somewhat influenced by the success of other popular animation styles of that time, like Walt Disney. However, Japanese artists still incorporated a unique Japanese touch into their animation. But the thing that gave detailed imagery of this country through their anime and manga was their stories, plots, and characters. All three were heavily influenced by Japan and its culture. Hence, something new for the rest of the world.
The stories gave an introduction to the world about the things that we now know about Japan. Confused? Okay, let’s elaborate through a few examples. Did you really know about ramen before watching its craze in Naruto? Or were you really familiar with the cherry blossom season and Sakura trees before they were used in almost every anime to showcase romance or visual ambiance? In fact, Mount Fuji gained popularity because of these anime. Not to forget the many festivals and kimono traditions that gave a glimpse of the importance of these two in Japanese culture through manga and anime. Do you get it? Basically, almost every beautiful thing that we know about Japan gained far more popularity through this form of entertainment. Of course, it might be possible that you knew about them before as well. But no one can deny the fact that Japanese culture made a stronger hold on our minds through their manga plots and stories, correct?
Shifting the focus
Before anime and manga were famous outside Japan, Japan had a different image altogether. Especially because of the events of World War. Not to forget the invasion in Korea. However, that image gradually changed. As of now, the current generation sees this country on how to put this, but on a kawaii side. Its culture is taken as something very adorable and respectful. While the people themselves are considered highly polite and respectful.
Not that this all is just an image. Because Japan actually is one of the most polite and beautiful countries. However, replacing a violent image with a composed one is not that easy. But manga and anime made it possible for Japan. From what the world has learned from anime and manga, Japan is all about being respectful and adorable. They love their festivals and will never leave an opportunity to flaunt a beautiful kimono.
Perceptions: Positive and Negative
Creating an image of an entire nation in the eyes of the world through entertainment has sides of its own. The case of Japan is no different. Let’s consider the positive perceptions first. Of course, the major one that goes without saying is the cute side of the country. Not only does the anime style showcase that, but the personalities of every character speaks for the same in volumes. The respectful way through which characters address each other is a perfect replica of how Japanese people actually interact. They have a lot of ways of addressing others depending upon their relations. Japanese Gods and the power of emotions and bonds is also something that plays a major role here.
Most of the weebs often consider manga and anime bonds as a lesson. It is absolutely true since the stories are deeply embedded with serious issues. The study culture, along with things like being responsible for hygiene in schools, is also shown in the stories. Students being in charge of school cleanness is something that can only be seen in Japan and such countries. It gives a gist of how the country considers such important habits as being vital. Not to forget the progress the plots have adapted. Homosexual relations in anime are increasing and are a perfect boost for the LGBTQ community. However, not everything goes with flying colors. There are a few disadvantages as well. Such as the depiction of overly sexualized women in anime is creating an image for Asian women which is different from how they actually are. Terms like senpai, sensei, baka, and many more have taken a different meaning altogether. The over exaggerated manner of speech is also not particularly correct for the country. Basically, anime and manga have created a positive image of Japan. But on the same hand, it has also formed a few misconceptions.
So, yes, anime and manga have played a huge role in shaping the world’s perspective of Japan. While most of it is true, some sure need a few changes, don’t they? So, what are your thoughts about it? What type of perception have you formed based on the manga and anime that you have read and watched?
Do you love Japan like the rest of us? Take a minute to understand the mundanely magical everyday Japanese lifestyle.