Animation in different cultures
By Ben Green
Animation has a variety of differences between Japanese culture and the culture of the United States. While animation is usually made for the sole purpose of entertainment for children in the United States, Japanese animation, also known as anime as it is referred to both in Japan and in the West, is a form of media that is enjoyed by people of all ages. Unlike the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and SpongeBob Square pants, both very popular American animations shows in their times, anime focuses more on drama and other non childlike qualities. The differing cultures of the United States and Japan can be considered the main factor to the huge differences in their own respected animation styles.
Anime is considered a pop culture phenomenon. Many critics and fans argue as to whether this form of entertainment is actually a type of art at all or simply a media craze. Critics of animation argue whether anime, while extremely popular in Japanese culture today and increasingly so in the Western world, should be held up alongside famous Japanese traditions such as haiku and woodblock prints. Many see anime as nothing more than a typical entertainment phase and that it will lose its social status and eventually disappear all together. However, anime has a strong growing market today and shows no signs of disappearing anytime soon.
Anime differs greatly from the animation found in the United States today. Browsing a entertainment shop in Japan, a person might find videos ranging from classic love and betrayal stories, to stories leading up to the apocalypse, and anything in between. Originating in 1945, the first anime featured film Momotaro umi no shinpei translated as Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors was actually designed as propaganda by the Imperial Navy. Its main focus was to lift the spirits of the Japanese children in the postwar period as everything struggled to regain balance, from the animation and film industry, to the economy and even Japanese society as a whole (MacWilliams 49).
The 1950’s saw a flood of creativity in the Japanese animation field, leading up to the country’s second feature film in 1958, Hakujaden (The Legend of the White Serpent, aka Panda and the Magical Serpent). Created by the Toei Doga Company, this film showed that full-length animated feature films were a viable commercial product in the Japanese market (MacWilliams 50). Previously only animated films from foreign nations reached Japanese theatres, mostly coming from the United States.
With the rapid spread of television in the 1960’s, Japanese animators found a new way to sell their products. One of the first Japanese anime to see great success was Tetsuwan Atom also known as Astro Boy, seeing success in western countries such as the United States and Europe. Another popular series from this time period was Tetsujin 28-go or Gigantor. Unlike the cartoons being shown in the United States at this time period, such as...