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Old 19-02-2005, 11:35 PM   #1   [permalink]
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Young Americans revel in Japanese pop culture

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor...n_050219223657

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Young Americans revel in Japanese pop culture

Sat Feb 19, 5:36 PM ET



ARLINGTON, United States (AFP) - Judging from the colorful crowds at the "anime-con" event here, the Japanese pop cultural invasion of the United States is in full swing.


Wannabe heroes dressed like characters from video games, comic books and animated movies packed the halls at a hotel, sporting elaborate costumes.


The "Final Fantasy" crew was there. So was Spike Spiegel from "Cowboy Bebop," Ruri from "Nadescio," the Sailor Moon gang, and an army of ninjas and samurai with toy swords, bows and arrows.


"We have something in common, but we're all so different," said Da Qiao, the wife of a Wu army leader in the Dynasty Warriors 4 RPG (which, for the uninitiated, stands for Role Playing Game.) She's otherwise known as Allison McDaniel, 15.


What the crowd has in common is a love for Japanese pop culture.


With the increased popularity of video games -- many designed in Japan -- as well as mangas (Japanese comic books) and anime (Japanese animation), Japan's pop culture is making deep inroads among American youth.


The popularity can be gauged by the crowds at events like Katsucon, one of 70 similar conferences scheduled across the United States this year.


Organizers expect some 9,000 people over three days -- an increase over 2004, but smaller than mid-year mega-events in Los Angeles and Baltimore that attract crowds of 25,000.


Katsucon features anime artist workshops, manga and anime movie sales, and the ever popular "cosplay," where participants dress up and assume the personality of popular anime characters.


Fans welcomed voice actors who breathe life into anime characters like rock stars.


Highlighting the weekend were performances by J-pop rock band Psycho le Cemu, a quintet that dresses in outlandish anime and video-game inspired costumes.


Anime art is characterized by heroes with oversized eyes and small noses, and is drawn with sharper lines and less detail than Western animation.


Japanese comic books, or mangas, are drawn in the anime style. The word however is commonly used as shorthand for animated TV series and movies.


The vast anime universe encompasses everything from Yu-Gi-Oh! trading cards to Hello Kitty! paraphernalia to Gundam robots and Dragonball Z superheroes. There are also hyper-cool detectives, futuristic bounty hunters, lots of teen romance, and fantastical samurai adventures.


Anime story lines are more complex than Western cartoons. They often cover mature themes and routinely include nudity and violence. And unlike in US cartoons, people die in anime shows.


Before the Internet boom the exotic pictures appealed only to a small crowd in the United States, said Patrick Macias, a writer at the San Francisco-based trade magazine Animerica.


Interest in Japanese pop culture took off with the 1998 introduction of "Pokemon," an animated TV show about cuddly collectible monsters. That coincided with the rise of video games and Internet use, which made all things Japanese accessible at the click of a mouse button.

-


Big US chain stores like Best Buy and Barnes and Noble took note and began carrying mangas and anime videos, fueling the craze.

Today anime cartoons are broadcast on Saturday morning kid TV and mangas are widely available at major bookstores. A 24-hour all-anime cable channel opened in 2002.

Many Americans are attracted to Japanese pop culture "because we look at Japan as a place where it's OK to like comic books and cartoons past the socially approved expiration date," said Macias, who is also the author of "Cruising the Anime City: An Otaku Guide to Neo-Tokyo."

"For us it's paradise," he said.

The first hit Japanese crossover show was the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," introduced in 1993. The show was a live action series about teenagers that summoned giant robots to fight exotic monsters.

Fearing the show was too Japanese, producers refilmed some parts with American actors.

"Now marketers purposefully weave in the fact that it's coming from Japan, because that's cool," said Duke University cultural anthropologist Anne Allison, author of the forthcoming "Millennial Monsters" about the globalization of Japanese children's entertainment.

The number of US fans of Japanese pop culture is growing "in part because it's a media mix," Allison said. "It's not just manga and anime. It's also trading cards and Pokemon and Gameboy (electronic) games and video games."

Its success is "even more remarkable" for a country like the United States "that has been pretty hostile to foreign influence," Allison said.

Macias wonders if the boom has peaked.

"If ever a generation was primed to eat this stuff up, it's the teenagers you see reading manga now," said Macias.

"But it's really hard to say if the next batch of kids will continue the interest or get into something even more far out like Nordic yodelling," he said.


Well, at least in the states, we're getting somewhere...
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Old 20-02-2005, 12:30 AM   #2   [permalink]
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It's about time they noticed!
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Old 20-02-2005, 01:53 PM   #3   [permalink]
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Wow. That is very cool that Katsucon is getting recognized like this. Otakon and Anime Expo always seem to get most of the press (but of course they get mentioned).
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Old 20-02-2005, 09:35 PM   #4   [permalink]
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Hmmm...I'd disagree with "less Detail than American Drawings" in art. American Animation has more *movement*, but in terms of single-cell comparisons, I tend to see most Japanese Anime artwork to be superior to American Animation. I think they were thinking of stuff like Yugi-oh and Pokemon when they said that, certainly not stuff like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex or Wolf's Rain.
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Old 20-02-2005, 10:03 PM   #5   [permalink]
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Originally Posted by Darklightz
It's about time they noticed!
oh oh ... you know what this means ...

When mainstream society recognizes a cultural phenomena, it assimilates it to the point of "normalcy" ... thus the fad or trend begins to loose momentum due to its increasingly pedestrian and therefore "uncool" nature.


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Old 22-02-2005, 01:46 AM   #6   [permalink]
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Well, the premiere of the new Nickelodion Series Avatar: The Last Air Bender recently occured, and if you know anything about it or have seen any episodes you'd see that's in an American show which revels in Asian style. All of the animation is done in Korea, the style and expressions are that of Anime, and everything sort of has an Asian flare to it (Even Asian letters in the title screen). It wasn't enough that they had to make an action cartoon, they had to make an action cartoon that was made to look like Anime.

So yeah, plenty of cultural assimilation will arise, though it all happens because they believe it will make them money, and when something will make them money, they all jump on the bandwagon.
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Old 22-02-2005, 09:00 AM   #7   [permalink]
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Well if it looks like anime and sounds like anime, does it matter so much who designed it, especially if the artwork is done by Asian animators? Does the plot suck? Is the voice acting reasonably-decent?

It's like the difference between sparkling wine and champagne. The latter can only be made in Champagne, France. Every other imitation in the world is called sparkling wine.
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Old 22-02-2005, 12:21 PM   #8   [permalink]
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Originally Posted by raynebc
Well if it looks like anime and sounds like anime, does it matter so much who designed it, especially if the artwork is done by Asian animators? Does the plot suck? Is the voice acting reasonably-decent?

It's like the difference between sparkling wine and champagne. The latter can only be made in Champagne, France. Every other imitation in the world is called sparkling wine.
The whole Champagne thing, to me, is completely stupid, but yeah you got a point. Anime shouldn't be anime just because is was made in Japan, though it does help.
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Old 23-02-2005, 01:10 AM   #9   [permalink]
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Ugh....

No.

It's not anime. That's like saying GI Joe is Anime because the Animation was done overseas, or that Robotech is anime even though its plot was heavily altered and multiple shows amalgamated into one. Now look at my Screen Name...I love Robotech as much as any other Robotech Fan, but I don't consider it Japanese anime, I consider it a good American story loosely based on three Seperate Japanese Animes that were all considerably different from what appeared in Robotech (Southern Cross originally didn't even take place on Earth!). Robotech is American because an American designed its plot. Macross, Souther Cross, and Mospeada, by contrast, are Japanese. GI Joe, as I mentioned, is the same, but perhaps an even better example, since the show's concept, design, and plot was entirely created over here but the animation done overseas.

Just because it looks like Japanese Anime doesn't mean its Anime. Just because the animation was done in Japan or Korea doesn't make it Anime if the design, scripting, and planning of the show is done in America.

There is one key definition of what Japanese Anime is. The term Anime in and of itself has no meaning other than "Animation," technically American Cartoons would be called "Anime" in Japan, but what makes *Japanese* Anime Japanese is the fact that it is made in Japan FOR Japanese Audiences. EDIT: With the recent popularity growth of Anime in the US I should say *Primarily* for Japanese audiences /EDIT. So to be Japanese Anime, it has to have been designed by Japanese companies in terms of the story, and it was created either for Japan originally, or for a joint project to be aired in both Japan and another country (I.E., something that didn't have to be licensed after it aired in Japan; these kinds of shows are fairly recent and likely due to the growing audience in the US). Really, who animates it doesn't make it anime. Japanese Companies have Korean workers do a lot of work for their animation, but the work is Japanese specifically because the series itself was crafted by Japanese companies.
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