It’s not only Japanese kids who admire Japanese pop culture anymore. Japanese animations, manga (comics), games, music, contemporary art – a range of “Made in Japan” products have now penetrated to many of the countries in the West and Asia, widely and deeply.
65% of the animation launched around the world is made in Japan, and “Shonen JUMP” has become one of first ones to go out from the bookstores.
That, I told you in “ANIME” so I won’t repeat again, but now so many people are going frantic to figure out why Japanese pop-culture has gone off so well in the first stage.
According to Iino known for his work D no shokutaku, the foremost strength of Japanese pop culture is the “mixed-ness”.
Imagine any kind of Japanese anime and try to remember the characters. I think you find in most cases that the characters are taken away the distinctions of ethnie, social status or religion. Sometimes they even appear as fictional figures with mixed characteristics of different backgrounds. Or even animals become significant figures.
And what about music? A variety of music – pop, hip-hop, reggae, rock, Japanese ethnic, etc. etc. – are mixed and made into modern music.
I suppose, perhaps non-Japanese people get attracted to this “mixed-ness” of animes which non-fictional and fictional come together, and games which violence, sex and pure love all melt in.
The origin of this “mixed-ness” lies in the freedom of manga and animation production. As compared to some other countries, the regulations are much more loose. I heard somewhere sometime that there are a bunch of creators who want to try out their talents in the liberal environment of manga/ animation production.
On the contrary, however, there are increasing criticisms pointing out that Japanese animation these days have the tendency of “being forced to make” rather than “creating”. In other words, new ones are fit in a pattern of some major hits in the past.
Tomino, the director of the major hit Gundam series, also agrees with this point. He commented that, “Creators today produce anime by watching anime. We looked at so many things and learned, and then created anime.”
What they’re saying here, is that unless you keep your senses free to all kinds of stuff and information, all we can have is a mass production of degraded copies coming from imitations of imitations.
Some others say that the reason for the popularization of Japanese pop culture has its roots in the upgrade of education causing children to create more and more high quality music and visual arts. In a way, maybe yes, since there aren’t so many countries where all citizens can play musical instruments and can draw.
Nonetheless, a kind of education and environment where relative grading is standardized, how accurate you can follow the rules is more emphasized and thus liberal, flexible and radical thoughts and imaginations are hard to develop.
As long as this style of education goes on, and as long as creators imitate predecessors, Japanese ANIME will soon see its end.