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In a global multicultural society, it is not unusual to find influences from a wide variety of countries. However, Japan and its popular culture have become a powerful force, particularly in the entertainment industry. Some of the most popular concepts originate in Japan and have accrued a cult following globally, continuing to expand the community of followers. This report will investigate the growth and influence of Japanese pop culture through anime, video games, and the film industry.
One of the most iconic symbols of Japanese pop culture for several decades is Japanese anime. These are animated drawn cartoons that maintain a unique style of drawing styles that exaggerate certain features and portray highly emotional stories. Anime can be in practically any genre, often creating its own, such as the well-known cyberpunk genre. The anime industry is worth over $15 billion and covers a wide range of programming, ranging from children’s TV to highly graphical adult themes.
Some globally popular anime hits include Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, and Spirited Away. Anime hits have accrued large followings of fans globally that inspires festivals, costume play as well as learning about the general Japanese culture and language. Furthermore, the anime art style has become iconic that it is often copied in the West in various children’s cartoons such as Avatar: The Last Airbender.
A unique aspect of Japan’s culture is that it tends to ignore maturity. The anime cartoons and manga comics are created for people of all ages, with the belief and assumption based on evidence that if a person likes them at a younger age, he will like them as an older adult as well. Therefore, their inherent form does not change, with only adult themes. Japanese animation has had a profound influence on global animation industries as the quality work and ideas of Japanese artists are being adopted by major studios. For example, Disney created extremely popular and well-acclaimed films such as Big Hero 6, which draw their influences from Japanese roots and comic book creators (Hoskin, 2015).
One of Japan’s biggest video game exporters is Nintendo, which has created a number of pop culture icons such as Mario. Japanese video games have defined themselves as being unique, extremely high quality, and visually entertaining. Japanese video games draw on many elements of classical fantasy of Japanese folklore. Video games have had such a profound impact on global culture that numerous old games are still preserved in gaming arcades.
Meanwhile, Nintendo characters and fantasy worlds have become global brands for commercial products (Hoskin, 2015). Due to its geographic location, Japan has specialized a large part of its economy on electronics, leading to some of the biggest leaps in consumer electronics in the 20th century.
In part, this contributed to the growth of the video game industry there, which Japan embraced. Many experts believe that without both practical and cultural contributions of the Japanese industry, video games would not exist in the state they are in today. Japan is home to two of the biggest video game and console corporations in the world, Sony and Nintendo. In the 21st century, the Japanese video game industry continues to influence global pop culture.
People of all ages play video games, and Japan offers both hardware and games that fill the consumer demand. The most recent pop culture boom was the release of the virtual reality game Pokemon Go, being both extremely popular and profitable. The game was created by a Japanese studio and is built on the concept of the popular Japanese anime series (Prisco, 2017). Despite this uniquely Japanese origin, millions of people around the world played or were influenced by the game, even without expressing direct interest in the cultural aspect.
Another influential aspect of Japanese film culture is that it continuously inspires remakes in the West. Some popular Hollywood releases of the 21st century, such as Shall We Dance, The Ring, and The Magnificent Seven, are essentially remakes of original Japanese films. The themes and stories are adapted to a different setting, but their essential nature is maintained. This could be attributed to the excellent storytelling and art of Japanese films in the 20th century, along with the iconic status that they have established. These movies are popular both in Japan and abroad, drawing in audiences for their unique ideas.
The corporate giant Sony also owns a large film division that has been producing blockbusters in recent years that are either inspired or based on Japanese cultural themes. A series of recent films such as Pacific Rim, Dr. Strange, and Ghost in the Shell are adaptations of Japanese culture, sometimes based on previous cartoons or comics. In addition to these, there are many films that are based on Japan or attempt to explore the country’s culture, society, and history. It can be argued that Japanese culture, often shown in the film, possesses a certain mystery, iconic status and commonly attracts people to study it. Eventually, this translates into becoming a pop-cultural phenomenon through film media.
Overall, it is evident that Japanese popular culture spans a wide variety of mediums such as anime, video games, and feature films. These have served as iconic influences on global pop culture and entertainment. These aspects are defined by their uniqueness, high quality, and addictive nature that have created legions of fans around the world and established the dominant influence of Japanese culture.
Hoskin, P. (2015). How Japan became a pop culture superpower. The Spectator. Web.
Prisco, J. (2017). How Japan changed video games forever. CNN. Web.