Its an exotic culture but who would have thought it could contain such struggles over the nature of utopia? There is always a secret beneath the shiny hard exterior of the body politic.Underneath the signature poses and porcelain gestures there is a language of motion that blurs the distinction between the virtual and the real, The struggle of reconciling and dragging the real into a virtual existence.Its an altered state of consciousness of artificial reality and virtual sanity or at least a suspended reality where the notion of time and mortality are deferred….
Japanese anime has been part of the world for a long time, and the world has always been a part of Japanese animation. There was always the possibility of animation to transcend cultural and linguistic barriers in a way that action film couldn’t.In other words, Japanese anime has produced works of great poignancy and depth for decades; as such it is subject to a fair degree of derision, snobbery and condescension by those cognoscenti who assert that live action is the only way to tell a story.You have to see beyond the titillation to a broader social phenomenon that is historical, even mythical in origin.In any event, anime harkens to the epoch of experience being transmitted on a mouth to mouth basis as part of a storytelling tradition and not the Western conception of a counterfeiting of reality through the novel form and other proxies which coalesce in the fictive:
Walter Benjamin:Every morning brings us the news of the globe, and yet we are poor in noteworthy stories. This is because no event any longer comes to us without already being shot through with explanation. In other words, by now almost nothing that happens benefits storytelling; almost everything benefits information. Actually, it is half the art of storytelling to keep a story free from explanation as one reproduces it. Read More:http://slought.org/files/downloads/events/SF_1331-Benjamin.pdf
Anime is far more than cartoon porn and is a medium that deserves to be taken seriously, lifted out of the status of subculture and into the mainstream. So, animation is often unjustly marginalized to the advantage of “real” movies. It is a point that merits elaboration, for there is an entire industry, and a culture, that has been using animation as a mainstay of grand storytelling for decades: anime.The question has to be asked what the reader or viewer is escaping escaping from and where are they escaping to? What is it the reader of romantic anime seeks and what needs are being fulfilled? The simple answer is because of the weight of conformity, academic pressure, and dissatisfaction with mundane life pushes young Japanese to seek escapism in romantic fantasy. But the question of what these anime stories actually provide is a more complex answer.
Dewar:Japanese cartoons are sometime thought of as little more than animated pornography filled with images of semi-naked, big-eyed girls. Far above this level, however, there are works of great poignancy and depth. Anime explores such classic themes as life and death, friendship, love, loyalty and the struggle to define one’s self – stories often too complex for children to follow. Many anime films and television series are specifically targeted at adult audiences. Younger audiences won’t comprehend the themes examined in, for example, Paprika, which looks at the nature of the psyche, or Metropolis, which tackles the existential problems of what it means to be human and to have a perception of self. Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/25/anime-animated-pornography
Yet in the West, Japan is perceived as a calculating nation of homogenous, generic robot-like workers, hyper efficient, and overwhelming bureaucratic. The individual is seen as a figure out of an early Kurosawa movie; imagination and individuality dissipated, or ultimately pushed towards suicidal tendencies. World War II inscribed the image of the savage Japanese samurai warrior in the kamikaze planes, fanatic like a suicide bomber.A culture that produced Bridge over the River Kwai. Japanese social culture is often seen as blanketed under stifling layers of politeness and formality, characterized by endless bowing. Finally, it seems a given that Japan cannot create anything original of its own that draws from its national traditEven material considered “romantic” might be only an imitation of the West.
These stereotypes are not completely undeserved, and Japan’s trade barriers, imperialism, racism, and sexism are well documented with supportive evidence. It hardly helps that the Japanese do not often share their private thoughts with outsiders; they display instead the faces they are taught to display to each other out of habit: brusqueness to perceived inferiors and equals, and polite submission to social superiors.Much of the limited anime and manga material that trickles into the U.S., however, does little to help the heartless, flat image of Japan. Many animated videos that come into the U.S. seem almost obsessed with sex and violence. The video games also tend to highlight violence.But there is another way to explore the soul of Japan : if one bothers to look at what many Japanese themselves seek in their own private time and create for their peers and anime opens the door to this secret world.
—But the nature of the medium itself is a compelling reason. It is an ideal story telling mechanism, able to combine aspects of art, prose, characterization, cinematography techniques (even in the comic books), and all sorts of literary narrative techniques; the video games and animated films also incorporate music. Drawn by hand, anime is also separated from reality by a crucial gap of fiction. Drawn characters and worlds can depict fantastic and otherwise impossible scenes; the stories and images are theoretically “safe” for exploration without either disrupting or being disrupted by real society. The images are also simple enough, unlike some forms of highly detailed traditional art, to allow people to project their own ideals onto the images. And, like any other media, they can be explored alone, in the privacy of one’s mind, free from outside observation. By these traits, the anime-based media provide an ideal path for escapism, and hence, a look at what people are seeking at a deep, personal level that the “real world” cannot touch.Read More:http://www.mit.edu/~rei/manga-romanticism.html
Production of short films, including a handful of foreign releases, continued for years until theatrical features became possible in the early 40s thanks to sponsorship by government forces on a very ambitious transnational project: war. While Japanese and American soldiers battled each other on land and sea, cultural hero Momotaro and his Disney-like animal buddies trampled Bluto, Popeye and the devilish foreign Navy before the eyes of anxious young viewers. Unfortunately for Momotaro his animated dreams didn’t come true, and when the postwar commercial cell-animated film industry-granddaddy of the “anime” we know today-developed in the shadows of Disney releases and Occupation censorship, it was instantly and explicitly international.
—Hidden treasures; a connection to something vast, epic — perhaps even infinite. This is one of the best-hidden, secret elements of these stories. Somewhere, someday, there might shine a joy that outshines transient pain and pleasure, an eternal love that perhaps survives even death. This is the treasure worth living for and worth seeking, the secret answer to a desperate search. This is the search that has taken the Anime world’s visitor across the boundaries of time and space, through mysterious realms, through epic histories, through the lives of characters who laugh and cry and dream, through emotions and experiences too profound for words … and then gently back to reality, carrying the priceless and encouraging echoes of the message of hope, summarized as follows: “The future will be glorious, if only we remember what is truly important and persevere no matter what.” Surely this message strikes a chord in the hearts of the audience, for it is repeated quietly in manga after manga, movie after movie, and even through the video games. How many people have found solace this way, and the will to survive their own small and large sufferings — maybe even conquer them — with the hope for something far better? The message now has surpassed notions of mere “romanticism”; it has sailed on into the very edges of the divine. Read More:http://www.mit.edu/~rei/manga-romanticism.html
—–Brent Allison:Japan is a unique case for the Orientalist mind since most of its economic infrastructure, government, popular culture, and much of the Japanese people’s thinking have been Westernized since the Meiji Restoration era of the 1870s began driving Japan towards modernization to a degree not seen in other “Oriental” countries. It can be pointed to as a success by Orientalists of Western supervision and ideology governing the respective affairs and minds of an “Oriental” people, particularly in reference to its postwar period of democratization and economic growth. This problematizes the study of U.S. anime fan subculture to a great extent, since an awareness of Orientalism triggers questions of what motivates U.S. fans to watch anime. Do they watch it to be exposed to Japan’s “exoticness” and “mysticism” so closely associated with the “Orient” in general? Or do they view anime as a way to continue their consumption of the familiar – to watch the animation of another industrialized and Westernized nation? Will anime reinforce or challenge their Orientalist beliefs about Japan, and perhaps by extension, East Asia in general? Does the act of watching anime itself position anime fans as involved participants in Japanese culture who become reflective thinkers about their own culture, or as privileged and distanced observers of a people who have “culture”, yet never stop to think about themselves possessing a culture that itself can seem “exotic” to an Eastern mind with similar ethnocentric pretensions.Read More:http://www.corneredangel.com/amwess/papers/anime_fan_subculture.html