Cultural Impact of Anime and Manga Research Paper

Pages: 5 (1552 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology

¶ … Japanese Manga and Anime according to Hector Garcia

In his book, A Geek in Japan, Hector Garcia makes it clear that developing a comprehensive understanding of Japanese culture is a daunting enterprise for most Westerners, and the process can take a great deal of time unless effort is made to learn as much as possible and to integrate this learning with empirical observations and scholarly research. To this end, this paper provides a critical summary of Garcia's chapter 8, "The World of Manga and Anime" to isolate the centrality of these media to Japanese culture and to explain how this research subject relates to the more general subject of the chapter from Garcia that inspired it. A summary of the research and important findings concerning the role of anime and manga in contemporary Japanese society are provided in the paper's conclusion.

Review and Analysis

Many people in the West still read some type of comic book, but the manga medium is growing in popularity, especially among young female readers who have responded favorably to these Japanese productions (Goldstein and Phelan 33). In fact, manga publications in the United States account for fully two-thirds of all so-called "graphic novels" and 75% of the readership is females aged 13 to 17 years (Goldstein and Phelan 34). According to one industry analyst, "In bookstores, manga is outselling North American comics like Superman and X-Men by 50 to 1. Manga had $70 million in retail sales in 2002 and is growing 40 to 50% a year" (Barack 37). A representative manga image is provided in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Representative manga image

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Research Paper on Cultural Impact of Anime and Manga Assignment

Despite these trends in the West, the medium has had a much more profound impact on Japanese society and readership continues to grow faster than in the West. For instance, Garcia emphasizes that, "The impact manga has had in the West bears no comparison to its impact in Japan. The market is huge." The word "manga" is used in Japan to refer to any type of comic book, but the genres are numerous and all enjoy enormous popularity. Analyzing the impact of manga on Japanese society represents an important opportunity to gain some insights into this homogeneous culture. In this regard, Barkman emphasizes that, "Anime and manga are important windows into the worldviews of many people and as such should be taken seriously by religious experts and philosophers interested in cultural criticism" (25). Indeed, although Japanese anime and manga share a common format with other animated productions and comic books, their content is uniquely Japanese. For example, Lent points out that, "Besides weird characters and plots and multiple functions, manga have other characteristics -- in sales, size, genres, artistic styles, and audiences -- that set them apart from comic books anywhere else in the world" (39).

Part of the attraction to manga appears to be the underlying moral messages rooted deeply in Japanese culture that are communicated that have widespread appeal for Japanese readers. For instance, Garcia points out that, "Manga fosters the values of friendship, perseverance, and achievement, values that originated in bushido and helped Japan quickly and successfully emerge from a postwar recession" (103). Unlike the West, this widespread appeal extends to all ages of Japanese readers as well. As Garcia emphasizes, "The common message in most popular manga is: if you work hard, you can achieve anything. This is valid for both children and adults, and it might be the reason why manga are read by everyone from the youngest to the oldest" (103).

By any measure, manga is a part of everyday life in Japan. Manga publications are truly ubiquitous in Japan and people read them on their way to work just as they would newspapers or in public "manga libraries" called manga kissas where consumers pay an hourly fee to read the selections of their choice (Garcia 104). Interestingly, manga publishers such as Shonen Jump only realize profits on their daily, weekly or monthly periodicals when they are collected into anthologies and published in book form (Barack 37). In this regard, Barack emphasizes that, "Books, not magazines, is where the manga money has been made in Japan. Periodically, the publishers consolidate the strips of one story line into books, which are far more profitable; in Japan" (37). In fact, manga publishers typically expect to do no more better than breaking even on their periodical publications, but when at least ten chapters of a manga have been published, they can be anthologized and published at a substantial profit because of the growing popularity of these 500+-page publications (Barack 37).

In contrast to manga, anime is the Japanese term for various types of animated productions which have also experienced widespread appeal (Garcia 106). According to Garcia, "The last two decades have seen the development of a new trend: making television series and movies out of manga. For example, Nana started off as a manga, and how there is a book, an animation series, a movie and video games" (104). There is an inextricable interrelationship between the media of manga and anime. In fact, Garcia points out that manga and anime "always go hand-in-hand" (106).

Beginning in the 1990s, anime series such as Sailor Moon (1992) and Pokemon (1997) through the mid-1990s with Yu-Gi-Oh! (1998), Dragon Ball Z (1986), Full Metal Alchemist (2003) and Naruto (2002) during 2000s, have had a significant impact on the global market for Japanese manga and anime productions as well as their increased domestic consumption in Japan (Choo 29). For instance, Prince suggests that "Anime exists at a nexus point in global culture. Anime is not only a major part of Japan's cultural export market but is also a small but growing part of the non-Japanese commercial world, in terms of the increasing number of non-Japanese enterprises that deal with anime" (51). In fact, some of the major Western enterprises that are marketing anime productions include (Prince 52).

Likewise, the manga medium has had global implications in recent years. As Lent points out, "The vigorous introduction of manga has homogenized the look of comic books and almost obliterated traditional means of producing them" (39). This homogenization has extended to the "look-and-feel" of the manga medium in many regions of the world, even displacing traditional art media in the process. In this regard, Lent adds that, "The distinctive-looking Malaysian humor magazines now clone manga, and in China, manga-like drawings and characters inundate the scene, brushing aside traditional painting and storytelling techniques" (39).

Given the fact that Japan is the only nation in the world to have been attacked with nuclear weapons and its history is truly ancient, it is perhaps not surprising that the largely positive messages that are communicated by manga and anime productions that are rooted within Japanese traditions have propelled these media into the national mainstream culture, generating billions of dollars in profit in the process. This point is made by Lent who advises, "Because of its increasing recognition and use by educational and other societal institutions, manga has reached the status of culture in Japan, serving as one of the most important dispensers of entertainment and knowledge, while turning whirlwind profits" (40).

Moreover, Japan's history has also been characterized by adopting, adapting and applying innovations from other countries, and these attributes have been extended to anime and manga as well. These attributes have also contributed to the media's growing popularity in Japan and abroad. For example, Lent reports that, "Because of Japan's long tradition of borrowing the best from outside and giving it a Japanese feel, manga has been uniquely prepared to enter and dominate the global market. The end result is a medium that is different, yet the same; weird, yet ordinary; and Japanese, yet international" (40).


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APA Style

Cultural Impact of Anime and Manga.  (2015, May 24).  Retrieved September 25, 2020, from

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"Cultural Impact of Anime and Manga."  24 May 2015.  Web.  25 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Cultural Impact of Anime and Manga."  May 24, 2015.  Accessed September 25, 2020.