Japanese animation and how its been influenced by American culture in the 20th century
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: Animation|
|✅ Wordcount: 5601 words||✅ Published: 11th May 2015|
In this essay I shall investigate to what extent twentieth century American culture has influenced Japanese animation. I shall examine the history of Japanese film, paying close attention to the rise of animation as an independent art form; determine what facets of American culture have appeared and influenced Japanese animation, including language, pop culture and consumerism; present two case studies of Japanese animated productions that adhere to the American influence; and draw conclusions from my findings.
For my research I shall be referencing literature on Japanese animation, American culture and film history. The case studies shall consist of films by Osamu Tezuka and Mamoru Oshii.
History of Japanese Animation
The Japanese film industry was born out of the fascination with Edison’s Kinetoscope. The Kinetoscope had been first shown in New York in 1894, and two years later the Japanese imported several to their cities. This was a period of celebration and novelty as the Sino-Japanese war had been won in 1895 with Japan forcing the Chinese invasion out of Korea; proving that Japan could adjust to the modern civilization [sic] which less than fifty years earlier had arrived knocking at the closed gates of the country in the person of Commodore Perry. It was the reign of Emperor Meiji, spanning 44 years from 1868 to 1912, which welcomed an era of rapid commercial expansion. In 1897, the Lumière brothers’ Cinématographe arrived with a mixed bill of films including ‘Baignade en Mer’ and ‘L’Arrivée d’un Train en Gare’. This was followed by the Edison Vitascope and its films ‘The Death of Mary Queen of Scots’ and ‘Feeding Pigeons’. These innovative projectors were extremely popular with the Japanese, including the future Emperor Taisho. The public were arriving in their thousands to watch these films and continued to do so for another twenty years. Throughout this period the Japanese were importing films from Europe and the United States.
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It was only in 1912 that Japan founded its first production company; Nikkatsu Motion Picture Company. Established as an independent company under the title Japan Cinematograph Company, Nikkatsu started mass distribution and production of films in the 1920s. This meant that Japan was still dependant on films produced in the West to exhibit in its cinemas in the 1910s. During the First World War (1914-1918) European films were unavailable and to fill the void Japan began to heavily import films from Hollywood. One particular film that was to change the way the Japanese read film narrative was D.W. Griffith’s 1916 feature, ‘Intolerance’. Perhaps the director nost influenced by Griffith in this early period of Japanese film was Norimasa Kaeriyama. Kaeriyama introduced advanced film technique into Japan and helped establish the ‘Film Record’, the country’s first motion picture magazine. His films were heavily inspired by the Hollywood narrative structure and were dedicated to: the introduction of long-, medium-, and close-shots, together with editing principles; the conversion to realistic acting; and the use of actresses in women’s roles instead of oyama (oyama impersonators were previously used instead of actresses for female roles).
After the death of Emperor Taisho in 1926 Japan’s new Emperor, Showa (Hirohito), began to reject the liberal attitudes towards Western influence of his predecessor. There was more emphasis on creating greater armies and a more powerful navy than building diplomatic relations. Before the Great Depression rocked the United States and Europe, Japan had already suffered; this was accelerated by the population boom across the country. Japan now put emphasis into its manufacturing and exportation of goods. Japan’s foreign policy had become one of aggressive expansion; they had seized control of the railways in Shandong, China, but were forced to withdraw after China boycotted Japanese exports. There was unrest in the country as labour unions were growing and dissatisfaction bred. Strikes and boycotts were rife, and this was reflected in the films of the time. Period drama films afforded the public the luxury of escapism while, on the other end of the scale, left-wing ‘tendency films’ that “sought to encourage, or fight against, a given social tendency” played to the nation. This period of filmmaking in Japan proved that the industry had grown up from its humble origins and was establishing its own themes.
The influx of the ‘talkies’ from Hollywood finally pushed Japanese filmmakers to produce their own sound filmes. In the early 1930s sound became the norm for Japanese productions and therefore pushed the boundaries of the industry; allowing directors such as Teinosuke Kinugasa to create lavish dramas that were adored by the public. Suddenly the door was open for filmmakers to adapt historic tales dramatically. These dramas were singled out by the Emperor who saw them as an important tool to boost the nation’s morale, showing the masses how important history was; and how important it was to actually make their own history. The second Sino-Japanese war was not unexpected. The film industry had to develop the skills to produce the war genre. The first Japanese war movie was Tomotaka Tasaka’s 1938 feature, ‘Five Scouts’ (Gonin no Sekkohei). It is interesting to note that this film does not include the pride, nationalism or propaganda that was being released in the United States, Britain or Germany. The story dealt with the lives of five soldiers caught up in a battle that they know they must fight. This narrative development of character over plot is still used in modern cinema, most recently in Sam Mendes’ ‘Jarhead’ (2005).
After the destruction of the Second World War, Japan was forced to rebuild as a nation. The Emperor saw the need to keep the cinemas open (at least those that still remained). Production continued, some unfinished films were abandoned due to their military narrative, and projects that had been discarded before the outbreak of war were completed. The occupying Allied interim ‘government’ announced a list of prohibited subjects, these included militarism, revenge, nationalism, religious or racial discrimination, feudal loyalty, suicide, cruelty, exploitation of children and opposition to the occupation. Editorial power had been taken away from the filmmakers and left with a foreign military presence. Out of this period two important directors were to emerge; Kurosawa and Kinoshita.In 1950, Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Rashomon’ was released. The film introduced new ideas to Japanese, and world, cinema. It was the first film to use flashbacks that disagreed with the action they were flashing back to. It supplied first-person eyewitness accounts that differed radically; one of which came from beyond the grave. The final scene saw no Hollywood resolution with three self-confessed killers and no explanation. His later films included ‘Seven Samurai’ (Shichinin no samurai) (1954), ‘The Hidden Fortress’ (Kakushi-toride no san-akunin) (1958) and ‘Yojimbo’ (1961). Keisuke Kinoshita directed Japan’s first colour film in 1951 with ‘Carmen Comes Home’ (Karumen kokyo ni kaeru). Kinoshita’s work is much lighter than that of Kurosawa and his influences seem to come from French comedies; most notably in the two Carmen movies featuring the ‘stripper-with-a-heart-of-gold’ Carmen. Both these and other films explore the need for a character to leave the countryside and head to the new cities. This was echoed in Japan’s successful attempts to join the United Nations in 1956.
In 1958 the first cartoon feature from Japan was released from the Toei studios. ‘Panda and the Magic Serpent’ (Hakuja den) was directed by Kazuhiko Okabe and Taiji Yabushita and tells of two lovers in ancient China who must battle evil to find happiness. The film combines bizarre supernatural sequences, psychedelic montages and instantly likeable songs. Even though it can be argued that this is the Japanese interpretation of Disney’s 1940 classic ‘Fantasia’, ‘Panda and the Magic Serpent’ heralds the beginning of the Japanese animation industry (anime).
Anime is the term used to describe Japanese animation. Since the 1950s Japan has been at the forefront of not only producing animation but is a world-leader in comic book art, or ‘Manga’. It is best described by Gilles Poitras: “Anime (pronounced ah-nee-may), as defined by common non-Japanese fan usage, is any animation made in Japan. In Japan, the word simply means ‘animation’. While anime is sometimes erroneously referred to as a ‘genre’, it is in reality an art form that includes all the genres found in cinema or literature, from heroic epics and romances to science fiction and comedy.” Whereas anime is what people would refer to as cartoons, Manga is the illustrated storyboards that the reader animates in his or her head. The fact that Manga is read by a whole cross-section of society is notable because it is; simply too fascinating, colorful [sic], and rich a literary medium to be left solely to children”.
The 1960s saw a host of anime films released. In ‘The Enchanted Monkey’ (Saiyu-ki), directed by Daisaku Shirakawa, Taiji Yabushita and Osamu Tezuka in 1960, the story is a retelling of part of the epic Chinese classic, ‘The Journey to the West’, written by Wu Cheng-En in the sixteenth century. This technique of updating early stories was a popular theme in anime and is still used today. However, it was not only the cinema that was releasing anime productions. Japanese television aired ‘Mighty Atom’ (Tetsuwan Atomu) from 1963 to 1966. ‘Mighty Atom’ was the creation of Dr Osamu Tezuka, an influential figure in the early development of Manga. It was the first animated series produced by Tezuka’s television and film production company, Mushi Studios. The initial episode was shown as a television special on New Year’s Eve (one of the most widely viewed evenings on Japanese television) and became an instant success. When the series was shown in the United States the character’s name was changed to ‘Astroboy’ due to DC Comics already owning a character called ‘The Mighty Atom’. The series proved to be extremely popular with children, and sparked controversy amongst parents who, even though the translation was greatly softened and sometimes edited for juvenile audiences, complained that the often dark subject matter was not suitable for impressionable young minds. Some episodes exhibited increasingly dreamlike and surreal imagery. This argument still persists today with the debate on whether graphic violence in cartoons (or anime) can prove detrimental to a young audience.
The 1970s was a time of consolidation for the animation studios. The worldwide popularity of anime had afforded hundreds of studios to be set up to produce a plethora of films and television series. The moon landing in 1969 fired the imagination of the world with more emphasis on science fiction; and that is what the audience wanted. Fans of anime, or ‘otaku’, from around the world demanded new productions from these studios, and in turn the studios delivered new and advanced films. Otaku derives from the Chinese character for ‘house’ and the honorific prefix ‘o-‘. This translates as ‘your honourable house’. It is an extremely polite way of saying ‘you’ when addressing another person in conversation; the writer Akio Nakamori proposed that the term be applied to the fans themselves. Another interpretation, as used by the Japanese media, is that of ‘extreme fixation’, which is probably closer to the truth. Either way it is the fans of anime that have been the driving force behind its success.
In 1971 an animator directed 24 episodes of an anime series called ‘Lupin III’ (Rupan sansei). It was the start of a very important career for perhaps the most important animator to come out of Japan. This man was Hayao Miyazaki. The series ran from 1971 to 1972 and was so successful that a number of sequels were made as well as theatrical releases. ‘Lupin III’ describes the life of gang members in 1970s society. The action targeted the adult audience with its violence, sex, dark humour and contemporary soundtrack. Eight years later Miyazaki went on to direct ‘The Castle of Cagliostro’ (Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro). The film is a continuation of the Lupin franchise that started with the television series in 1971. The emphasis is on the characters rather than the plot; a trait that Miyazaki develops over the course of his career. Even though the film is far from being one of the best examples of anime from the 1970s, the pace, comedy and willingness to show anti-heroes captures the feeling of the decade. Another example of an anime series that became global was ‘Gatchaman Science Ninjas’ (Kagaku ninja tai Gatchaman). This series originally ran from 1972 to 1974 in Japan before being renamed ‘Battle of the Planets’ when it aired in the United States in 1978. Yet again the re-dubbed, re-edited version was toned down for the Western audience, so much so that the series was moved from Earth to outer space; sequences with a robot (7-Zark-7) were added to patch the ‘safer’ storylines together, make up for the lost (edited) footage and jump on the ‘Star Wars’ R2-D2 bandwagon; exploding planes and ships were always ‘robot-controlled’ and Spectra forces constantly ejected. The original ‘Gatchaman’ series introduced characters that had feelings and motivation; there was character development and ongoing sub-plots. They sought revenge, felt jealousy and fear, had relationships, and got hurt. The villains were unabashedly evil, not misguided. The heroes didn’t always win, at least not completely.It was as if the West was still not ready to embrace anime and Manga as an art form that was acceptable for adults to enjoy. Anime was still widely seen as cartoons for children in the 1970s.
The Japanese animation industry went from strength to strength in the 1980s. It was the decade that saw the Western world finally succumb to the power of anime. This was a two-pronged attack; a Manga pincer movement. For those that still believed animation was for children there was the extraordinary global phenomenon that was ‘Transformers’, and for those that were looking for an alternative cult classic there was ‘Akira’. In 1984, American toy manufacturer Hasbro bought the rights to produce transforming robots from Japanese company Takara. To bolster the sales of their new line Hasbro decided to use anime as the frontline attack on the target audience (children). The result was the extremely successful ‘Transformer’ series. This series led to the production of the 1986 feature film, ‘Transformers: The Movie’. This was the first real evidence of American culture, in its consumer form, influencing Japanese animation. In stark contrast of the ‘animation-as-advert’, Katsuhiro Ôtomo directed the 1988 classic ‘Akira’. The film was soon to become a benchmark for anime in Japan, and across the world. This was a film that was aimed at adults with dark, subversive themes. The futuristic settings of ‘Neo-Tokyo’ were apocalyptic and tinged with doom. After ‘Akira’ it was widely accepted that anime was not just for children.
The 1990s saw anime reach mass appeal as the release of such films as ‘Patlabor’ (Kidô keisatsu patorebâ) (1990), ‘Patlabor II’ (Kidô keisatsu patorebâ 2) (1993) and ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (Kôkaku kidôtai) (1995) by Mamoru Oshii found an international audience; Hideaki Anno and Kazuya Tsurumaki’s 1997 feature ‘End of Evangelion’ (Shin seiki Evangelion Gekijô-ban: Air) followed on where the original Japanese television series left off; and of course Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘Crimson Pig’ (Kurenai no buta) (1992) and ‘Princess Mononoke’ (Mononoke-hime) (1997). The American influence was still rife as the toy industry, in particular the computer and video game market, provided the plotlines to a number of films and television series including ‘Street Fighter II: The Movie’ (1994), ‘Battle Arena Toshinden’ (1997) and the original series of the ‘next big thing’, ‘Pokémon’ (1998 onwards). In 1999, Michael Haigney and Kunihiko Yuyama directed the feature length version of the popular ‘Pokémon’ series; ‘Pokémon: The First Movie’. Whereas the 1980s saw Transformers flood the children’s market, the beginning of the new millennium saw the Japanese revenge. Pokémon originally began as a video game, on the Nintendo Gameboy: The Pokémon game was the platform for the Pokémon brand to kick-start what would become the world’s largest success story in the game-licensing card-collecting business. The video game gave the characters identities, the collection cards gave them powers, the movie added life to the brand, and word-of-mouth spread the news. The Pokémon invasion is still evident nearly ten years later as the television series is still in production, with two feature film sequels having followed the original cinematic release. The consumerism powers of America had truly influenced anime.
American Cultural Invasion
The cultural invasion from the West began in earnest at the turn of the twentieth century. Japan’s industrial revolution had been slow to start but quickly gathered momentum. By 1890 there were two hundred large steam factories where twenty years earlier there had been none; steamship tonnage increased from 15,000 to over 1,500,000 tons in the period between 1893 and 1905; and by 1896 things Western were in full fashion… derbies or straw boaters were worn with formal kimono, the big gold pocket-watch was tucked into the obi, and spectacles, whether needed or not, were esteemed as a sign of learning.” Ironically, the period when Japan found itself bowing down to the pressure of American influence was directly after fighting a war against it. When the atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki it was not just the radiation that remained in Japan. Any country that has been invaded will always have traces of the invader’s culture embedded into the normal life of its habitants. The Allied (most notably the American) control of Japan directly after the war was to allow Western influences to develop into the Japanese way of life. This influence was both highly visual as well as subliminal. America saw the clandestine operations there were not only as part of an effort to defeat Japan but also as the ‘opening wedge for post-war Southeast Asia. The Japanese were suspicious of the Western approach to education and the governing of their homeland. The Occupation, they thought, had destroyed traditional Japanese virtues and unleashed a wave of selfishness and egotism. In an interview with the elderly president of a real estate company in Oita City, author Jeffrey Broadbent discovered the feelings of the former owbers of the land: Due to American influence, the heart of our people has been lost – our way of thinking that, if it’s good for the progress of the whole, it’s good to sacrifice yourself… The Japanese strength from group unity has been lost. The other side of the coin is the very noticeable, consumer-led American cultural assault on Japan.The way in which American culture has seeped into the Japanese way of life is what Koichi Iwabuchi writes as: strategies that incorporate the viewpoint of the dominated, who long ago learned to negotiate Western culture in their consumption of media products imported fro the West. Depending on the viewpoint of the individual, culture and life in Japan, and especially that in the densely populated areas, are influenced by the same commercial culture that defines the American way of life today. Japanese streets are now littered with the flashing neon signs that are found (admittedly all over the world) adorning the pavements of any American town or city. Western branding has left its mark on Japan. The American phenomenon of the fast-food culture such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Baskin-Robbins, and other outlets dominate the Japanese urbanscape more than in America. As a matter of fact the first Disneyland outside the United States was built in Japan. Even when taking into consideration the immense popularity of Japanese culture (for example, the growth of Yo! Sushi restaurants in the UK) and the West’s embracing of Eastern philosophies (in this case Shinto and Buddhism), it is safe to say that Japanese culture has been more extensively shaped by its American counterpart than vice versa. If it is indeed true that Japan’s exports of products and manufactured goods far outweighs its imports, then it is also true that Japan imports vastly more information about or from the United States than the other way round.
Japan is today regarded as one of the leading powers in the world especially in the representation of its national media; the Japanese population of more than 120 million people and its economic wealth make the Japanese audiovisual market, along with that of the United States, one of the only two self-sufficient markets in the world. However, this does not mean that foreign popular culture is no longer consumed in Japan; American popular culture has continued to strongly influence and saturate Japan. Japan is one of the biggest buyers of Hollywood movie and many Japanese television formats and concepts are also deeply influenced by and borrowed from American programmes; yet the format is quite often changed to make it more suitable to a Japanese audience: “What was marked as foreign and exotic yesterday can become familiar today and traditionally Japanese tomorrow”. Kosaku Yoshino writes that although Japan has developed a ‘relative maturity’ of its cultural industries, it still hasn’t found itself fully expanding on the exportation of its television programming and films to other regions of the world. This ‘unexportability’ of Japanese media can be explained by the term ‘cultural discount’: “A particular programme rooted in one culture and thus attractive in that environment will have a diminished appeal elsewhere as viewers find it difficult to identify with the style, values, beliefs, institutions and behavioural patterns of the material in question. Included in the cultural discount are reductions in appreciation due to dubbing or subtitling. The biggest media products that the Japanese have managed to export, despite cultural discount, is Manga and anime; but is this due to American cultural influences shaping the genre into a more Western-friendly medium?
Case Study 1 – ‘Alakazam the Great’ (Saiyu-ki)
Case Study 1 – ‘Alakazam the Great’ (Saiyu-ki)
The first example of a Japanese animation that has been influenced by American culture is the 1960 feature, ‘The Enchanted Monkey’ (Saiyu-ki), directed by Daisaku Shirakawa, Taiji Yabushita and Osamu Tezuka for Toei Studios. It was released in America as ‘Alakazam the Great’ in an attempt to win a bigger audience by moving away from the emphasis of the ancient Eastern tale, the story is a retelling of part of the epic Chinese classic ‘The Journey to the West’ (Xiyouji), written by Wu Cheng-En in the sixteenth century. The title name-change and the subsequent character name-changes point to the influence that America held over Japanese culture at the time. The original story chronicles the many encounters of Sanzo, a monk who travels from China to India to obtain a copy of the original Buddhist scriptures to bring back to his country and teach the purity of Siddharta’s original messages. In Osamu Tezuka’s film the star of the show is not Sanzo but Son Goku, the monkey king. Son Guko is a talented but arrogant warrior that is sent on a journey by Buddha to learn the virtues of humility and compassion. However, when re-dubbed and released in the United States the characters changed.
Sanzo became ‘Prince Amat’ and turns out to be the son of Buddha. Buddha in turn is named ‘King Amo’, Sir Quigley (Pigze), Lulipopo (Sandy), and Son Goku is renamed the titular ‘Alakazam’.
Considering the fact that the storyline was centuries old there is more than a passing resemblance between the character of Alakazam (Son Guko) and the way in which Japan was seen by the rest of the world. In the tale the protagonist is king of his surroundings (Japan in the late 1930s and early 1940s) before he discovers the existence of a people that are more powerful than him. In an attempt to beat them he sneaks into their world and begins a pre-emptive strike against them (Pearl Harbour attack). He is then disciplined by a greater being (America) before being allowed to continue his journey under the agreement that he learns from his mistakes (the Occupation and the subsequent acceptance into the United Nations). I believe the fact that Tezuka decided to use the story to create this, the third Japanese feature length animation, demonstrates an understanding of the ever present American dominance over Japan.
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The aesthetics of the production borrow from the American animations of the time. In the post-war period it was evident that the biggest influence on the explosion of Manga style artwork came from the imports of European and American comic books and animation. The most famous being the work from the studios of Walt Disney. Osamu Tezuka was originally a Manga artist before he became involved with anime. His style and technique was heavily influenced by Disney (he admitted to watching ‘Bambi’ 80 times and ‘Snow White’ 50 times).” The studio that he worked for, Toei, strived for that same cross-cultural, cross-generational appeal of Disney, albeit using more Asian scenarios. Considering that he had studied Disney’s ‘Bambi’ to the point of obsession it is not surprising to learn that “Tezuka noted how Bambi’s childish attributes, such as his big eyes and large head, were an ideal way of conveying complex emotions.” The influence of the West is truly evident in this film, and many that followed it.
Case Study 2 ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (Kôkaku kidôtai) (1995)
Case Study 2 ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (Kôkaku kidôtai) (1995)
The second film I am looking at in detail is ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (Kôkaku kidôtai) (1995), directed by Mamoru Oshii. It is widely accepted that anime has been inspired by a number of different factors that draws simultaneously on medieval Japanese traditions, on American cyberpunk styles, and on an imagery of ethnic and cultural mixture (of the sort envisioned in Blade Runner) that never quite evokes any specific human society, but that in various ways hints of the American dream of a multicultural society and suggests the extent to which the American science fiction film has become a key narrative type for much of contemporary culture.” This ‘cyberpunk’ culture has been lapped up by the Japanese and features heavily in Manga and anime. Perhaps the most famous writers and contributors to this particular genre are William Gibson, author of the cult ‘Neuromancer’ and Philip K. Dick, author of ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, the novel that was the basis of the 1982 classic ‘Blade Runner’.
Both these writers provided a futuristic world that could be further advanced by the medium of animation. The plot of ‘Ghost in the Shell’ parallels ‘Neuromancer’ very closely, except that rather than an artificial intelligence seeking to be free by merging with its better half, an artificial life form (the Puppet Master) seeks to free itself by merging with the protagonist (cyborg Major Motoko Kusangi).
Developing similar themes to Gibson and Dick, Oshii’s interest in mankind’s over-reliance on technology is brought to a logical conclusion in ‘Ghost in the Shell’, which foregrounds fundamental questions about what it is to be human in an increasingly computerised cyberworld, where a computer programme gains sentience and also questions its own function in the acquisition of power, autonomy and longevity.” In ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ and later ‘Blade Runner’ the plot and characterisation are centred on the struggle to determine what is human and what is machine.
It can be argued that ‘Neuromancer’ borrows from modern Eastern culture as the locale is set in Japan, however, it is the significance of the characters rather than the setting that has cemented it as a science-fiction classic. In Dick’s novel, the opening image of the book, comparing nature to technology, sets the tone of this narrative. The protagonist, ‘Case’ is a combination of man and machine; a now common trait amongst Cyberpunk literature and animation.It is this imagery that Oshii has borrowed from the West that has provided the background to his work; ‘Blade Runner’ has been labelled as one of the finest examples of post-noir with its anti-heroes, atmospheric lighting and dark storylines, and Oshii replicates this in his film. He uses sound, and in particular the score written by Kenji Kawai’s to achieve an emotional response from the viewer that is a million miles from any Disney cartoon. He presents ‘Ghost in the Shell’ with the feeling of a bona fide film noir that just happens to be an anime production.
As such Oshii has admittedly borrowed American ideas, themes and culture but he has formed his own creative style out of it. He uses the medium not only to entertain but to put forward questions of morality to an audience that are not treated like children: Oshii develops the form by refusing innocence and indifference, insisting upon only the maturity of the medium. Indeed, while in an accessible, orthodox model, it only advances the case further that all animation is in some sense experimental, even within populist forms.”
From my research I have drawn the conclusion that Japanese animation has indeed been influenced by twentieth century American culture. This has happened side by side with the country as a whole accepting elements of Western popular culture. As early as the beginning of the century under the leadership of Emperor Meiji Japan began to embrace the West after years of being an insular island race. It was immediately after the end of the Second World War, when Japan was occupied by the Americans under General MacArthur from 1945 to 1951, that the floodgates opened. American ‘control’ influenced education, culture and general living. Whereas the older generation saw this as Japan ‘losing its heart’ the younger generation thought of it as a fresh start. This is evident in Japan’s rise to power in the 1960s onwards. The Feudal system of Japan that had reigned until 1868 had been disregarded; the way of the samurai had been supplanted by the power of the microchip. The nation had taken on board American culture and adjusted it for their own purpose. This ability to progress with outside influences paved the way for animators such as Kazuhiko Okabe, Taiji Yabushita, Osamu Tezuka, Hayao Miyazaki, Katsuhiro Ôtomo and Mamoru Oshii.
It is worthy of note that it has not completely been one-way traffic. The Japanese animators have been influenced by American culture (Disney, comic books, Cyberpunk, etc.) but in turn the Americans, and the West, have imported attributes specifically found in Manga and anime. The creative team behind ‘The Matrix’ trilogy, Andy and Larry Wachowski, are Japanese anime fans and were the driving force behind the 2003 animated film ‘The Animatrix’. Advertising agencies in the United States have also picked up on the popularity of anime with the Coca Cola group producing the ‘Obey Your Thirst Voltron’ campaign, combining anime and hip-hop to sell Sprite.Sales of Manga comics and picture novels in North America grew over 40 per cent to $140 million in 2004.
This trend was also boosted when director Hayao Miyazaki won the Oscar for Best A
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