Cultural Studies Paper on Japanese Popular Culture

Cultural Studies Paper on Japanese Popular Culture

Emergence and Globalization of Japanese Popular Culture

The rise and globalization of the Japanese culture is one of the irrefutable global occurrences in the late twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries. Globalization refers to the process of international integration as a result of international exchange of ideas, views among other cultural elements.  For instance, the Japanese animation, manga or comic books are part of the culture that has attracted youth across the globe. Films such as the Godzilla that are part of the nation’s culture are found in supermarket cases in America and its fashion is also part of chic definition both in Asia and Europe. In this paper, I will first discuss the emergence and globalization of the Japanese popular culture after the World War I. Afterwards, I will analyze the character of the Japanese anime using the reading of Chambers, S. Nicole journal in support of my argument as to why the Japanese anime culture became influential among the American population.

Over the past century and a half, the influence of the Japanese popular culture globally has been prevalent, particularly in terms of elite art forms. After the WW II, the Japanese culture became globalized in many nations across the globe with big city art houses screened with Japanese popular culture works of Kurosawa Akira and Ozu Yasujiro. The global increase of the Japanese culture after the WWII and its global appeal was triggered by several factors.

It is significant to note that the post war Japanese popular culture originates from a historic viewpoint of Japanese graphic traditions. Additionally, the origin of the Japanese popular culture creativity is also attributed to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is apparent that the Japanese population has never come to terms with the defeat in the WWII and the occupation of the United States. According to West (382), most of the Japanese post war popular culture was influenced by the United States products and actions. This situation has continued to leave Japan forever infantilized. Therefore, the only way the Japanese have resorted in solving the tension in the post war period is through popular culture. Consequently, in the popular cinema, manga, video games and animation of the Japanese culture involve an irrational replication of destruction, nuclear mutation, technological diversion among other themes and images that allow the post-war Japan find some element of conclusion, surrender as well as the dependence on America. These popular culture representations alongside the global wealthy population and a high population of young post-war consumers globally who are eager for mass entertainment explains the popularity of the Japanese contemporary popular culture.  According to West (111), “Early Japanese Animation in the United States: Changing Tetsuwan Atomu to Astro Boy,” Brian Ruh meticulously demonstrates that, from its very beginnings, Japanese anime often considered the export market.

The ability of the Japanese popular culture to be embraced globally has given the nation soft powers with regards to international affairs. This is an element that enables a nation to engage with others internationally in what is referred to as transnational flows of capital, economy, people, ideas as well as artifacts, in this case form a Japanese perspective (Iwabuchi np).

Globalization of Japanese Anime film

One of the movies I have watched is the Toy Story 3. This is among the Oscar winning animation movie together with its Pixar title that attracted a big audience and demonstrates the Japanese culture. One of the element that made me love Pixar films is the careful animation involved. Among the major characteristics I have noted with the Pixar films is their ability to leave the audience with a future reference the past and future movies for the guest to look for. Generally, Anime film, which is part of the Japanese culture has become successful globally.

There are several reasons as to why the Japanese anime films have become popular. The first reason is the films were established in many nations as a form of entertainment for children. The comics and as well as the animations entailed is part of children’s early childhood entertainment not only in Japan but also in other parts of the world. Despite their Japanese originality, the movement and appearance enabled them to gain a universal appeal.

Secondly, the Japanese anime films popularity growth was as a result of their creativity. This is because their scope and artistic freedom, which granted them to incorporate occurrences in the anime, for instance, children fighting demons or monsters. For example, the history of anime breakthrough in the American culture was through the famous Astro Boy that was initially referred to as Tensuan Atom (Mighty Atom). It involved a story of a gallant robot child created by an inventor who had lost his true child. After the Astro Boy, many American organization, for instance, NBC enterprises started getting numerous titles form Japanese production organizations as a result of this crearivity. For example, Kimba the White Lion (Jungulu Taitei Leo). Many anime fans believe that this was the original version of The Lion King whose idea was stolen by Disney.

Thirdly, the Japanese anime films popularity globally was triggered by its high quality and its well established industry. Most of the anime films success were cemented in people’s minds, which to them the Japanese anime was equivalent to quality. For instance, despite their originality, many Americans adopted them and as a way of demonstrating the titles in the American children television. Most production organizations deleted scenes that were considered extreme violent and changed the direct translations for redubbing as well as changing the plot lines so that they could be socially acceptable by audiences.

There are several reasons as to how the anime films became popular. In the first place, anime started to expand among other genres like live actions movies in the United States, hence becoming successful in the continent. Anime content in some instances contained vices hence making them appear human. Furthermore, the Japanese cultured anime content involved androgyny as well as adult language and pornography, which was allowed for adult entertainment. Death was also acknowledged as a suitable topic for children anime. According to the Japanese anime popular culture, death was considered as part of life through in some instances allowing characters to die in several American shows hence being associated with many audiences (Chambers 95).

The second reason as to how the anime became popular was as a result of huge fan groups of the films that later emerged across the United States mainly in institutions of higher learning and later in high schools and entertainment clubs. Before mid-1990s, the Japanese anime popular culture had attracted a huge fan base in the West. This was significant in creating the basis upon which bigger popular shows like Pokemon prospered, which solidified anime’s appearance in the American media. Regardless of the anime’s emerging popularity in America, most viewers who began the fan clubs started realizing the magnitude in which the anime had been changed through Americanization and some were disappointed. Nonetheless, these huge fan base in America started the fan representing sensation, which has continued to establish a huge market for anime in the United States today, which is a Japanese culture. For instance, cartoon segments like the Cartoon Network’s popular Toonami act as regular anime outlets in the American shows (Chambers 96). In the current American culture, many people have produced adult focused animation, for instance, Family Guy and Futurama, which is a Japanese oriented anime model that has allowed the animated material that is not strictly oriented for children.

In this essay, I have analyzed how and why Japan was able to get out of the events that took place during the WW II through globalization to be acknowledged as a great nation through its popular culture soft power. I used the example of the popular Japanese anime or animation to explain how this popular culture became a major element in America and the West having some similarities with the American movies through animations characters in films that created a huge fun base. I have acknowledged the fact that globalization of Japanese culture played a significant role in ensuring that the nation maintains other forms of development, for instance economy hence becoming one of the global power through the soft power.


Chambers, Samantha Nicole Inëz. “Anime: From cult following to Pop culture phenomenon.” Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications 3.2 (2012).

Iwabuchi, Koichi. Recentering globalization: Popular culture and Japanese transnationalism. Duke University Press, 2002.

Walls, Jan W., and David Hayward. East-West identities: Globalization, localization, and hybridization. Brill, 2007.

West, Mark I., ed. The Japanification of children’s popular culture: from godzilla to miyazaki. Scarecrow Press, 2008.