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There are many pop cultures common in the United States today, most of which originated from abroad. Today modern day America includes a variety of music, food, clothing, and art that can be traced to other areas of the world. Neighborhoods like Chinatown consist of mainly food, clothing, music, and people from China. In the same way various cultures can be seen in our civilization today, but not limited to communities, and ethnicities. One of the fastest growing culture in America is Anime, a Japanese Art style that made it’s way to the United States through Manga, Anime, and Video-Games. Anime has become a popular culture in the United States.
Unlike Cartoons, there are multiple categories of anime directed towards different age groups, even adults. A Shonen, which means “young boy" in Japanese, is typically an action-battle manga with a slight amount of comedy. Shojo, which means “girl,” is typically a romantic story. A Seinen is usually directed towards mature male audiences, and usually consists of sex, drugs, and extreme violence. There are other sub categories such as mecha, supernatural, tragedy and others. Anime is more appealing to a Western audience because it has a wide variety categories.
Anime sometimes consists of an iconic hero that overcomes multiple problems to reach a goal. In an anime the iconic hero is on a continuous journey to achieve a certain goal or to reach a destination. One anime consists of a boy named Luffy who aspires to become the pirate king by obtaining all the treasure in the world called the One Piece. Another is a boy named Naruto who is loathed by his village because a demon who attacked his village was imprisoned in his body, so he seeks to become hokage, head ninja, in order for people to respect him. Anime Heroes have a unique characteristic that is popular with the American audience. Some anime characters possess unique will, mental, or physical power, or their sense of morality. In Shonen anime they usually have an underdog who surpasses everyone's expectations through improbable mean. The underdog usually has a unique power or ability no one would suspect. An iconic hero grabs the attention of an American audience.
Anime is mostly big through its style. There are unique styles that are used in anime to grab people's attention. Explosive battle scenes give the anime exciting flare and gives the audience the feeling of actually being in the show. Anime incorporates Japanese culture such as samurais, shinigamis (demons), and ninjas. They also have special character effects such as a sweat drop on a character’s head to symbolize embarrassment, blue lines for depression, grey stoned faces for shock, and nose bleeds for when characters reach a high level of perversion. Transformation is another style that makes anime so unique, like goku turning into a super saiyan. Anime has the characters with outrageous hair like spiky hair or big afros.
Anime is a motion picture adaptation. It can attract Americans with Subtitled/Voice over or DUB. Popping visuals attract the audience with bright colors and childlike facial appearances. Unique soundtracks gives anime a different type of music liked for its uniqueness. Popularized phrases sometimes leave memorable phrases for the viewer. If you think of Dragon Ball Z you think of the phrase “over 9,000” or “kamehameha.”
Video Games and Cosplay
Video games helped expand anime. Japanese video games made its way into America through many likable traits. Video games sometimes use anime character styles that catches a lot of attention to the players. Genres of games sometimes incorporates anime such as Final Fantasy and Pokémon. Many popular anime have had video game adaptations made and have sold well. Some examples are Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm, One Piece Pirate Warriors, Persona, Sword Art Online, and Attack On Titan.
Cosplaying anime characters is a trend that has also expanded to the United States. Cosplaying is the combined words of “costume” and “play” that was created by Western anime fans. It mainly focuses on westerners dressing up as their favorite character, anime or otherwise, with their friends for fun. San Diego Comic-Con now include Anime, showing just how popular the Art has become in America. Not just Comic-Con but other anime cons in the US attract 10,000 cosplayers each year. Anime Expo and Otakon are one of the biggest anime conventions in the world. Anime conventions are more like social gatherings of anime enthusiasts who enjoy anime, wanting to meet new friends, and just hanging out while being dressed as their favorite anime or video game character. Cons offer a list of activities that really show a deep respect for Japanese culture. It's not just Japanese cultures but also anime and manga.
Fandom and "Otakus"
A lot of westerners who have a love of anime and manga are often called Otakus. Otaku is a Japanese term for people with a high interest of anime and manga fandom. American Otakus sometimes devote themselves to watching or reading their favorite anime/manga or are interested in a large array of manga or anime. Otakus sometimes have different behaviors than just reading a lot of manga or watching anime, they sometimes are collectors. Collectors tend to collect manga, anime, figurines, props and just about everything. Another behavior is being a show watcher, they devote their lives watching anime of interest for the love of it. Some people watch Anime and or read manga to learn more about Japanese culture and to appreciate the art.
Anime fandoms are possibly spreading the most in the United States. Fandoms are a group of individuals who share the same interest into a show, movie and just about anything. Anime fandoms are spread through just about anything including social media. They share their love of specific anime or manga for all those who may have interest and spread its influence.
What makes a anime fandom is a deep love for Japanese culture and an open mind. A well known form of anime fandom is fan fiction. Fan fiction lets the fan create stories of their favorite show to be observed by others and to allow their fantasies to come true. In a anime fandom there are two elements that gives it meaning. The first element is to have a highly interactive nature such as having clubs and conventions. It also should have people who are on the same wavelength or psychological level and know each other's ideas. The second element is subcultural capital, the knowledge a person gains from an object of another person's enthusiasm to not only to feel comfortable with other like minded fans, but to also gain respect from other fans. It is these two elements that creates anime fandom that expands to the farthest reaches of the world.
Artists and Creators
Great anime and manga creators get great recognition from people outside of their country. An anime or manga writer can get a lot of respect from their work from even in the United States. One of the greatest anime creators of our time is Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki has been said to be a master storyteller who has been said to create anime films to even rival Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, and Orson Welles. Two of his famous pieces were even aired in the US. One of them was a film named Ponyo that was aired in 2008. Another was a film called The Wind Rises that was aired in 2014. Another famous anime creator is Yoshiyuki Tomino who is a well known mecha anime creator. One his most well known animes in America is the Gundam series. He also created the Astro Boy 1963 anime series.
The Manga artist Akira Toriyama was the proud creator of the Dragon Ball series. This was his greatest work as it became one of the most famous manga series in the world. He is a member of Jump, the #1 best selling and longest running manga magazine in the world, and well known for his Shonen type manga. Osamu Tezuka was a famous manga creator who created the Astro Boy manga back in 1952. Another piece of his work was Kimba the White Lion that was published in 1950 that later became an anime that was aired the United States in 1965. Even though these creators started their work in Japan, they later became worldwide artists that had their work reach the farthest parts of the world.
Well Known Anime and Manga
There are many iconic anime and manga series that are well known in the US. Some of which are still known even though it's been years since they’ve been last aired, and some are just so popular that their still ongoing. One famous Anime would be the Naruto series. The Naruto series started in 1999 as a manga series then became an anime in 2002 and aired until 2007. It was the third best selling manga series in history selling 220 million copies worldwide and became one of North America's best selling manga series. The show was so popular they made a second installment of the show renamed Naruto Shippuden that started in 2007 and is still ongoing. Another famous show/manga would be the One Piece series that started in 1997 as a manga. The show has sold 320 million manga copies worldwide making it the #1 best selling manga series in history breaking the Guinness World record for the most copies published for the same comic book series by a single author. The One Piece anime is still going today and probably will end around the 2020s. Dragon Ball is a good well known anime in the west that had a good run until it ended in June 2015 but was brought back in the Dragon Ball Super series. It was a successful anime in America, releasing numerous games and movies and even a soundtrack. Thanks to its large popularity in America, viewers in the US would be able to identify the show with ease. Pokémon is among the most well known anime in the United States. Pokémon uses its trademark character Pikachu to attract an audience that have never even seen it but would still be able to identify it.
In a majority of animes there is a memorable and unique setting not seen, or shown the same in other anime. In the anime Naruto, the hometown of the protagonist, Naruto, is “The Leaf Village,” or “Village Hidden in the Leaves”. The leaf village is a town in the heart of a dense forest area, the village is surrounded by large white walls, and within the town there is a large mountain with the faces of past leaders sculpted on it. In the same way the anime One Piece the setting is usually a large bright blue ocean filled with large monsters called sea kings. These settings are unique only to that anime and will rarely be seen in other anime.
Anime based games also gain some recognition like normal animes. People who play video games can learn of an anime because sometimes the game contains a character from an anime. Take Mega Man for example, Mega Man is one of the most well known video game characters around. What people could find out is that Mega Man was also a anime character too. Mega Man the series was the name of the show and it was based off the video game. Many games have sort of an adaptation to anime if their very popular. Final Fantasy is also another example, it was based off the videogame Final Fantasy. Not just anime, but manga can also be based off video games. The Legend Of Zelda is also a manga that was based off the Zelda video game. This method has spread to around the world influencing others.
Another great way that an anime gets well known is through merchandising. Merchandising can get a anime well known through props, clothes, cups, and posters. You can see a Pikachu backpack to a Naruto headband. Anime merchandising can be found almost everywhere, including the United States. A great anime can get well known through products and clothing advertising it.
Anime in the Norm
Anime has reached to the top famous pop cultures and is still expanding to this day. A cultural art style born in Japan can expand to the farthest reaches of the world and can be world renowned. Pop culture shouldn’t be limited to a single country, instead it should be expanded so that others can learn to respect and adore it for all those who want to enjoy it. Anime has reached the hearts of a people outside of its country and to influence others with it. Anime has come a long way to become one of the largest pop cultures to exist.