Rural Japan in Anime – Beautiful, Powerful, and the Root of Japanese Identity


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One aspect of anime that I find particularly interesting is the depiction, and use of the countryside. There are a number of series such as Durarara that focus exclusively on the big city, looking at under classes, dark dealings, and the more shadowy elements of society. But when a series is set in, or uses the countryside, we are often presented with a very different vision of Japan, especially if the series also focuses on school children (which a significant number of them do). Read more of this post

Construction of gendered identities within the school environment


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As I have pointed out in previous posts, anime provides a dream world where the audience can escape from their everyday lives in a world of fantasy. Some anime may take the fantasy element literally, with series set in magical worlds, or in futuristic science fiction settings or dystopian landscapes, but others present a more subtle form of escapism, one where the escape is into the everyday. This everyday is often highly idealised and romanticised, and predominantly takes place in or around school grounds. One of the central themes that most recent anime share (at least those series set in or around school) is the position of school in the central characters lives, and how comparatively little importance is placed upon formal education and all that it encompasses. Instead, the school grounds become important as a space where ‘family’ relationships are created and reshaped. Read more of this post

The ‘Family’ in School Centric Anime


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The world of dreams and fantasies that school centric anime portray further allows them to explore the complex nature of the Japanese family and its place within Japanese society. The ‘Japanese Family’ is full of diversity, with differences and differentiations depending on social class, historical cultures, legal cultures, and economic conditions (White, 2011). There is not a single, all-encompassing ‘Japanese Family’, although the Meiji Government (1868-1912) attempted to create one with their reinterpretation of the ‘ie’ household (extended family based on patrilineal descent). This version of the Japanese family became a matter of state concern in the establishment of a modern nation, but it only exists because of the force of ideology and power promoting it; it is a dream of what a family should be, rather than what it is (White, 2011; 129). The family is often viewed by the state as a continuation of its power, ideology and morals, a unit that recreates social and cultural norms and can pass down a sense of belonging to something substantially larger than itself. It is therefore essential to have a solid family structure in place in order to create society, and to engender the moral imperatives of honour, self-sacrifice, and pride. Read more of this post

‘Animating’ society


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Anime is a fascinating cultural artefact, with over 50% of Japanese studios producing animated works instead of live action, thus demonstrating a shift in the Japanese studio system from live action films of the 1950s and 1960s to one focussed on anime as its primary product. This shift to the animated medium means that anime is arguably one of, if not the best way with which we can explore Japan’s depiction of its own society and culture. The wide variety of anime, ranging from early morning children’s shows through to late afternoon/early evening series focussed for families and then onto edgier, often darker series for teenagers or those in there twenties is astounding. Such wide variety of series and anime’ broader appeal puts it in an important place within contemporary Japanese culture; whereas traditional culture such as Sa-do, Kyu-do and Ka-do have been refined over centuries and are the very basics of Japanese culture, anime is a relatively recent phenomenon, starting in 1963 with the release of Osamu Tezuka’s legendary Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy). Furthermore, whereas traditional culture is often focussed on the self, a form of meditation and a path to Zen enlightenment, anime provides a fascinating and important means with which we can view Japanese society and culture, along with the issues that are important at any given time. Read more of this post

Hanasaku Iroha – Review


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