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March 2021

Cultural Article

Introduction of Japanese Anime and Manga

by Tomomi Dodd

A number of Japanese anime/manga have been produced in the past. They have been translated to many languages, and been popular all over the world. In this article, I would like to briefly describe the history of anime/manga in Japan, and introduce some of the most popular ones.

The history of Japanese anime started from “Tetsuwan Atomu”(Astro Boy) in the 1930s. Since then, many anime were produced and introduced to the world. It is said that watching the anime “Captain Tsubasa” influenced Frenchman Zinedine Yazid Zidane’s aspirations to become a soccer player. Now Japanese anime is very important in serving as a soft power while promoting the “Cool Japan” image to the world, particularly with regards to popularizing Japanese culture and bolstering the economy.

Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer) has been very popular in Japan since last year. The pure and positive hero fights hard to return his sister, who has become a demon, back into a human. The story takes place in Japan’s Taishō-era (1912 – 1926). If you watch this show, you can see some parts of Japanese culture, such as scenery of downtown Tokyo during this historic time period and kimono. You can watch it now on Netflix-U.S.A. with English subtitles.

Above is the official English dub trailer for Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba from Anipliex USA.

One Piece is another world famous anime/manga I would like to mention. A shared dream of all boys, it depicts the story of a boy who wants to become the pirate king, embarks out to sea, and goes through adventures with his friends. I like One Piece as it has dynamic and touching stories, which teach important ethics to readers, as well as giving viewers/readers moments to laugh.

Watch the 20th opening theme, "Hope," from One Piece with English subs (published by Funimation).

Studio Ghibli Inc. is a Japanese animation film studio. It is known for the high quality of its filmmaking and its artistry. The Studio Ghibli films do not only have interesting stories with beautiful and attractive pictures and music, but also have moral values that appeal to viewers from children to adults. Each movie has some sort of background setting that raises social issues, such as human rights and environmental issues, to viewers. My most favorite film from Studio Ghibli is “Spirited Away” (2001). It shows a girl’s personal and mental growth at a bathhouse after she gets spirited away to a fantastical world. In my opinion, the charms of this film are the strange and humane story setting and interesting characters. Studio Ghibli films are now available on HBO Max with English subtitles.

Japanese marketing image of Spirited Away by Studio Ghibli Inc.

Japanese anime/manga is now loved by various people all over the world. This pandemic has been challenging for everyone, but is also a good opportunity to discover new things as you have more time to spend at home. I hope you can find a new Japanese anime/manga to enjoy.


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