Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Cartoon and Japanese Society Essay

Japan’s animation boom began in the summer of l977, when the movie Uchu Senkan Yamato (Space Cruiser Yamato) captivated teenagers and young adults to emerge as a major box-office hit. The success of this sci-fi â€Å"anime† prompted a fundamental shift in the cultural status of animation. Even before Space Cruiser Yamato, Japan had produced a considerable number of animated films, but they were generally regarded as children’s fare or, at best, family entertainment; the few adult-oriented animated movies were not successful commercially. Space Cruiser Yamato was the first anime to demonstrate that the medium need not restrict itself to kiddies fare. Following suit, from the late l970s, Japan put out a steady stream of animated films geared to young adults, including Ginga Tetsudo 999 (Galaxy Express 999) and Kido Senshi Gandamu (Mobile Suit Gundam). Most of these were commercial successes as well, although critics dismissed these as exploitation films pandering to teenage taste. The attitude of film critics changed abruptly, however, with the 1984 release of Kaze no Tani no Naushica (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind), a film whose artistic quality was widely regarded as more than sufficient to hold the attention of adults. With this movie, writer-director Miyazaki Hayao overturned the conventional image of the anime director as a versatile hack, and was soon crowned as anime’s first genuine auteur. Of course, not all anime rose to the level of non-juvenile entertainment or art. In fact, in the late 1980s, with young adult anime showing signs of staleness, the focus began to revert to children’s films. Nevertheless, the genre never relinquished the commercial foothold it had gained during the young adult anime craze; furthermore, Miyazaki began to enjoy a large degree of freedom in his filmmaking, as did several other directors who subsequently achieved the status of anime auteur. The results of those efforts, particularly the anime produced by Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, are not simply movies with high box-office potential; they are in many instances artistically superior to the live-action films made in Japan, and they have won growing legions of fans overseas. During the 1990s, animation, spearheaded by the work of a few anime auteurs, emerged as the face of Japanese film, positioning Japan as the worlds undisputed â€Å"anime superpower. † And in 1997 — a full twenty years since anime took off — animation’s preeminence over live-action films in Japan was more apparent than ever. In a matter of months after its release, Mononoke-hime (Princess Mononoke), Miyazaki’s latest film to date which was then alleged to be his last directorial effort, broke every box-office record to become the biggest domestic movie hit of all time in Japan. In the languishing field of young adult anime, the avant garde sci-fi work Shin Seiki Evangerion (Neon Genesis Evangelion) scored a major box-office hit and won a huge cult following. Moreover, children’s anime are as popular as ever. In all, it appears that anime has taken center stage in the Japanese film industry, pushing live-action movies into the wings. Kenji (2002) opined that Animation became popular in Japan as it provided an alternative format of storytelling compared to the underdeveloped live-action industry in Japan. Unlike America, where live-action shows and movies have generous budgets, the live-action industry in Japan is a small market and suffered from budgeting, location, and casting restrictions. The lack of Western-looking actors, for example, made it next to impossible to shoot films set in Europe, America, or fantasy worlds that do not naturally involve Asians. The varied use of animation allowed artists to create characters and settings that did not look Japanese at all Now a bit about how animation gets to wherever you are today. In the dusty yet not-so-long-ago time, when old cities began to get overweight and thus suburban areas started to be a new synonym for the term ‘eyesore’, the post-LSD generation of the Northern hemisphere imported anime from the Land of the Rising Sun at approximately the pace of a snail-mail package sent from Alabama to Tibet. The riotous 1970’s has just received enlightenment in this field of concern — the quicker-witted Americans in the industry started to stop calling non-human-non-nature-non-animal motion pictures ‘cartoons’ and have used the word ‘animation’. Naturally the content of slim boxes of taped animation movies embarking there was then called ‘Japanese animation, and for the convenience of those who tend to misspell anything more than three-lettered it was promptly squeezed into ‘Japanimation’, so no wonder that they still misspell it. Anyway, no derogatory wink was involved in the term ‘Japanimation’ — it’s just a matter of geoprofile for the product that has come in faster and in bulk during 1980’s. The malicious intent is not there, if you really are so paranoid about such things; it is for instance in the term ‘Japornimation’, for which the Yoshiwara might have had an influence (i. e. modern sexually explicit and repulsively bloody anime movies). Meanwhile, in 1990’s someone (probably the same person who snail-mailed from Alabama to Tibet) informed the Northerners that the Japanese themselves have always called the thing ‘animation’. From then on ‘animation’ often replaces ‘Japanimation’ in the lexicon, but it didn’t blast the old word out of circulation — usually attached to the ‘Old School’ of diehard, seasoned, loyal and zealous anime fans (‘otaku’) among the Americans, it is still valid to use ‘Japanimation’ today in any case of generally useless elaboration such as this, plus the term ‘anime’ is seen as too wide to refer to just the characteristic Japanese product — ‘anime’ could mean the entire baggage this planet must carry in the form of every kind of animation, including Beavis & Butthead.

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