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Astrojuan: Japanese Anime as a Vessel for the Rise of Interest in Japanese Culture in the Philippines

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Nico Kristan J. Tupas

Mr. Gino Dizon

EN12: R38

18 March 2012

AstroJuan: Japanese Anime as a vessel for the rise of interest in Japanese culture in the Philippines

Anime, what is it? "The word "anime", contrary to popular belief, is not the Japanese word for animation. Though the word is used in Japan to describe animation, it is actually derived from a French word. Anime in the U.S. refers specifically to Japanese animation, which in and of itself is a unique style of storytelling and film making. In the United States, where animation and film are separated mediums, in Japan they are one in the same." (Barlow, "What is Anime?"). Anime encompasses various genres, age groups, and niches; unlike the common notion of American cartoons that animation should only be geared towards children. This may be because anime also focuses on more serious themes such as death, sex, violence, politics, religion, war and more.

Over time, anime series often change and develop; the plots become more involved and complex; the characters grow physically, emotionally, or spiritually, some die, or be reborn into a new entity. What adds to the appeal of anime is that it is often unpredictable, complex, and the depth of the storyline and the emotions the characters portray have a distinct contrast as to what American cartoons can offer.

According to Jean Leek Ping, "It is important to have at least a little amount of understanding in Japanese Culture to understand anime." ("Anime Culture"). The following paragraphs show some of the different aspects of Japanese Culture that are present in anime.

Although an anime may be dubbed in English, many Japanese "add-ons" are left attached to characters' names. These prefixes and suffixes do not have direct English translations, but their meaning is easily understood. Such as the suffix -sama for utmost respect; -san for general politeness; -chan for endearment; and -kun is often added to the end of a young man's name. These are honorifics used in terms of respect and degrees of closeness to the person being named.

Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) are evident in many anime, including Peacock King and X 1999. In Japan, blossom-viewing parties and picnics are standard fare during the springtime, when the flowers fall as thick as snow. Sakura are also considered to be a symbol of a life cut tragically short and, for this reason, they are often added during a death scene to give the anime that extra dramatic flair. Ping also stated that "There is also the Japanese notion of mono no aware--that beauty is increased by transience, and that all deep beauty is therefore also sad--has great importance. Cherry blossoms are the classic example; they are all the more beautiful because they are so short-lived." ("Anime Culture").

According to Sugimoto, "In anime, bravery, loyalty and heroism does not have to have a point; it is valuable in itself. Thus, someone dying for the wrong cause is just as heroic as death for the right cause. Dying a heroic death will also not necessarily guarantee success to the survivors. Anime characters routinely sacrifice their lives willingly for a cause that may not succeed. ." ("Modern Japanese Culture", 256-257). This adds to the sense of realism and suspense that anime instills to the viewer, because there is no guarantee that the righteous ones and true love will win

Anime also shows different aspects of traditional Japanese culture - the wearing of kimono, the traditional clothes of the Japanese people; the practice of different Japanese martial arts such as Karate, Kendo and Judo; Their system of beliefs based on Shintoism and Buddhism.

"Actually, anime and its influence were already present at that time in Philippine TV. It's just that we don't notice it because of two reasons: We haven't grasped the idea of anime yet, and that the anime that we are watching is coming from an American title." (MMX, "The History of Anime in the Philippines").

Anime in the Philippines started and later developed in Philippine television. Voltes V was the first anime that was shown in the Philippines during the late part of the 1970's in the cable station RPN -9. Other notable anime series followed suit -such as Mazinger Z(Late 1970's), Astroboy (1980), Voltron (1980) and so on and so forth. These are only a few of the anime series that were shown back then, and as time passed, more and more series were brought in the Philippines and were either being translated as subtitles, are being voiced by Filipino voice actors, or are being imported with their English translations.

According to Valiente and Nagai, "anime served as a vessel for popular and traditional culture of Japan shown in different kinds of media because of the constant relations, communications, trade and interest between The Philippines and Japan." (62-63)

Also, in an article for the Japan Foundation Manila Newsletter by Rochelle Dumlao, she stated that, "with the advent of cable TV and high-speed Internet, Filipino kids these days - along with their enthusiastic parents and even their nostalgic grandparents, are exposed to even more anime than ever before. Not only are the shows readily accessible and more varied, there are also further opportunities to become deeply involved in the hobby." (qtd. in "Some Thoughts on the Mainstreaming...").

And these further opportunities can be in the form of participating in anime forums, clubs, and enthusiast groups; downloading and watching the latest episode of your favorite anime on the internet; participating in events made and organized by anime fans, for anime fans such as anime conventions, cosplay competitions and the like.

Businesses couldn't just let an opportunity slip away, so because anime has a large fanbase, and its fans are willing to get their hands on merchandise related to their favorite anime series, things such as DVD's,



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