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How Does Anime Influence Western Storytelling?

As compared to many other countries, Japanese culture is constantly being developed with every generation. However, that doesn’t mean that nations such as the USA or the UK do not have a culture , but it’s the creative way that Japanese art and culture from the Middle Ages and before has evolved into iconic apps like the manga and anime we know today.

Many other countries don’t have the ability to claim that their cultural offerings are grounded in the same amount of tradition and history. As such, we can begin to see that anime – and its very specific style – is proliferating into western culture. What is the extent to which Japanese anime and sci-fi influence movies and TV in the west?

“Humble Beginnings”: What Did the Anime Industry Begin?

Sources aren’t set on when anime first came out. Many suggest that the first anime was drawn around 1916-1917 by Shimokawa Oten, but because of the numerous records and reels were destroyed, the majority claim that a release in 1917 that contained 20 short anime films was the beginning of its development.

Kenzo Masaoka premiered the first animated film to feature sound in 1933, while 1958 saw the release of the first anime feature, Hakujaden. A few years after, it debuted in America and the western fascination with Japanese science-fiction culture started.

Japanese Sci-Fi was re-discovered by the West

The most popular aspect in Japanese culture that is found in western film and TV is the monster genre, also known as kaiju. The early sci-fi genre was filled with creatures that appeared out of thin air to cause chaos (usually in Tokyo).

1954’s Godzilla was the catalyst for the films that have evolved over the years but are still in high demand today. Indeed, there is even an entire study just on the influence of Godzilla and Kaiju. Other examples of kaiju films comprise the sequels to 31 of the Japanese Godzilla series, Pacific Rim (2013), Dwayne Johnson’s 2018 film Rampage, along with The Cloververse collection of movies – including the cinematic shocker of the series’ opening Cloverfield (2008) 10, Cloverfield Lane (2016) along with The Cloverfield Paradox (2018).

The Pervading Influence of Japanese Culture

Japanese culture doesn’t just influence television and film. Elsewhere in entertainment, anime is used as a source of source of inspiration. In the case of Devil May Cry video game series was heavily inspired by anime, from the appearance of its characters through to the development of its plot. Moreover, popular on Netflix animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender was so heavily influenced and influenced by anime that many are surprised to discover that it was developed in America.

It has also led to some calls to create a new category of anime produced in other countries than Japan. Other than entertainment, sci-fi and anime themes doesn’t just affect films and television but can be found in a range of merchandise, such as the Fortune Girl slot on some casinos, as of an example. This slot online pay homage to the anime aesthetic, appealing to prospective players using icons and designs reminiscent of traditional anime and Japanese sci-fi storytelling to deliver its gameplay.

What is the impact of Anime influence Western Storytelling?

The art of storytelling has also derived inspiration from anime and traditional Japanese tales. The Anime genre – which includes long-running shows such as Naruto, Pokemon, and Dragon Ball Z – has distinctive ways in telling tales. The arcs tend to be dominated by the ‘big bad’ (or the antagonist of the day, and the heroes go on a specific journey to make. However, as many struggling anime enthusiasts will confirm, there are also many filler episodes. These episodes slow down huge plots and allow the anime to keep pace with the original materials (often manga comic books).

One of the best instances for this phenomenon in the West is the reception of The Walking Dead from AMC differs depending on whether the show is drawing inspiration from comic books or not. The traditional TV’s Sweeps Week meant that many drama shows delayed big events by adding unnecessary stories in order to air their main set pieces or dramatic denouements as more viewers watched. Netflix and the shorter order of episodes it proliferates – counteracts this and removes the need for filler episodes.

The 1998 Japanese animated science fiction film Akira is frequently hailed to be one of Japan’s finest cinematic exports, along with Studio Ghibli’s 2001 movie Spirited Away. It is known that George Lucas turned down an offer to show the former film to Western audiences in 1987 as he believed that the western audience wouldn’t be interested. The film, when it eventually found its audience, turned people to Japanese sci-fi and anime programming, and became a benchmark for other media seeking to emulate the style would employ. Indeed, Kanye West’s music video for Stronger is heavily based on Akira according to the director.

Japanese storytelling is a reflection of the society and the practices passed down from generation to generation, which are now reconstructed and transformed into some of the most easily known media tropes worldwide. The concepts behind Japanese science fiction and anime are universal and can be applied to film, TV, gaming and entertainment in general in the west. As culture begins to transcend the borders of a country, we should be expecting to witness more anime influence throughout western media.