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att. Culture - Japanimation
att. Culture - Japanimation
att.JAPAN Issue 16, May 2004

Japanimation


Who hasn't heard of pikachuu? We visit the Tokyo International Animation Festival.

japanimation Children in the west, raised on a diet of Pokemon, Dragonball and Astro Boy, have grown up. Now they are in their early twenties, and they want more Japanese Animation.
And whilst Japan is going through an economic recession, anime (the Japanese word for animation) is proving to be a healthy export, rivaling electronic products in import figures and popularity in English speaking countries.
Starting in the seventies, and going through a worldwide boom in the early nineties, the rising popularity of Japanese animation has seen what was once viewed as a minor market become mainstream. Animated features such as Akira, Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away helped promote the idea that Japanese animation was more than just cartoons. It was a conceptually, thematically and visually well developed medium, making it's presence felt not only economically, but creatively as well.
Unlike comics and cartoons in the west, which were viewed as culturally inferior, in Japan, manga (comics) and anime (animation) has long appealed to a wide audience, with everyone from schoolgirls to middle aged men reading manga while commuting to work on the train.
Recently, Western audiences of all ages have become more comfortable with a medium that was once seen as "just for kids", seeing a growth not only in the sales of anime itself, but the influence of anime being felt in design, fashion and Hollywood feature films.
With this in mind, Tokyo's Mayor Ishihara organized the Tokyo International Animation Fair. The third event of its kind, this year's event attracted over 60,000 local and international visitors.
Held to bring together companies and organizations from many different industries involved in the production or distribution of anime, it was an anime fan's dream. Companies such as Toei (Dragonball) and Gainax (Neon Genesis Evangelion) displayed complete sets and staff members dressed up as your favorite anime character (known commonly as "cosplay": see anime dictionary). Production studios like Ghibli (Spirited Away), Tezuka Productions (Astro Boy) were present, and memorabilia and toys from the 60's onward was exhibited, including such priceless rarities as 1960's Gatchaman water flasks and original animation cels.
Want to make your own animation? Animation schools were also present, showing their students best work. Foreign productions were also present, most noticeably NAPTE and Dongwoo animation from Korea.

 Introduction to Japanese Animation
Becoming popular in Japan more than 50 years ago, Japanese animation began to be dubbed into English and exported to western countries in large quantities in the 70's. People in their 30's now would have probably seen Japanese animation as children, perhaps without realizing it was from Japan. (Often American distributors and voice actors were credited instead of the original Japanese creators)."Kimba the White Lion" (Japanese name "Jungle Taitei", by Osamu Tezuka, otherwise known as the godfather of animation), "Speed Racer" ("Ma ha Go Go Go") "G-Force" ("Gatchaman") being a few of the more well known animations. Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom), first appearing after the war in Japan, became popular in the west in the 1980's. The 90's saw the huge international success of Pokemon and Dragonball, with children from Italy to India nagging their parents to buy the latest Pokemon merchandising. Since the 1988 hit "Akira" other animations for adult audiences have become popular,particularly "Ghost in the Shell" (Masamune Shirow), Neon Genesis Evangelion (Hideaki Anno), Princess Mononoke and more recently "Spirited Away" (Studio Ghibli), helping popularize anime and helping it establish it's legitimacy as an art form in its own right. As a result of this rise in popularity, many earlier anime and manga only available in Japan has been sought out, translated and distributed worldwide.

 Anime Dictionary
Anime (AH-nee-may or AN-nee-may)
n. -Short for "animation". Refers to "Japanese Animation", a genre/medium that has its roots in the 1960's when the Japanese began making television versions of their version of comics (manga).

Japanimation (jap-A-neh-MAY-shun)
n. - Combination of the words "Japanese" and "Animation", used to refer to animation from Japan and the industry as a whole. Some fans consider this term outdated (preferring instead to use the word "anime") since this term was more widely used in the 80's and early 90's, when anime was first trickling its way out of Japan to other countries.

Cosplay (KAHS-puhlay)
n., v. - Term short for "costume play" referring to the common practice of dressing up as favorite anime characters at conventions, for participating in the masquerade in skits or just for fun.

Mecha (MEH-kah)
n., adj. - Short for "mechanical", and a slang term used to refer to the giant robots and machines that characterize some anime. Can also refer to the genre of anime which employs giant machines or robots as part of the story, action, or characterization.
ex. - Did you see that new Gundam mecha?

Otaku (oh-TAH-kuu)
n. - From the Japanese, literally meaning "house". In Japan, the term refers to someone with a heavy, and sometimes near-religious interest in something. In the Japanese culture it also carries a derogatory meaning, in the context of being someone with no real social or personal life outside of the object of their obsession (much like the term "fanboy" or "nerd" in Western culture).

Shoujo (SHOH-joh)
n., adj. - From the Japanese, literally meaning "young girl". In anime terms, this word is used as an adjective to refer to the genre of anime or manga which is aimed at young teenage girls, usually stories of drama and romance. Many males, however, are as attracted to shoujo style anime as girls are, and enjoy it just as much. A sub genre of this is "mahou shoujo", which means "magical girl" and refers to those shows that revolve around one or more females with magical or mystical powers (such as Sailor Moon, where ordinary female high school students turn into uniform-wearing magical fighters).

Shounen (SHOH-nehn)
n., adj. - From the Japanese, literally meaning "young boy". In anime terms, this word is an adjective used to refer to the genre of anime aimed at young teenage boys, usually stories involving action and adventure. Like its counterpart, shoujo, many females are as attracted to this genre of anime as the boys are and enjoy it as much.

* The "Anime (Otaku) Dictionary" and other interesting anime related information can ba found on
http://www.animeinfo.org/
"Otaku Dictionary" used with permission of authors Frank Sanchez and Asuka.

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