Updated: Sep 15
Japanese culture has been influencing the western world and is, as of today, celebrated for its colourfulness, diversity and instant likeability all around the globe. Some of the globally popular anime shows also paved the way for the advent of this culture in India. It was the late 20th century when the first anime and Japanese cartoon shows started broadcasting on Indian channels. And the giant influence of eastern entertainment has been rapidly amplifying here in India ever since.
Japanese Popular Culture isn’t just about anime movies and cartoon shows. It’s far wider than that. It takes in the elements of Anime, the TV and online shows; Manga, the comic books; Cosplay, the art of impersonating the virtual characters and the Japanese music which is popularly known as J-Pop, J-Hop and J-Rock. Japanese culture functions as an umbrella term to encompass all the aforementioned elements of entertainment.
Anime (Television):- First we need to learn about the basic nuance between Anime and Cartoon. A very large fraction of people mistake the concept of Anime with the regular cartoon shows; keeping in mind the similar animated characters and childish visuals. But, anime is not anything like a cartoon. Where cartoon shows are episodic shows giving us a light mood entertainment which is majorly produced and designed for children. Whereas anime concerns adult audience. Anime constructs elaborative plots and stories around the main characters with sufficient depths. Anime has strengthened its roots in several genres with its own manner of storytelling and art of binding the audience with its spectacular animations. Genres like Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror and of course, Action with managing to have strong emotional elements intact.
Indian audiences have started being accustomed to watching anime like other mainstream TV shows. Anime buzz has also extravagantly increased on Indian social media. Groups, forums, websites have emerged out from Indian Otaku hands to be the first in getting the fans all the information they ask for about their favourite anime shows. Subscriptions for online viewership for the anime shows have increased exceptionally well in India in recent years, giving us a little insight into the future as to what can be expected from the future of anime in India.
Some of the anime have also enjoyed immense global popularity and have been loved by the fans in all corners of the world and in India as well. Dragon Ball, Death Note, Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist are to name a few.
Manga (Comic):- Manga culture can be simply depicted as comic books with the stories lasting for decades. The richly detailed stories told via pictures and interactive dialoguing tell the life stories of the man protagonists right from his childhood up to real-time. One Piece is a famously known anime which has been in continuance for about 22 years now. Naruto has also achieved its own feast for being around for somewhat around 20 years.
Japanese characters highly differ from the comic book characters of the west in both the following up of their storylines and their fundamental characterizations. Although there are fantasy elements in the Japanese manga, it is not at all like every time that the white heroes have to form up a fight against the supervillains with a deity like structural powers. Manga characters mainly share the duality of both human ridiculousness and their own uniqueness coming from within their very own spiritual strengths.
Famous mangakas who generally aim for the older audience do not let the stereotypes and bright visuals associated with anime undermine their quality of writing along with the seriousness of the story. Tokyo Ghoul is kind of a manga that runs on a very thin ice of sympathizing with a criminal protagonist while contrasting the character’s own life issues with the ideologies of the characters relating to the society. The manga, despite being a dark-fantasy criminal saga, received a very thrilling response from its readers.
Although Indians haven’t yet gotten much into reading mangas for now, if we look back into the incident where a librarian at the book café Leaping Windows in Mumbai exclaimed, “This is our real treasure”, pointing towards their manga collections, we can surely expect great results for mangas in Indian markets in near future.
Cosplay:- Back in the day when people used to dress up as popular characters like Lord Krishna or famous people like Mahatma Gandhi, the word cosplay was not even coined. Cosplay is rather a new name to very old art. Cosplaying only used to be a casual fun activity. But now it has found its way into the commercial world and show business. Along with cosplay, costume designing has also become a hotly discussed topic among Indians in today’s era. With growing opportunities and passage to show the art of cosplay in various events and comic conventions in India, there can be a good old fashioned revolution seen of bringing a change in the outlook of TV and movie industry in India.
Besides, there are some top-notch international award-winning cosplayers and costume designers in India who are trying with their impeccable taste in this art to bring it into the eyes of bigger decision-makers of the industry.
Music:- Artistic and cultural influences follow the artistic musicians on stage. There is no other way to connect to the audience or fans any particular popular culture personally than selling them their music and performing in front of them on stage. With the introduction and increasing fame of K-Pop, the Korean music in both western industry and in among general Indian crowd, doors for the Japanese music have also opened.
Indians have now started trying various aspects of different art forms, from foreign movies, literature, Spanish and Korean music, Japanese anime and now maybe Japanese music is also on its way to break into the Indian markets. J-Pop band ASIANZ highlighting the Super Sugoii-con can be said as the first major step into bringing eastern music here in India.
Each of these realms and the stories they contain are the portals into their own world with surprising resemblances to our fantasies. Their characters are brought from fiction and are shown as similar to us, dealing with the everyday crisis, managing good old family issues, and most importantly the friendships that we follow.
This is one of the best growing popular cultures that has the chance to engulf you into it if given a chance.
So are you still looking for a reason to jump into the fascinating world of Japanese Pop Culture?