In most parts of the world, Japan is viewed as a futuristic nation with the rarest technologies. On the other hand, Japan is happy to showcase its blend of technology and media culture, defined mainly by its popular anime and games.
Beyond borders, anime is considered a style created by the Japanese, though it really came about as a shorter form of the word animation. Yet, some experts argue that the term anime also resembles the reduction of animation form.
Anime is the core of Japan’s global media fanbase, thanks to its uniqueness. Today, Japan contributes a significant portion of the global film market.
But such success is accomplished through consistent branding, which is evident in various aspects explained here.
How it Started
Japanese anime significance first drew global attention in the 1960s, although the form started as early as the 1910s. Its founding was inspired by various cartoonists, painters, and political caricaturists who were curious about animating images.
But the 60s boom can shortly be credited to Osamu Tezuka, who drew inspiration from Disney’s success in the 30s to create masterpieces like Princess Knight and Astro Boy. Tezuka defined the modern Japanese and global anime space.
Later in the 70s various hits initiated animes’ perception from a sub-cultural fashion to a complex art with endless possibilities. The influence captured massive audiences across different demographics, including different ages.
Although the industry declined in the 80s due to Japan’s economic downswings, a resurgence after the 1995 Neon Genesis Evangelion release would redefine it and inspire a new approach.
Building the Brand
Japan’s branding started as a stereotype, where western nations imagined Japan as a modernized nation with playfully designed technological and media spaces. A view that started in the west later became an agenda of the government and its foreign agencies, which decided to promote it as a market identity.
In the UK, for example, Cross Media is promoting Japanese cultures through anime, fashion, music, traditions, and games etc. Its HyperJapan Festival encourages participants to engage in Japanese cultures while selling the brand as assets for profits. Anime gaming style is also growing in popularity in online spaces and physical casinos, with anime slots taking the top spot as a fan favourite.
A few years back, the Japanese were not much focused on Western stereotyping. But in the global village, the internet has become, they have now owned the identity.
The Significance of Technology
Unlike most countries that inherited colonizer characteristics, Japan grew from original ideas, which played a big part in its early technological dominance. It was not colonized outright although there was significant cultural change during the occupation following the second world war. Perhaps this allowed the country to retain most of its unique culture while its technology and animation industries took over.
On realizing the power of its playful global image, it became government-owned and extended the approach to its electronics and media production.
Japanese electronics market dominance in the 1980s complemented the western idea of a robotics-rich and game-like designed nation. Besides, its rapid recovery during the postwar period depicted technological stability. Some old negative cultures faded as the nation embarrassed its new place as a world technology pacesetter.
Impacts of the Culture
The anime culture has grown so massive that you will most certainly come across its symbols, shapes, and images in random places and objects, including school buses and railway stations. The culture is no longer associated with kids’ entertainment but rather a tradition after productions diversified to specific demographics.
But before the industry gained its momentum, early producers heavily marketed their products while selling cheaply to capture global markets after failing to go massive in Japan.
On catching some hot spots such as Spain, South America, and Italy, the style graduated to form a culture.
The 2021 Tokyo Olympics
Japanese efforts to promote its image were amplified during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The official trailer was a complex masterpiece that summarized Japan’s contribution to media production. Various aspects, including the music and graphics, reassembled their anime culture.
The branding extended to the actual event where even the races had an anime touch. The placard bearers wore anime-like costumes and held placards that showed athletes’ country names in anime speech bubbles.
Their music selection also included popular manga themes relatable to the majority of the audience. The opening of the 2021 Olympics features notes from “Born Anew”. Athletes’ entrance was backed by a mix of various sounds from some of Japan’s greatest role-playing games, such as Kingdom Hearts and Monster Hunter.
Japan’s anime branding has been incorporated into its original cultures and is defining its path independent from the influence of other cultures. But just like people from other nations don’t share a unanimous view of their most appreciated cultures, not every Japanese is for the anime depiction. Yet, the government’s efforts will slowly facilitate the encroachment of this idea into the broader population over time.