There used to be a time when Japanese comics and animation were not well known outside of the nation at all. However, Japanese anime and manga have now grown in popularity in a gob-smacking manner. They are now integral to the culture and life of Japan; you simply cannot escape the influence this particular storytelling art form has.
Without the existence of Japanese anime and manga, the nation would definitely not be as intriguing and colorful as it is nowadays.
● All Japanese comics are called Manga.
● The onscreen counterpart and animated versions of manga are called Anime.
● They come in all sorts of genres including science fiction, action-adventure, comedy, and romance.
● Some popular anime and manga series include Naruto, Doraemon, Pokémon, Spirited Away, Dragon Ball, and AstroBoy.
● There are several anime and manga theme parks and museums across Japan such as the One Piece Tower, the Kyoto International Manga Museum, Fujiko F. Fujio Museum, and the Ghibli Museum.
● The Akihabara district is known as the mecca for anime and manga in Tokyo. It is the best place to get souvenirs and merchandise.
Japanese comics are known as manga – they are usually printed in black and white. They come in all sorts of genres and touch upon a huge variety of subjects that are aimed at all ages and sexes. There are also some manga that are marketed to the West as well, which have become quite popular too.
There are many themes that manga come in including sports, fiction, science fiction, action, adventure, romance, and even adult topics like risqué materials and horror. You will find that the publishing industry of Japan is quite extensive with manga books literally everywhere. People on trains at rush hour once could be seen reading manga, too, although since manga is now available on smartphone, seeing them with manga in book form is less common.
In every town, you will be able to find book stores that have endless aisles of manga genres. In large cities, it is common to find large stores with multiple levels dedicated just to manga. Even convenience stores have manga for patrols to stand and read. They can also be found in waiting areas for clinics and restaurants.
A lot of the manga is dedicated to children with adorable characters and simple styles that feed into the kawaii culture of Japan. Such characters often have oversized eyes that make it easier for artists to convey the emotion for the character. Then there are also manga books aimed at young adults and teenagers. They might have darker themes but most of them center on the idea of good winning over evil. The artwork styles are usually more realistic and detailed. However, it still has the fun twist of exaggeration and style.
When manga gains a level of popularity and proves the worth they have, they are usually turned into animated TV seasons. However, manga isn’t the only source for anime inspiration. For example, the video game Pokémon was a definite worldwide hit before it was converted into manga books and anime.
The movement, sound, and color of anime series are what bring the manga to life. Another important element to anime is the theme song for the series. J-rock and J-pop artists are quite enthusiastic to write and sing theme songs for anime series since it can be amazing exposure. It is often quite a hot topic for discussion on internet forums and playgrounds about which artist will be featured on the theme song for the anime.
The most successful, famous, and critically acclaimed animator is called Hayao Miyazaki. He is the co-director for Studio Ghibli that was launched in 1985. He has headed many original anime films that have received quite the fan base throughout the world. He is known for his unique style of animation where the characters have smaller eyes, which goes against the mainstream style of drawing bigger eyes. His work also features strong and independent women and girls that make up most of the protagonists for his works. His film called Spirited Away even won the Best Animated Feature Oscar.
Since a lot of anime series have found a huge level of success across the world, they are dubbed into different languages. However, a lot of people do argue that watching them in Japanese with subtitles will allow you to understand more of the anime’s humor and cultural context.
In the West, it is quite common for comics to feature superheroes that will save the world single-handedly. Such types of themes have never really been very popular in manga. There are many anime and manga that you will find which have more realistic heroines and heroes that everyone can relate to, even when their life isn’t completely ordinary. The settings for anime and manga are definitely endless. You will find tons of works under every genre with entire worlds created for readers.
When you compare the Western styles for animations and comics to Japanese anime and manga, you will find huge differences. Manga often features close-ups of the characters regularly and outlines the physical expressions on the face to highlight the emotion. Characters may even change in form or shape so that their emotional state is expressed in a better way. For example, they may grow bull horns with steam coming out from their ears when they are in rage but it doesn’t really take away from the comic’s realism.
There are many popular Japanese anime and manga that have amassed millions of fans from all over the world. A lot of manga and anime have huge followings. Here are some of the most popular Japanese anime and manga.
AstroBoy was published in 1952 and is created by Osamu Tezuka. It features a world where robots and humans coexist. AstroBoy, the main protagonist, is a robot that uses the superior powers he has to fight crime. He is given a lot of attention and care, which allows him to get in touch with his human emotions, too.
Doraemon was published in 1969 and was created by Fujiko F. Fujio. The series follows the wild and wacky adventures of a robotic blue cat from the 24th century that travels back in time. Doraemon features the cat trying to help Nobita Nobi, a schoolboy, through the different tribulations and trials of his life.
● Dragon Ball
Dragon Ball has a huge fan following throughout the world. It was published in 1984 and is created by Akira Toriyama. It follows the protagonist Son Goku and his friends as they have various adventures during their exploration of their world. The series follows their journey of learning martial arts and looking for Dragon Balls to summon the magical dragon that can grant any wish.
Bleach was launched in 2001 and is created by Noriaki Kubo. It follows the story of Ichigo, a teenager who gets the power of a “Soul Reaper”. With the powers of the death god, he sets out to protect our human realm against evil spirits. He is also in charge of guiding deceased souls safely to the afterlife.
● Death Note
Death Note was published in 2003 and is created by Tsugumi Oba. It follows an intelligent high school senior called Light Yagami, who finds a Death Note from a Shinigami, or “Death God.” As soon as Light writes down the full name of any person, the person dies. He goes on a mission to kill off all the criminals and evildoers of the world through the Death Note with a genius detective called L hot on his trail.
● One Piece
Monkey D. Luffy sets out on an adventure of a lifetime after getting inspiration from a powerful pirate called "Red-Haired" Shanks. He embarks on a journey from the East Blue Sea with a dedicated crew, the Straw Hat Pirates, to find the legendary treasure known as the One Piece and claim the title of King of the Pirates.
A Nine-Tailed Demon Fox is sealed into baby Naruto by the Fourth Hokage, the ninja leader of Konohagakure Village, at the cost of the Hokage’s own life. As a result, Naruto is shunned by the others in his village and resolves to become the greatest Hokage his village has ever seen.
The world of Pokémon follows Ash through his journey to become a champion trainer of Pokemon, which are magical creatures that inhabit his world. He is joined by his friends, including the adorable Pikachu. His adventures take him across the world, meeting wonderful and amazing Pokémon along the way.
Of course, anime and manga are the inspiration behind many museums and theme parks across Japan. Here are some of the more popular destinations that enthusiasts can visit.
● The Ghibli Museum
The Ghibli Museum is located near Mitaka Station, right outside the center of Tokyo. It is the home for many iconic characters that are part of the Ghibli Studio feature films. You will find that it pays homage to their amazing films like My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, and Oscar-winner Spirited Away.
The museum has some exclusive short features and films in their many special animation exhibitions. We do recommend making reservations in advance since those are needed to visit the popular Ghibli Museum.
A new Ghibli Park is scheduled is currently under construction in Nagakute city, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, and is scheduled to open on November 1, 2022. It will open with three areas. First is “Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse”, which will contain various exhibitions, shops, restaurants, and playing spaces, with immersive elements from films like Spirited Away, the Secret World of Arrietty, Castle in the Sky, and more. The “Hill of Youth” will be the Main Entry to the park, and include imaginative designs from Whisper of the Heart and Howl’s Moving Castle. Finally, Dondoko Forest creates the rural landscape of My Neighbor Totoro, and even includes Satsuki and Mei’s House from the film.
An additional two areas are scheduled for 2023: the “Valley of Witches” inspired by Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle, and Mononoke’s Village which recreates the look of Tatara-ba from Princess Mononoke.
Ghibli Park does not have big attractions or rides. You walk through the forest and along the paths on your own feet, feeling the breeze and discovering its secrets.
Booking in advance is required.
● The Fujiko F. Fujio Museum
Fujiko F. Fujio was the creator of Doraemon, which is why this museum is often referred to as the Doraemon Museum. It features all the manga works by the artist, not just Doraemon. The museum is in Kawasaki City which is right next to Tokyo.
But you will need to make reservations in advance for this museum, too.
● The Kyoto International Manga Museum
The Kyoto International Manga Museum is near Karasuma-Oike Subway Station. On display, there is a huge, massive manga collection that you can also browse. You will be able to learn a lot about the history of Manga, the development of manga, the various kinds of manga, and the popularity of manga throughout the world.
Japanese anime and manga have gained significant popularity throughout the world as well as domestically. This means that there are a lot of events and attractions that are held in Japan, which you can take part in as well.
● Manga Cafes
Manga cafes are locally referred to as Manga Kissa, where customers can come to read the manga available in the café. You have to pay a fee to be able to read for a specified time. Guests can also borrow and return the manga books as much as they like in the allotted time. You can also sit in the individual compartments available to get a more private reading experience. Large cities like Osaka and Tokyo have numerous manga cafes where you can also get non-alcoholic drinks or use the internet.
There are many grand events hosted around Japan related to anime and manga throughout the year. AnimeJapan is held in the Big Sight convention center of Odaiba, which is the biggest animation event in Japan. Comiket is also a huge book fair that hosts thousands of people twice a year in Tokyo.
● Shops and Souvenirs
The best place to get souvenirs and merchandise related to anime and manga is the Akihabara district. It is considered a paradise for lovers of Japanese anime and manga. There are maid cafés, electronic shops, and anime stores where you can get into the anime, manga, and gaming culture.
Nakano Broadway is also a popular shopping mall with many stores that offer anime goods like figurines, toys, and costumes. The Pokémon Center is in most cities including Tokyo, Sendai, Osaka, Hiroshima, Yokohama, Nagoya, Sapporo, and Fukuoka. You can get everything related to Pokémon from there like toys, games, stationery, and trading cards.
Exploring Japan through the lens of Japanese anime and manga can be quite an interesting experience. You will find that many inspiring artworks that tell unique tales of the most amazing characters. Have a fun time exploring the world of Japanese anime and manga!