Pocky, Anime, manga, kanji. Have you heard of any of these? If not where have you been? All around us teenagers, children, and even adults are being drawn into Japanese culture through TV, books, and even food. Japanese comics, called manga, take up more and more space on American bookshelves, and they’ve infused new life into the publishing industry. Japanese animation, anime, is on more and more movies and TV screens and influencing popular toys and games. Before the 80’s when people thought of Japanese imports, they thought of cars, TV’s, walkmans, and other electronics.
Japanese pop culture is becoming increasingly popular and shows no signs of stopping. Now children are trying to learn Japanese and martial arts to be like their favorite anime character. Teens are learning to speak Japanese and adopting Japanese clothes, food, and even traditions. Adults are enthralled by the colorful and vast world of anime and manga and are amazed they can have such a lasting effect on their kids. Some people may wonder why Japanese anime and manga are so popular with kids and the answer is simple.
They’re so different and captivating, everyone can find one they enjoy. You have action, comedy, romance, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and tons more. Some even mix and match, making a truly wonderful and breathtaking experience. And it’s not just the movie and book industry either. Music, known as J-pop or J- rock, is taking up more and more room on the Internet. The Japanese bands are not only making popular music, they’re also very interesting and different to look at. These bands are known as Visual Kei and are indeed unique in their own ways.
Americans are drawn to them because, quite frankly they’ve never seen or heard anything like it. The closet thing we have to that is Marylin Manson but he’s just creepy and not that fun to look at. The largest Japanese import, undisputedly, is video games. Nintendo, Sega, and the Sony Playstation have made the biggest impact on this nation. Just about every game you pick up in from Japan. Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario, even Pac-man. Video games have come farther than anyone could have imagined.
With new crazes like Dance Dance Revolution, a game in which you literately dance on a pad to popular J-pop songs, and new technology Americans will keep buying Japanese games. Some people may think this is a bad thing. They’re children are embracing another culture instead of their own. And what is so wrong about that? Would you rather they hated every other culture except their own? The Japanese Boom’ is a way to open minds, expand imaginations, and open doors to new cultures.
One child may grow up on anime and go on to learn other cultures. S/He may grow up to be a democratic negotiator, or something of the like because s/he embraced other cultures at an early age. So there’s nothing to be alarmed about when a kid comes up to you with Japanese words on their shirt and says Konichiwa’ to you then walks away singing “I think I’m turning Japanese”. Or when you see a strange food called Pocky’ or Ramen’ in general stores. Americans are just being invaded by Japan. No big.