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Exploring the Rise of Anime and Manga Popularity in the West: A Cultural Phenomenon

Anime and Manga are a huge part of Western Culture, but how did it become so popular?

Shutterstock/Ariatrix

Manga and Anime have been gaining popularity in the West for many years. Emerging as early as the 19th century, Manga has been a growing expression of art, with its roots in Japan, along later with Anime in the 1960s as a specific style of animation.

With modern technology, such as streaming services, language translations, and merchandise selling, the two art forms have become increasingly popular in the West, slowly becoming embedded into popular culture.

The differences between Anime and Manga

The main difference between Anime and Manga is: Anime is a form of animation (hence the shortened name), and Manga is a comic illustration style.

The exciting thing dividing Manga from Western comics is that it is read right to the left, and the artwork is typically black and white.

Anime is the animated version of Manga- it brings it to life with action, music, and sound effects.

Of course, with the growth of the internet and public access to various entertainment, different movies, television series, and comics can be accessed globally.

With the rise of streaming services, such as Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Funimation, the accessibility of Anime has been made much easier in the West.

Invented in 2006, Crunchyroll offers chess to East Asian Content Credits: Shutterstock/PREMIO STOCK.

The growth of these services has helped countries share their respective art outside of their culture. Anime and Manga are great examples of this, as it has become one of “Japan’s greatest artistic exports.”

“The animation industry grew more than 13% in 2022. This ended giving the industry earnings upwards of $20.6 billion USD.”

Anime Industry Posts it’s Highest Profits Since 2002

Different applications such as Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok have also helped various fandoms connect with others and share their love. This has put Anime on social media to communicate with others who might share the same interests.

Furthermore, Anime and Manga offer a very different kind of aesthetic, method of storytelling, and storylines in general than Western comics.

This is part of its main selling point- it is different from what we are used to as a Western society.

Furthermore, the diversity of anime and manga genres helps it appeal to a broader audience. It includes action, adventure, and romance as central themes.

Does cultural difference play a part in the popularity of Anime?

The general fascination and possible romanticization of foreign cultures may play a part in the rise of interest in Manga and Anime.

Asian culture is often viewed as exotic and exciting in the West, as it differs significantly from Western life. This is where the interest comes in, as Manga and Anime offer some insight into the Japanese culture, where the two art forms originated.

However, this can often lead to misconceptions and difficulty separating art from what real life is like in Japan.

Japanese Food in Anime and Manga

Take the fascination with anime food, which became viral online recently.

Typing into the search bar ‘Anime Food’ produces loads of videos, including people trying to remake the famous dishes they see in Anime or just admiring how it looks.

The animated food beauty in Anime resembles traditional Japanese food. This may make watchers want to learn more about Japanese culture or try making the food themselves.

The food in Anime and Manga differs significantly from what we may eat in the West.

Even people who don’t watch Anime can appreciate that the food they eat looks fantastic!

Japanese Art in Anime and Manga

The artistic style of Anime also plays a massive part in why people love it. It represents a unique aesthetic and allows people to view art in multiple forms.

Another subculture of art, similar to Anime, is Kawaii art. This incorporates bright and pastel colors and uses more of a childlike art style. Kawaii art includes animation such as ‘Hello Kitty’ and ‘Pikachu.’

Pikachu first appeared in 1996. Credits: Shutterstock, Nicescene

These two artistic styles are often seen as the same, mostly because people confuse or put them into the same category. But they both are unique in their way and deserve equal recognition.

Furthermore, Anime and Manga also influenced the art of cosplaying, which has had massive popularity in the West. There are many conventions that people go to where they all dress as different animated characters.

They share interests and knowledge about different Anime, mangas, and other parts of Japanese culture at these conventions.

Written By

Hiya, my name is Megan! I am currently studying towards a degree in Journalism in Cardiff. I am in my third year, and my goal is to be a successful writer for a women's magazine one day, and possibly specialise in media law! I want my brand to be feminine, meaningful and boundary breaking. Some things about me: Christmas is my favourite holiday, even though summer is my favourite season and I am the oldest sister, daughter and grandaughter!

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