Anime and Manga
If Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa is the traditional symbol of Japanese art, then the highly-kawaii Pokemon is surely its modern equivalent. Manga and anime are symbols of a modern Japan: visually compelling, technically innovative, and fascinatingly idiosyncratic. Manga refers to the diverse array of Japanese-style comics while anime are the animated films, often based on those comics.
Manga and anime are not purely the realm of kids and die-hard collectors. In Japan, manga titles cater for all levels of Japanese society. In addition to the classic adventure stories, robots, and impossibly cute fantasy characters, you can also find manga romance tales, historical biographies, business stories, and tragedies.
Anime films and television shows also cover a broad range of genres, including adventure tales (Pokemon, One Piece, Sailor Moon etc) through to sci-fi (Astro Boy, Neon Genesis Evangelion) and even historical dramas (Grave of the Fireflies). From cinema screens to television and in many corners of the internet, the Japanese use anime to entertain, inform, and educate.
Perhaps the most iconic producer of anime is the famed Studio Ghibli, co-founded by legendary animator Miyazaki Hayao. The studio has been responsible for more successful anime features than any other, winning Oscars and breaking box office records – from the beloved Spirited Away to the classic My Neighbor Totoro, and dozens more. Visitors to Japan. If you’re a fan, a visit to The Ghibli Museum is definitely in order – you can find it in Mitaka, just outside of Tokyo.
Manga and anime can be found on every corner in Japan in stores and special manga cafes, but the annual fairs celebrating them are truly spectacular to behold. Each March, the AnimeJapan fair in Tokyo sees over 120,000 fans descend on the huge events, decked out in incredible cosplay from their favourite anime and manga.