Tag Archives: manga

The Presence of Japanese Manga, Anime, and Animated Films Overseas

“Although there are still times when I feel sad, I am doing fine.” Japanese anime film flier. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), directed by Hayao Miyazaki

Although there are still times when I feel sad, I am doing fine.

From a dusty box of unprocessed materials, the image of a young witch and tiny black cat standing at a bakery counter caught my attention. It was a flier of a Japanese animated film, Kiki’s Delivery Service, from 1989.

This animated film is an adaptation of a children’s fantasy novel series written by Eiko Kadono, which is available in multiple foreign languages. The film was directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and produced by the Japanese animation film studio Studio Ghibli. There were no sequels to the film, while the book series ended the story with volume 6, Each and Every Departure, in 2009. Many teenagers, even grown-ups in Japan would mention this film as one of their favorite animated (anime) films; the fantasy story of uncertainty, puberty and emotional growth through the young heroine Kiki’s adventures has resonated with many. In the film ending, Kiki finally finds her place in a new world after a wonderful experience of independence. This film was a huge box office success, earning 2.2 billion yen at the time. For this film, Studio Ghibli made its first distribution partnership with The Walt Disney Company, and Walt Disney Pictures recorded an English version in 1997, which premiered in the United States at the Seattle International Film Festival in 1998. The film was also released as a home video both in the United States and Canada; over a million copies were sold.


Japanese anime film program. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), directed by Hayao Miyazaki

It is not often that an artistic creation in a foreign language from outside the United States becomes a smash hit in the mainstream market. Moreover, traditional anime films such as Walt Disney’s were only for children. Flouting convention, the presence of Japanese anime (including both TV and film) and manga have been a big presence in the United States and beyond.

This blog entry introduces this phenomenal instance of Japanese pop culture’s popularity throughout the world, as seen through our ephemera collection, and shows manga and anime developed into foreign countries as a strong sub-culture.


So, what are manga and anime? The Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism states,

Today, globally, when it comes to anime, the term indicates Japanese anime, and not the pieces by Walt Disney and other countries. When it comes to manga, the term suggests made-in-Japan manga, and not American comic and French bandes dessinées (c. 2007)

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Japanese Post-War Culture and Foreign Cultures: An Example of the Avid Adaptation of Foreign Culture and Creation of Neo-Hybrid Culture

Now you have a rough idea of the process of integration and huge presence of yōga (foreign films) in Japan and how they reflected the status of the post-war cultural revolution in Japan. While the archival processing is underway, we will look at one lovely example of ephemera, an LP record-sized leaflet, which could also serve as the cover for the soundtrack that was released at the same time as an Italian popular crime-comedy film, “Sette uomini d’oro (Seven Golden Men),” which was directed by Marco Vicario (1965).

Film ephemera from the Makino Collection, Columbia University in the City of New York

Italian film flier (spread). Seven Golden Men/Sette uomini d’oro, directed by Marco Vicario (1965)

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, records became popular in Japan, and film ephemera from this era can often be seen in this form. It is interesting to see how differently film ephemera represented one film, due to corresponding trends or Asian perspectives. Film ephemera show us how films were promoted in order to appropriately appeal to audiences in each cultural setting.

Film ephemera from the Makino Collection, Columbia University in the City of New York

Japanese anime film program. LUPIN THE THIRD: THE CASTLE OF CAGLIOSTRO/Lupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro (1979), directed by one of the greatest animation directors in Japan, Hayao Miyazaki. The action sequences have influenced lots of productions; they have been highly praised by Steven Spielberg, and an influence on his films, such as Indiana Jones

This Vicario film became one of the models for a famous Japanese manga/anime series, Lupin the Third (Rupan sansei), created by the manga artist Monkey Punch (Katō Kazuhiko). Lupin the Third was first published as manga in 1967, and then later animated for TV, cinematized, and even recreated as video games in the 1970’s due to its huge popularity.

Interestingly, the author was strongly influenced by the drawings of American comic artist Mort Drucker, as well as American humor magazine Mad. And Lupin the third is the grandson of the fictional gentleman thief, Arsène Lupin, which was created by a French novelist, Maurice Leblanc. James Bond, of popular spy movies, was his model. Inspector Kōichi Zenigata, the long standing rival of Lupin, was created to make him and Lupin a human “Tom and Jerry,” an American animation. Femme fatale Fujiko Mine was created to be Lupin’s Bond girl. Samurai Daisuke Jigen was based on James Coburn, from the 1960 American Western, The Magnificent Seven. Monkey Punch, the author, was also inspired by The Three Musketeers and the films of Alfred Hitchcock, and his creations reflect their influences. I could tell you plenty more of his influences, but I don’t want to bore you.

The completely new style of hybrid manga, which artfully adapted charming aspects of foreign cultures, was extremely well-received not only in Japan; this made-in-Japan product was translated into many languages and appreciated the world over. In reverse, the manga series and films have been quite influential on other productions in the world as well. Even now, its popularity continues; this manga series is always highly ranked in nation-wide surveys. Continue reading