The first anime I’ve ever seen was Naruto, way back when they aired it on toasted T.V. Anime at the time was mostly Shonen, which is a genre that is dedicated primarily to a young demographic particularly boys, this anime genre mostly has elements of action-filled plots. This was my whole view of anime at the time and what it had to offer, coming from a boy who lives in Australia were anime at the time was quite niche. However, I would like to point out that I was exposed to anime at a young age due to my Asian background. Thanks to the power of the internet it opened me to the many different genres that anime has to offer, and a particular genre that I want to cover is the “slice of life” genre, which is defined as “a realistic representation of everyday experience in a film, play or book”, but in this case through anime!
I did a personal autoethnographic study on how Japanese animation is used as a means of soft power, to spread Japanese culture to the western audience. Anime blatantly shows its culture and customs through anime without the need to censor themselves to an international audience, as anime is not anime if it does not have any connection to Japan. A particular genre that can educate and expose the western audience to Japanese culture is the slice of life genre, the slice of life genre goes through all things Japan from the bowing, vending machines and greetings. I can recommend countless great slice of life anime’s, but there is one thing that all of them have in common, and that is showing the viewer a typical day of a Japanese citizen, though it can be quite exaggerated, most of the time it’s the real deal.
Here are some slice of anime’s I recommend, embedded in them will take you to an anime forum community called Myanimelist which will have the synopsis and reviews about it!
In my opinion anime does all its soft power effectively, as the slice of life genre portrays what a typical Japanese person experiences and customs they use in everyday life. These experiences and customs are mostly new to a western viewer, for example the abundance of vending machines, the cities in Tokyo; particularly the city of anime Akihabara and the delicious food such as takoyaki and ramen. This sparks interest in the viewer towards Japanese culture, as it will want them to experience the Japanese lifestyle first hand.
I’ve done some research on how anime has become more recognised and easily accessible through Netflix over the last few years. Japan has gained an increase of “a whopping 250%” (Kopf 2018) of international tourists. Though the increase in tourists isn’t because of anime, it will be safe to say that anime played a part in attracting people from all over the world to visit. Anime isn’t for all, the soft power of educating and demonstrating their culture through this animated media, is entertaining. And I encourage anyone to watch just one slice of life episode, and you will see the difference between Japanese culture and yours.
- Kopf 2018, “The rise in tourists visiting Japan is statistically off the charts”, Quartz, accessed through https://qz.com/1283090/going-to-japan-youre-not-alone-tourism-is-booming-at-unprecedented-levels/