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Post Reply Recurring cultural themes in anime
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25 / M / Sydney, Australia
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Posted 9/29/13
What are some recurring cultural themes that you've noticed in animes you've seen?

I noticed the significance in the reference of dolls. It seems to be a recurring theme for most animes... some examples would be Yami no matsuei, Darker than black and an anime I'm watching now called "Hakkenden". And even in Naruto, there are characters dedicated to the art of doll-making.

Just wondering what cultural themes other people have noticed.


I'm not even sure if dollmaking is a cultural thing in Japan, but I'm just assuming that it must be from how it is mentioned or used frequently in anime.
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23 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 9/29/13
Does anything pertaining to Germany count?
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25 / M / Sydney, Australia
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Posted 9/29/13 , edited 9/29/13

qualeshia3 wrote:

Does anything pertaining to Germany count?


i'm not sure what you mean

i'm talking about cultural things in japan seen in anime
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Posted 9/29/13

GayAsianBoy wrote:


qualeshia3 wrote:

Does anything pertaining to Germany count?


i'm not sure what you mean

i'm talking about cultural things in japan seen in anime


Damn. I was thinking outside of Japan.
Umm....does this count?

http://blog.asiansecrets.co/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Ceramic-Lucky-Cat-With-Moving-Hand.png
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Posted 9/29/13
Pretty much all schools seem to use the Westminster Chimes to signal the end of a period, despite being an English thing. I've always thought that was interesting. Does that count?
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34 / M / Planet Sanno
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Posted 9/29/13
I recommend the book The Anime Companion (and its sequel) by Gilles Poitras. The subtitle is What's Japanese In Japanese Animation, and, though its examples are rather dated (and heavily weighted towards works by Rumiko Takahashi), they explain a lot of the oddities, symbols, and themes that you see in anime to this day.
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Posted 9/29/13

qualeshia3 wrote:

Damn. I was thinking outside of Japan.
Umm....does this count?

http://blog.asiansecrets.co/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Ceramic-Lucky-Cat-With-Moving-Hand.png



Yeah it does lol. That cat statue is pretty much in every Asian store I go to.
It's supposed to bring in money according to the superstition.



Madman6510 wrote:

Pretty much all schools seem to use the Westminster Chimes to signal the end of a period, despite being an English thing. I've always thought that was interesting. Does that count?


Yeah it does count, and that's an interesting one.
Well a lot of Western things have been incorporated into the Japanese culture, such as the sailor uniforms.
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50 / M / In
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Posted 9/29/13
the Sailor uniforms go back to the mid 20's when militarism really started to take hold in japan
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Posted 9/29/13 , edited 9/29/13

uncletim wrote:

the Sailor uniforms go back to the mid 20's when militarism really started to take hold in japan


The standard male student uniforms are actually taken from the German public education system of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, along with a number of other key features: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Germany#German_Empire (Do they exams described in the Weimer Republic sound familiar?).

Oh, and I do believe the sailor uniforms were introduced in the Taisho era (1912-1926), mainly because a major plot point at the beginning of Taisho Baseball Girls is the main character being disappointed she can't get one of the new uniforms for school, and is forced to wear the old-fashioned hakama.

The emphasis of the group over the individual is another prominent cultural theme, even outside (perhaps moreso) school anime. This doesn't seem to be quite as prominent lately, but maybe I just haven't been paying as close attention.
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23 / M / This Dying World
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Posted 9/29/13
Japanese people don't have black hair.
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Posted 9/29/13
I've noticed that the foreign characters (like Tina Foster from Ai Yori Aoshi or Asuka from NGE) tend to be depicted as "loud-mouthed and obnoxious" whereas the Japanese characters are well-behaved and modest. This might be a manifestation of the xenophobia that exists in Japan.
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Posted 9/29/13

Teung wrote:

I've noticed that the foreign characters (like Tina Foster from Ai Yori Aoshi or Asuka from NGE) tend to be depicted as "loud-mouthed and obnoxious" whereas the Japanese characters are well-behaved and modest. This might be a manifestation of the xenophobia that exists in Japan.


I've always thought that was more a generalization of foreigners based on stereotypes, but I guess that could fit a very vague definition of "xenophobia" in a way.
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Posted 9/30/13
This is one of the subjects I love the most, and I'm currently not energized enough to explain it in a way that makes me sound smartish like!

One of the biggest things I've noticed recently, is the prevalent "acceptance of death" in Traditional Japanese culture, and anime in general.
Huge spoiler territory subject, like all death tropes, but to put it simple.



Taking a side step, we've also got one of the most obvious differences. The "Responsibility vs Growth" mindsets.

Superman never trains to use his power, he doesn't learn how to fly better, punch harder. He learns to take responsibility for his actions, that he has power to change the world, and he should change the world. He makes moral choices.

Goku doesn't think "well, Frieza's job is selling planets to buyers, maybe he sells planets to races in need of new planets or something? Maybe he's an ass sure,but he does good work leading the galaxy" No, Frieza's evil, do 100 Push ups and kick his face in.

I'm not going to list how many shows focus on gaining strength, do that yourself.

BACK to the Death trope, because I brought up Superman. Westerners are rather unaccepting of death in comparison. Someone is going to die? Oh FUCK THAT SHIT. Everyone get in the car, we're going to bring them back to life NO MATTER WHAT. Ain't nobody stays dead in comics!
When Louis dies in the Superman Movie, what does Superman do? He TURNS BACK TIME TO BRING HER BACK.
When Meg dies in the Disney movie Hercules, what does Herc do? HE GOES TO HELL AND BRINGS HER THE FUCK BACK TO LIFE, BEING GRANTED GODHOOD IN THE PROCESS.

That's how WE work. In contrast, look at Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.
At the end of TTGL, our heroes obtain the power to bring back anybody who died back to life. And believe me, a LOT of people died.
But they don't do it. In fact, they accepted the death of those who died, and think it's an insult to bring them back to life, AFTER THEY SPEND 8 EPISODES AND CROSS MULTIPLE UNIVERSES JUST TO BRING THEM BACK FROM A KIDNAPPING.
Kidnapped? Go to the end of time to save'em.
Dead? Sure I could bring them back to life, but that's not right is it?

In various series where a Main-character dies, a form of resurrection exists and was in fact, used by the bad-guys previously. Ninja Scroll's villain, Samurai 7's robot-samurai, Katanagatari's um...dude from the past who resurrected in the future(wut?)

Villains can come back to life, and that's evil.


Those are things of culture in anime I like to talk about. There ain't no point in talking about culture if you don't compare it to someone else's culture! Thats what I think anyways.
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Posted 9/30/13

Felstalker wrote:

This is one of the subjects I love the most, and I'm currently not energized enough to explain it in a way that makes me sound smartish like!

One of the biggest things I've noticed recently, is the prevalent "acceptance of death" in Traditional Japanese culture, and anime in general.
Huge spoiler territory subject, like all death tropes, but to put it simple.


Just putting this out there, but I always feel like spoilers are much more effective when you let others know what you'll be spoiling before they open the spoiler.

And Hercules had the whole "going to hell to save your love" thing way back in the original Greek, so that's nothing new.
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Posted 9/30/13

eyeofpain wrote:


Felstalker wrote:

This is one of the subjects I love the most, and I'm currently not energized enough to explain it in a way that makes me sound smartish like!

One of the biggest things I've noticed recently, is the prevalent "acceptance of death" in Traditional Japanese culture, and anime in general.
Huge spoiler territory subject, like all death tropes, but to put it simple.


Just putting this out there, but I always feel like spoilers are much more effective when you let others know what you'll be spoiling before they open the spoiler.

And Hercules had the whole "going to hell to save your love" thing way back in the original Greek, so that's nothing new.


I'll be honest, I used the spoilers more to hide extra text than to spoil anything here. They are death related tho.

I'll disagree on the Greek thing. Greek culture has a lot to do with those with power being brought low, while those without power being raised high...to be brought low. Lots of focus on intelligence. Being clever was far more useful than being strong.

Hercules didn't go to hell to save his loved one, but as part of repentance for killing her. He was a strong demi-human, who was resented by Kings and Gods for his awesomeness. Hercules most famous accomplishment was atoning for his mistakes, not denying them. Megra died, Herc then cried, and did 12 labors to atone, and was granted Godhood for his efforts. Favored son of Zeus indeed.

Heroes who DID go to hell to bring back loved ones, always failed. Greek Mythology has a ton of stories how someone was super awesome, but that one minor flaw brought ruin upon them.

Hercules as prone to anger
Odysseus loved to brag too much
I just spend like, an hour or so looking up Greek myths on Wikipeida......

Um, yeah. ANYHOW. Greek is western culture still. East meets West and all. West is rather big too.
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