Nostalgia in Anime: Redefining Japanese Cultural Identity in Global Media Texts
Noh, Susan S.
Macovski, Michael S
Anime has become a ubiquitous facet of the transnational global media flow, and continues to serve as a unique and acknowledged example of a non-Western media form that has successfully penetrated the global market. Because of its remarkable popularity abroad and a trend towards invasive localization techniques, there have been observations made by Japanese culture scholars, such as Koichi Iwabuchi, who claim that anime is a stateless medium that is unsuitable for representing any true or authentic depiction of Japanese culture and identity.In this paper, I will be exploring this notion of statelessness within the anime medium and reveal how unique sociocultural tensions are reflected centrally within anime narratives or at the contextual peripheries, in which the narrative acts as an indirect response to larger societal concerns. In particular, I apply the notions of reflective and restorative nostalgia, as outlined by Svetlana Boym to reveal how modern Japanese identity is recreated and redefined through anime. In this sense, while anime may appeal to a larger global public, it is far from being a culturally stateless medium. In Chapter One, I look into the history of anime, focusing on Tetsuwan Atom and Sazae-san as foundational pieces of modern postwar anime that have shaped two genres distinctive to Japanese animation: mecha and iyashikei. In Chapter Two, I analyze the ways in which director Shinkai Makoto approaches the mediation of tradition and modernity to sustain a unique sense of Japanese cultural identity within the globally popular anime film, Kimi no na wa.
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