I’m a fan of anime and manga, although I don’t actually follow the zillions of comics or animated series and movies, because they’re instrumental in building bridges between Japan and the United States. I’ve spoken with eager young Caucasian anime fans in full cosplay (dressed in costumes playing the part of their favorite anime characters) who said they’re taking Japanese classes, and are planning on Japanese Studies in college, because they love anime so much.
That’s some powerful tug on the hearts and minds of our country’s future leaders.
And anime and manga are just the most visible signs of pop culture’s powerful effects, thanks to the many festivals and conventions across the US, and the popularity of anime programming on cable TV. Just take a look at video games, movies, and music, and Japan’s influence on America goes way beyond instant ramen and sushi happy hours. (Ramen shops are exploding in cities everywhere, but that’s another post….)
Curiously, though, J-pop, or Japanese pop music, hasn’t made too much of a dent in the American charts over the years.
Just last year, if you have kids you may have caught a catchy bit of bubblegum rock called “Sugar Rush” from the soundtrack of the Disney animated feature “Wreck-It Ralph” (notice how if it’s an American film we call it “animated feature” and if it’s Japanese we call it ”anime?”). The song plays over the end of the film, which will be released on DVD and Blue-Ray, etc. on March 5. You can see the super-sweet adorable video of the group singing it on YouTube above.