How anime and manga has infiltrated Western culture

I remember back in the day, in junior high, when I thought about how strange it was that the great comic book series, Dragonball Z and City Hunter were not available for purchase in the United States except through imports. No, back then all you had were the comic strips in the paper, and your typical Marvel and DC comic books.

Then in 1998, an amazing thing happened. Cartoon Network‘s Toonami block launched Dragonball Z. Yes, I would imagine that the credit from a national influence really started out with them. That was about the time that Sailor Moon also was showing up in the States all edited so that kids wouldn’t be “shocked” by the naked Sailors changing into their super powerhouse costumes.

Things have come a long ways since then. Adult Swim launched in 2001, showing more mature rated anime such as the ever popular Fullmetal Alchemist, Bleach, and Death Note. In fact, there are more and more anime conventions being handled in the United States where popular jrock bands are taking their world tours like the S.K.I.N. launch at the Anime Expo in 2007.

Even the manga industry has literally exploded in the last three years or so. By observation alone, I remember when the bookstore, Borders, only had one single bookcase of manga and that has since grown to six eight foot bookcases in only a couple of years. If a single store can manage to grow that much of this genre, then they’re obviously selling them like hot cakes. This also shows the growth of English manga publishers like Tokyopop which coincides strangely enough within a couple years of the Cartoon Network move towards Japanese animation.

Overall, this niche of Japanese art has single-handedly dominated not only the last decade of toys and entertainment, but will continue to do so for many more to come. Isn’t it flabbergasting how it wasn’t but a couple decades ago that I wondered why the US didn’t have Dragonball?

Photo Credit: (bluemodem)

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About Ben

Ben Hwang is involved in a number of online publications and also writes at his personal blog, LUX.ET.UMBRA. When he's not in the middle of starting companies and dreaming up new ventures, he is heavily involved in local community efforts. Currently resides in North Carolina.
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