Week 8 – Anime

3/5. Looking at both Napier and Cavallaro (2006), discuss how these critics suggest anime is culturally ‘located’ – i.e., in the East or West, or somewhere else? What does she suggest about the differing status of animation in Japan and in the West?

Napier suggests that Anime holds a differing standing in the East than it does in the West. She states that “The culture to which anime belongs is a present a “popular” or “mass” culture in Japan, and in American it exists as a “sub” culture[1].” She also goes on further to report that anime in Japan is being perceived as an intellectually challenging art work that has garnered scholarly attention and writings as a result of the recent cultural shift in Japan. In contrast, Susan Pointon states that “perhaps what is most striking about anime, compared to other imported media that have been modified for the American market, is the lack of compromise in making these narratives palatable[2].”

Cavallaro suggests in his work that “western audiences tend to regard animation as a second-rate art form and – when judging specifically Japanese animation – [tend] to dismiss it as violent, superficial, cliched and technically “cold”[3].” He further states that “[Western audiences] do not take into consideration the distinctive importance of cartoons and animated films in the context of Japan, failing to acknowledge that in that culture, manga (and their cinematic correlatives) are an integral component of literature and popular culture[4].

4. Is anime a high or low cultural genre/media, according to Napier (2005)? How does she frame her discussion and argue her case?

Napier perceives anime as a high culture genre/media as it has roots in high culture and “clearly builds on previous high cultural traditions. Not only does the medium show influences from such Japanese traditional arts as Kabuki and the woodblock print (originally popular culture phenomena themselves), but it also makes use of worldwide artistic traditions of twentieth-century cinema and photography.[5]” She also states that the issues anime explores reflect those seen in high culture literature (both in and out of Japan) and viewers of the contemporary art cinema scene.


[1] Napier, S. (2005). Why anime? in ‘Anime: from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle’. Hampshire: Palgrave/ Macmillan, p. 4.

[2] Napier, S (2005), p. 9.

[3] Cavallaro, D. (2006). Introduction in ‘The Anime Art of Hayao Miyazaki’. London: McFarland & Company, p. 12.

[4] Cavallaro, D. (2006), p. 13.

[5] Napier, S. (2005) p. 4.

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