The rise of the Australian otaku

Posted: May 31, 2012 by Karisa Whelan in Arts & Culture, Music, Social Issues

by Karisa McCauley

I have a confession to make. I am an otaku.

I own some figurines. I once dressed up as Sailor Moon for a costume party. I watch cartoons. I play Pokemon.
That’s right, I am a fan of Japanese anime, manga and video games. In fact, I love all things Japan.

But with more and more of us coming out, I am no longer afraid to share my obsession.

Because I am not alone.

Anime and manga have a long history in Japan and both can trace their roots back to traditional Japanese woodblock art.

Manga is best described as Japanese comic books and it has been suggested the art form can trace its history to the art scrolls of the 12th century, with the serialised form emerging in the ‘Punch’ style magazines of the 1870s.

It was during the US Occupation of Japan, from 1945 to 1952, that modern mangas came to life with the genre thriving during the artistic explosion of the 1950s and 1960s.

Mangas are often serialised. They are popular with men and women of all ages in Japan and many successful mangas have been made into anime.

Anime is the shortened word for the Japanese pronunciation of animation and is used to refer to the distinctly Japanese style of animation characterised by bright colours, large eyes and simple design.

The earliest known Japanese animation dates back to 1917, but it was during the 1960s that the cartoons developed their characteristic anime style.

Anime gained popularity outside of Japan in the 1980s thanks to shows like Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion and Speed Racer.

So, now you know what it is, why are so many people embracing the art?

Variety is the key to the popularity of both anime and manga.
There is an anime out there for everyone.
Anime and manga themes are just as varied as the themes found in television shows, movies and books.
There are ‘girl’ animes – romance, fashion, music, friendship.
There are ‘boy’ animes – action, adventure, science fiction, fantasy.
There is even pornographic anime, known as hentai.
You name it – there is an anime or manga about it.
And not only are they varied – they are fun.
But this is only brushing the surface.
What I, and most true fans, love about Japanese anime and manga is the depth shown in every story.
Anime captures emotion just as well as any actor ever could.
The long and often sad history of Japan gives anime its underlying emotional depth.
Anime characters are rarely perfect.
They are alienated, they’re from broken families, they struggle to fit in.
They may be rendered in 2D but the characters are multi-dimensional.
Anime and manga resonate with fans of all ages.
They can make you laugh, and make you cry, just as any good entertainment should.
It is truly an art form.
So why not check out some more anime – embrace the silly cartoons – you might just find more than you ever imagined.
To keep updated on all things anime check out the Anime News Network.
Or to start your own collection of anime and manga, visit Australia’s leading anime importers, Madman.
To hear more from some otaku, head here or here.

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