Japanese Popular Culture

In many democratic societies such as Japan, social factors such as alienation are widespread among the general public. Japanese culture productions are crucial in addressing alienation as a theme in the society. The productions such as anime and manga explore the real issues associated to alienation in the daily lives of the Japanese people. The productions, however, do not present the complexities, uncertainties and the contradictions of the modern life as presented in documentaries and novels. In addressing alienation, the Japanese culture production has been assumed to be powerful when they are not necessarily powerful.

Alienation stories have become too familiar in Japan. People often do their best to ignore these stories despite the heavy content that they have. The ignorance of these alienation stories has left only the documentaries by the media and novel giving the exact truth and extensive coverage of the issues. It would be expected that Japanese culture productions would address the issue of alienation looking at the causes and how the problem can be reduced (Tai, 2003). This has not been achieved, and it is only the media through documentaries and novels that the issue has been addressed.

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To understand the link between the Japanese culture productions and the role they play in the society, it is important to look at the terms and how they relate to each other. Scholars have had different arguments on what to be considered as Japanese popular culture and those that are not in the category. The images that are presented by the media on world issues such as alienation in Japan have arguably helped in identity shaping of the factors that have contributed to alienation (Aarseth, 2006). Japanese anime is important when research on the alienation in the society is to be done. The importance can be seen in several cases. The first reason is that the animes serve as a reflection and inspire the changes that have been in the Japanese society. The animes are also expected to help in understanding the dynamics of the culture and what could have led to alienation as a world issue. Although the cultures may not necessarily identify the distinct characters that might have led to these issues, they are still important is showing the dynamics.

According to Tai, (2003),the anime industry and productions are important in showing these dynamics since unlike in the United States where the animation industry has targeted a particular age group and sex, the Japanese culture productions cater for all ages and sexes. When these aspects are combined with the argument above that trough the analysis of Japanese popular culture, one can gain insight into the Japanese society (Giddings and Lister, 2011). Gaining insight into the society enables the formation of foundation for observing how alienation in Japanese society can be analyzed when the role of Japanese animes considered.

Several factors make Japanese anime interesting when studying alienation. The anime caters for diverse tastes, and this makes it different from the western animation. Despite the difference, it has been argued that the anime does not fully show the problems as they are experienced in the society (Aarseth, 2006). The Japanese anime mainly gives the outward view and not get to details on the factors that could have led to the alienation and what next to solve these problems. It is through other media that detailed information on alienation in Japan is obtained.

The relationship between the media and alienation and the role that the media play in modern society in addressing alienation has formed a central research for many. The media in Japan has been ascribed to be conflicting when it comes to their roles and functions in addressing such issues such as alienation. The media has been termed ‘servant of the state’ to being an independent critical force on behalf of the public (Aarseth, 2006). The media such as documentaries and novels have well explained and given the exact state of alienation in the country. Japanese culture productions such as anime have also addressed the situations, but they have not brought the complexities and contradictions.

Alienation is a factor in Japan that many feels should be addressed through the media such as documentaries and popular culture productions. Japan popular culture productions such as anime have not achieved the expectation, and it has mainly been used for entertainment. Despite some of the productions addressing alienation, it has been done at shallow levels. Japanese culture productions would greatly address alienation issues considering their penetration into other parts of the word as opposed to documentaries and novel (Giddings and Lister, 2011). When one starts listing the example of Japanese culture productions that have infiltrated the other parts of the world such as the United States, it becomes hard to stop.

Manga as an example has had major economic and cultural impact on the Japanese. Manga is a major part of the publishing industry in Japan. It is expected that it should address issues that affect the society exhaustively. Alienation is a theme in the Japanese culture that has been addressed but has not been addressed with the cultural production exhaustively. Documentaries and novels have addressed the issues giving the controversies and the complexities. Many conservative people in Japan believe that other media such as documentaries and novels have had a great influence public opinion and mainly those journalists that work in commercial televisions. Public broadcast by these televisions has been considered the source of reliable and objective news when it comes to alienation.

Japanese culture productions have been accepted in several parts of the world. Westerners have enjoyed the animes from Manga to the current produced. It would be expected that when it comes to addressing issues in the society, animes would have been used more than novels and documentaries. In dealing with social issues such as alienation, it is important to use that publication or media that more people enjoy. In these cases, Japanese anime could have been used more in addressing the issue as compared to the use of documentaries



Aarseth, E. (2006). The Culture and Business of Cross-Media Productions. Popular Communication, 4(3), pp.203-211.

Giddings, S. and Lister, M. (2011). The new media and technocultures reader. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Martinez, D. ed., 1998. The worlds of Japanese popular culture: gender, shifting boundaries and global cultures. Cambridge University Press.

Productions of culture in Japan. (1995). Chicago, IL: Center for East Asian Studies, University of Chicago.

Tai, E. (2003). Rethinking Culture, National Culture, and Japanese Culture. Japanese Language and Literature, 37(1), p.1.