Whenever we talk about the presence of Cultural Imperialism in terms of media, the first thing that comes to mind would be the high influx of American TV products on local television such as channel 5. And a thing we tend to overlook, would be that Japan also generates a form of Cultural Imperialism not only on our grounds, but in American soil as well. And an example would be the animated programmes our youths are watching nowadays.
Japanese programmes such as Pokemon, Masked Rider, Bakugan Battle Brawlers just to name a few remain at the top of the more popular shows on local kids television in Singapore. With many more popular titles which have since stopped showing. But if you thought the Japanese influence ended here, you would be surprised to know that America is flooded with such programmes, and FOX kids features a tonne more of Japanese ‘anime’ on their television compared to our local television. The poor dubbing of the Japanese voices does not stop people from watching such programmes as there are many reasons to why ‘anime’ could garner up to so many viewers as compared to American cartoons.
Many American media industries focus on Hollywood live action films and television shows, leaving Disney to tackle animated programmes. Whereas the Japanese however, have over a hundred companies devoting their resources into animation, leaving them able to perfect techniques and creatively come up with new ‘anime’ and reach out to viewers in no way American animation can compare. Coupled with superior visual qualities and originality of plots which never fail to capture or retain its audiences attention despite some of the longer runs of popular series, it is of no surprise the Japanese have managed to overcome the West in terms of animation. Furthermore, the Japanese ‘anime’ was very diversified and catered to kids and adults alike, from TV series to cinemas, and even though some depicted violence and grotesque themes, elements of humour was always included to ensure the tone and message brought across is neutral. A spectacular example would be that of the internationally renowned “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea”, which opened number nine at the United States box office, something which was rare for a film with such an origin. And was even dubbed into English by Disney due to its overwhelming popularity.
Indeed, what seemed to be perpetual American dominance in the sphere of animation has been ousted since the birth of popular ‘anime’ in the late 1900’s. And the Japanese have become worldwide leaders in terms of animation and have created their own form of Cultural Imperialism in this particular field.
Do you agree that cultural imperialism has left the shores of the West in terms of Japanese animation or in any other particular fields?
Or do you think that power has never left the west?
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