Manga and Anime: Why Should We Care?
For those of you that don't know, manga is a term for Japanese comics. Anime is a term for Japanese animated cartoons, or the animated version of manga. Manga has some cultural and historical significance in Japan, having been around for over a thousand years. Today, manga and anime has taken their place in popular culture worldwide. Such is its wide spread and enormous audience numbers, and as a dominant figure in Japan's global markets that manga and anime are a force that should be taken seriously.
We all know about Naruto, One Piece, and Bleach. And let's not forget one of the most famous cartoon from our childhoods: Pokémon. All of them are from Japan. All of them are anime. And all of them are watched all over the world by millions, maybe even billions, of people.
People in other cultures can also learn about some of Japan's culture and customs through manga and anime, such as household and outside manners like how they greet each other, how people address each other in different settings, or some of Japan's religions, such as Shintoism. The kinds of celebrations, traditional dress, and the Japanese people's own way of celebrating holidays like Valentine's Day, can also be learned from reading manga and watching anime. It was actually this way that I learned that on Valentine's Day in Japan, it's the girls that give the chocolate to the boys they like-like, as well as boys who are just friends or family. And then the boys reciprocate on a holiday called White Day.
That is to say, not everything in manga and anime is fiction. But also not everything in manga and anime are facts, as well. Some manga and anime can be educational and provide numerous facts, depending on the story and subject. Some examples of such manga and anime can be found if looked for carefully enough. In fact, some manga and anime were made with the purpose of informing the audience while providing entertainment.
Like with most aspects of popular culture such as video games and television, manga and anime have been seen by parents and teachers as things that would interfere with the students' education. However, manga and anime can be used as educational tools as well. It isn't just about Japanese culture that you can learn from manga and anime. Manga and anime, if used correctly, can get students thinking. I've read of methods using wordless comics to spark the students' imagination and get them thinking of how the story might be about and get them to describe it in more detail.
It's entertaining way of describing and talking about subjects such as various forms of art, history, science, and religion could easily grab the attention of even the most disinterested student. And as a teacher once said, it is important in teaching to grab the interest of the student. I've read of one or two accounts of this, though I won't go into that.
And they've been used to promote sports and traditional and modern games like mahjong, Go, basketball, soccer, etc. If they can be used to promote sports and games, why not use them to promote stuff like math, literature, history, etc.? Actually, they have done so for history. There are many manga and anime using famous historical figures of Japan such as the infamous Oda Nobunaga in today.
To sum it all up, manga and anime are a cultural force to be considered seriously. Not only is it widespread, it can be informative and educational. Comics in general can and have been used as entertaining tools to engage their students in whatever subjects. And manga and anime has been used to promote many things from board games to sports and whatever's in between.
This article won't go into any details on the scholarly research on manga and anime, although there should be educated and well-researched articles on the subject online. Such sources will not be specified in this article. The author would recommend using EBSCOHost or Google Scholar as well as your school or university resources.