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Drawn to Inspire- The Keizai of Manga and Anime

Shinzou Wo Sasageyo - 'Devote your heart'

This chronicle discourse of devotion and reverence colloquially portrays the impromptu style of Japanese comic books and graphic novels, known as Manga which focuses on ganbaru or to do your best.

Manga themes the Oedipal struggles of father figures against the backdrop of cosmic war with the protagonist undergoing One punch man-like training (100 pushups, 100 squats and 10km running everyday for three years). What makes manga outsell is its narrative, sekai-kei which reflects upon the catastrophic end of the world and teenagers who are suffering from depression that set the stage for the self reflective satires of the superhero genre. Later, to cater to the growing ferocity of digitized action, Japan started it's own version of hand drawn and computer animation i.e. Anime.

There are times when I feel completely unmotivated and lose the will to survive. These days, I just grab my manga. But what manga grabs is our monopolized attention. MANGA, which was hypothetically abbreviated as ‘Make America Not Great Again’ during imperialism, is now together with anime, the reason behind Japan's booming economy. But how? Let's take a look.

Anime Consumption and the Economy

The digitalization of anime has shaped its distribution channel filter which has conginated into Japan's economic trend. In 2006 – before the worldwide 2008 market crash – anime consumption hit its peak; with a domestic revenue of 194.7 billion yen; and during the recession, consumption hit 129.5 billion yen. In 2009, post-crash economy, Japanese Prime Minister, Taro Ato praised the economic capabilities of manga and anime for its stimulation to draw attention from around the globe. To fight increased entertainment-dollar competition and slack overseas markets, Japan started the "Cool Revolution", a $500 million fund, which advertised cultural items abroad and resulted in anime localization protrudes, pop culture exporting, and the Anime Consortium. To mention, Attack on Titan, which was created after the recession due likely to economic instability, was a revitalizing breath of fresh air from the more “pandering” anime and generated over $60.5 million in manga and similar products.

Integrating Anime into Consumerism

The artistic upshots are worth noting. The depictions of food alone are so tempting: fluffy pancakes drizzled with syrup and generously topped with pineapple and peach. Every background shown in anime may be an actual building in Japan. This adds to its tourism industry.

When I first visited Japan, I was beguiled to see the seamlessness and customary integration of anime marketed into everyday life in Japan. Items such as Pepsi having Tiger and Bunny be their “sponsored superheroes" and Pizza Hut appeared in Code Geass like an omnipresent god. Anime’s and Manga's symbiotic relationship with product placement is an incorporation of real world media into anime and, in return, placement in real world media.

Japan analysed the revenue generating capability of Pikachu’s thunderbolt attack that struck America’s Pop culture in the 90s and changed the lives of Gen-Z. But at what cost? It didn't account for the tension between the ruthless industry structure and anime’s artistic idealism, forcing animators to suffer exploitation for the sake of art. The following darker sides of this industry remained behind the curtains.

Manga’s slave labor trouble

At the entry level, one cut -one scene- there are three to four in-between animators or freelancers working on it. They make hand-drawn animation based on storylines tailored by directors, senior animators and key animators.

Moving up the ladder with grim working conditions is a meticulous task, chances are you'll still be underpaid since they're independent contractors and can be enforced with grueling deadlines. Its structural iniquities stem back to the creator who introduced the endless ubiquitous catalogue of precedents and innovations, Osamu Tezuka. Huge, expressive eyes? Check. The use of pen strokes to suggest movement? Check. Panning the camera over static scenes and cutting away to new ones quickly to give the illusion of speed without having to fork out for high animation fees? Check. All of these elements are what makes anime a poetic cinema. Many TV networks were unwilling to air the animated series, so he under-sold Astro Boy. The company planned to cover the deficit through Astro Boy toys, figures and merchandise, branded candy, etc. These techniques soon became the status quo for production committees which set a dangerous precedent: to keep the costs low and exploit the newbies.

The price of ‘ato’

Artistry is the biggest appeal and soul of the anime. It has its own democratic spirit which beholds the fan subtitles, fanart and fan-fiction. When western companies like Netflix play in the market, they pay to get dirt-cheap and establish control prices. Merchandising companies, TV stations and foreign streaming services take away the profits, leaving not only individual animators behind to grasp out but entire animation studios scraping by on shoestring budgets.

It's a passion for the low level animators, the creative and the passionate spirited seeds of the industry would rot away without a decent pay scale as their hydration. Anime studios should be provided with the same budget as the western studios or animators need to retain their rights to the drawings and in return, earn their royalties. To overcome the Netflix irregularities, Japan created its own online platform, Crunchyroll.

Anime stands at a Decussation

Anime helped in creating a positive image of a military centered nation that is Japan. In the mid 20th century, Japan was infamous for invading Korea, the technology it possessed was almost frightening; yet today the world knows Japan as the hub of meditation and its unique as well as preserved culture only because of ANIME and MANGA! The total number of Japanese speakers all around the world has increased mainly due to manga and anime which has brought many advantages to the Japanese government.

But it wouldn't be fair to state just the positive as we know, everything comes with a downside as well. Anime has tons of categories to pick from and not all of them are appropriate for the young ones. For instance, in China, the popular anime/manga series 'Death Note' was banned indefinitely because of its influence on children. The school-going children started writing their teacher's names at the back of their notebooks imitating the killing technique from Death Note. And the biggest side effect is that anime can be addictive. It has the power to cut you off from all the other dramas, theatres, other artforms and make you binge every single anime series till the end.

The sensitivity of the Japanese culture has been drawn into each of the figures perfectly. Where a simple phrase such as "I love you" can bring a level of difference in the whole story, we understand that importance of words which is somewhere lost in the western culture but is still active in the Japanese culture. In fact, getting to understand the importance of words is the actual beauty of these stories. Take an example where in Naruto, we learn that if a girl rejects you-- start a war! Just kidding, it teaches us that hatred is born in order to protect love. Wherever there's light, there will always be shadows to be found as well. As long as there's a concept of victors, the vanquished will also exist (Madara Uchiha). All these emotions, lessons, experiences, bonds, expectations grow on us and make us want to be like our favorite anime character. This makes us think, are Manga and Anime the endgame for the American entertainment industry or is it still being crushed under the Ragnarok?

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