Ashita no Anime

Anime of Tomorrow

Additional Thoughts on New People Travel

A friend of mine suggested I check out an interesting article on New People Travel Web Magazine containing a series of interviews from some creative Japanese men, several of whom have connections with anime.  What I found was a level of insight to Japanese culture through the words and lives of these people which may elude many in the west who have not experienced Japan firsthand.  I’d like to share with you some of the little details of what makes Japan different from America and how it may have shaped the thinking of these individuals.

Mamoru OshiiMamoru Oshii He claims to be unable to read a map and being dependent on the navigational GPS in your car is not unheard of within the Japanese population.  Every relatively nice vehicle in Japan comes equipped with a GPS built into the dash and many of these screens even connect to a rear-facing camera for backing into parking spaces in the narrow lots that never seem to have enough spaces.

Mamoru HosodaMamoru Hosoda The creator of The Wolf Children reminded me of how many Japanese see life as an adventure.  This isn’t such an unheard of concept outside of the country and the wisdom of this statement comes easily enough.  But what I find astonishing is the ability of the people to compartmentalize this journey between their professional and private lives.  When it’s time to work, they focus on work and when it’s time to play they switch to play and always seem to give 100% all the time.

Daisuke Tsutsumi As much praise as I have for Japan, no culture is perfect and this man who has spent most of his professional career in America reveals something that I think many people struggle with on both sides of the Pacific.  All too often we are swayed by the opinions of others to fit some kind of niche that is simply expected of us, regardless of what we as individuals may or may not want.  And a failure to fit into such a hole can be interpreted as a failure of those close to us as well, only much more in Japan.  But Daisuke has eschewed such notions and found a place of happiness and success all for himself.

Katsuhito IshiiKatsuhito Ishii Whenever someone asks me in what ways Japan is different from America, I immediately go to its attention for detail.  Everything in Japan has some aesthetic property to it.  Even a simple guardrail on a tiny bridge over a drainage ditch is likely to have some sort of flower design on the metal.  Ishii calls it a kind of “delicate care” that is absent on most of the public artifacts that America produces simply to be functional and beauty is deemed unnecessary.

 

Yoshitaka AmanoYoshitaka Amano I’m reminded of how American culture automatically assumes that animation is only for kids.  The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park have changed perceptions on this stereotype somewhat, but anime tends to have a rather fresh and young appearance to it that has made its path to mainstream acceptance difficult.  However, that anime combines its mature themes with what is ostensibly a youthful visual style shows that in Japan, adults are allowed to continue to have what would be perceived in America as rather childish tastes with few social repercussions.

Japan and America are both similarly modern countries and aside from the immediately obvious differences of language and smaller sizes, an American might feel as though he or she never left the states. Ultimately, it’s the little things that all add up.  I think this reveals that no matter where you are, people are much more similar than our preconceived biases would allow us to believe.

Photos courtesy of New People Travel.

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