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Manga, Anime and Visual Art Culture

posted on 2023-05-22, 11:34 authored by Craig NorrisCraig Norris
Manga and anime are at the centre of significant innovations and cultural debates in Japan.While manga and anime are not identical fields – manga can be loosely defined as Japanese comic books, while anime encompasses the breadth of Japanese animation – they have become synonymous with a distinct Japanese contemporary visual culture and aesthetic in the eyes of many media and culture scholars and commentators around the world.While this chapter will refer to both mediums interchangeably to reflect their mutual contribution to Japan’s contemporary visual culture, it is important to distinguish between them and acknowledge their differences as well as their similarities. Many consider manga to be the origin: the creative vitality that spawned anime, and later video games and merchandising spin-offs. In many cases manga defined the template for the key genres – shōjo, shōnen, gekiga, and so on (see Table 13.1) – which have come to dominate the wider popular culture of Japan today. However, while manga established the roots of this style during the postwar period, it was through anime that a broader global audience became aware of a distinctive Japanese visual culture. Japan’s anime industry is large and continues to grow overseas. The scale of the industry varies according to how one defines anime’s breadth; for instance revenue earned from film, game and merchandise agreements alone has been estimated at more than ¥20 billion per year.1 However, at its core anime consists of three major forms: (1) feature-length films; (2) TV shows; and (3) video and DVD versions of anime shown on film and TV, and produced only for video and DVD formats.


Publication title

The Cambridge Companion to Modern Japanese Culture


Yoshio Sugimoto






School of Humanities


Cambridge University Press

Place of publication




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Copyright 2009 Cambridge University Press

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