Anime: Negotiating Social Concerns of Cultural Decay Through Myth and Japanese Popular Culture

Dana Hehl, University of Redlands


Anime is a form of storytelling, using animation as an element of entertainment, which employs graphics, narrative, and cinematic effects to enforce the message it attempts to detail: "...The Japanese have been using anime to cover every literary and cinematic genre imaginable in a highly competitive market that encourages new story ideas and the creative reworking of older ideas and themes." As a form of popular culture, reaching mass audiences, anime employs myth as a meta-structure, empowering imagination to address established social dissatisfactions. Through this medium, notions of cultural decay are negotiated on an intimate level, allowing concerns to be safely expressed and diffused, but not requiring motivation to effect change. However, anime does not wholly alleviate or solve these social fears, nor does it leave the viewer completely placated or pacified, as it leaves a suggestion of hope in the mind of the spectator. Concerns are formalized, evaluated through anime, attending the level of social consciousness, but transformation or revolution is a slow and arduous process, one which a form of entertainment cannot affect alone.