The following post was submitted by a guest writer by the name of Rose Martin. I do not typically take in submissions, but have decided to make an exception out of goodwill and edited it to fit the style of my blog. I will be back with my old reviews very soon.
Image Credit: Image via: https://www.pexels.com/photo/comic-cosplay-convention-connichi-69378/
Japan is the birthplace of anime. Much before the genre came to the west, anime was popular in Japan. During the 1960’s, the anime series Astro Boy (Japanese: Mighty Atom) was broadcast outside Japan and became hugely successful. This led to the importation and localization of more anime series that were shown to Western audiences.
Along with the rise of anime, manga, the Japanese term for comics, also became popular across the globe. These graphic novels, made popular by Japanese cartoonist Osamu Tezuka, are read by children and adults of varying age groups.
The global rise in popularity of anime and manga has also led to the rise of anime conventions, where fans gather to meet their favorite artists, directors, and actors; attendees usually dress up as characters from various anime, manga, and video games as well. These genres of Japanese media have also inspired the following 6 products:
Image Credit: Gekijouban Pocket Monsters: Mewtwo no Gyakushuu, Raku Subs
1. Pokémon-Inspired Drugs
Pocket Monsters, better known as its portmanteau Pokémon outside of Asia, is one of Japan’s most popular video game franchises, spanning an anime and several manga derivatives and is recognized globally as a franchise synonymous with Japan. The Pokémon craze has continued thanks to the recent Pokémon Go game becoming a massive hit with people of all ages. The mobile phone game was downloaded over 500 million times in the first two months after it was released in July 2016. In fact, the mobile phone game was the first of its kind to reach USD $600 million in revenues. Pikachu, the partner Pokemon of the central protagonist of the Pokémon anime was also the official mascot for Japan at the 2014 FIFA held in Brazil.
Given the success and popularity of the franchise, it almost doesn’t come as a surprise that Pokémon has also inspired a line of illegal drugs. The hallucinogenic drugs are available in the shape of Pikachu and contain traces of ecstasy.
The drugs fall under the 2C category of narcotics, have hallucinatory properties, and are also known as ‘Triptacy’ and ‘7-UP.’ The drugs are aimed at the younger segment of the population.
Image Credit: Assassaination Classroom, Episode 1
2. Koro-sensei Merchandise
This is based on the popular Assassination Classroom, a Japanese science fiction manga series, where Koro-sensei (a combination/pun on 殺せない Korosenai (unkillable) and 先生 sensei (teacher)) is a teacher who threatens to destroy Planet Earth. The merchandise featuring a smiling Koro-sensei is available in various forms including bags and beanies.
Image Credit: Danny Choo
These body pillows are used especially by fans of anime. The word dakimakura can be translated to “hug pillow” and these became especially popular in the 90s after the rise of otaku, a subsect of die-hard anime fans in Japan (basically the Japanese equivalent of “geeks”). These large adult-length pillows feature anime characters on the front and back in various poses. For example, a Yuri on Ice body pillow features the main characters from the popular anime show of the same name. Although there is no exact reason why these pillows are so popular, it can only be assumed that it’s the same reason why fans hang posters of their favorite movie stars on their bedroom walls. These pillows are popular with both girls and boys in Japan.
Image Credit: Toriyama Akira
4. Dragon Ball Z Shoes
When this popular Japanese anime television series, based on the second half of another manga series called Dragon Ball, was released in the United States in the mid-1990s, it consistently ranked as one of the most popular anime shows on Cartoon Network. The story follows a young battle-hungry hero, Son Goku, who defends planet Earth from all sorts of evil characters with the help of his friends. We see Goku as an adult and follow the journey of his sons, Gohan and Goten, all the while seeing how Goku’s archenemies, Piccolo and Vegeta, eventually become allies. In 2015, the popularity of this anime series led to the creation of Dragon Ball Z sneakers. Created by a Mexican apparel company called Heredia clothing, these shoes are available in a three-part collection, which uses design elements from Goku, Vegeta and Vegeta’s son, Trunks.
Anime has been popular in Japan for several decades and, along with manga, both have influenced creative expression not only in Japan, but around the world. The products mentioned here are inspired by either anime or manga, and are loved by fans of the genres around the world. Some of the world’s best animated creations have originated in Japan and continue to do so. Given the popularity of anime, it is only inevitable that products influenced by the medium will continue to be created.