Last weekend, a friend and I stumbled upon a manga-anime fair. According to this article, it was the annual manga-anime fair that took place in various places in Kyoto, and its main purpose was to recruit new animators. I guess however, that most visitors there were simply fans.
It was an interesting but at the same time somewhat weird experience. The booths were covered in large pictures of anime characters, from cute girls to manly warriors and space captains to scary robots. There were also many flat screens showing the latest episodes of their anime. Some booths had merchandise for sale, others sported several attendants, mostly young, female and dressed accordingly, that is to say, rather scantily. But also the visitors were interesting to watch – a number of them wore the attire of their favourite manga character, regardless of gender: I have seen one guy dressed up as a female anime, short skirt, stockings, and a pink wig included. The booth I found most interesting though, was one where two women were painting a scene; one in the traditional way with watercolors, the other one on a large tablet.
Anime and manga are an enormous business in Japan. Large sections of bookstores are devoted to all sorts of manga, ranging from well known characters for children like Doraemon, to stories of all sorts for teenagers and adults (there are manga and anime about martial arts, history, cooking!…) to the sexually explicit hentai for the … um … connaisseur (to be perused at leisure in buses and trains). Many people even use manga to study Japanese. The industry’s internet advertising revenue is more than 180 billion yen, and 70% of all DVD’s sold in Japan are anime.
Personally however, I have to admit that I don’t quite get it, certainly because I did not grow up in this culture. I mean, I do fondly remember the series Heidi, Perrine, or Captain Future of my childhood (yes, all of them were produced in Japan, Biene Maja also), but at some point, well … I grew up. Whether that was a good thing or not I am not entirely sure 😉