In response to “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” from The Escapist Forum: The “strength” described as being the main lesson in Anime is actually what was traditionally held up as the goal for Western women until recently. Ask your grandmother (or your mother, if she was born in the early 50s or before) what a “good” girl was like when she was a kid, and what the ideal woman/wife was. The response will (with rare exception) talk about how “good” females were quiet, dependent, obedient, loyal to their family members even when abuse was involved, never fought, were to see being a wife/mother as the most wondeful thing to aspire to, and so forth.
They were taught that a female that wasn’t that way naturally (and that didn’t think it was wonderful) was defective, to be scorned/pitied, and that no guy would ever want to be with her. Girls that refused to fake it were ostracized & bullied (sometimes to the point of sexual assault), by their peers and often their family. So most did give in for survival; a lot of housewives became depressed, and handled it with alcohol & prescribed drugs (Valium in the ’50s) by their doctors. The core difference between the two cultures is that American women started pushing our society to allow the option of being whatever they are naturally in the late 1900s, and from what I’ve read Japan is only now in the early stages of something similarly significant.
I’ve been trying to be less confrontational lately, but I feel the uncontrollable urge to point out that for every Powerpuff Girls type show in American culture telling female children to go out there and kick ass (Kim Possible being a much better example, incidentally), there are about a dozen My Little Pony clones telling little girls something along the lines of, “Don’t worry about doing tough things like, for example, standing up for yourself or doing what’s right, just look cutesy and do sweet girlish things so boys will notice you.”
In response to “Konnichi wa, nihon!” from The Escapist Forum: Apart from the anime, I think Japan is interesting because of some bonds it has with the culture of the country I live in (holland); they haave been trade partners for a very long time. While people here are totally going manga, the japanese have built a village with windmills and wooden shoes.
So I guess the grass is greener on the other side goes both ways.
I do think about learning Japanese some days, but not just for the manga bit. I just love the sound of that language, it’s quite expressive. I like Russian and French for the same reason (though I can’t understand either of them)
as for the fanboys who say that they love Japan; I have known a couple of them. It just meant they liked the Japanese pop culture. When it comes to things such as everyday culture, history, etc, they knew incredibly…little.
Many of these guys are looking at Japan through rose-tinted glasses. Most of them are teens and young 20 somethings. It was my own research into Japan that made me stop being a Japanophile. I realized that they have their own sets of problems just like us Americans. I still like stuff that comes from there, but it’s tempered with the knowledge that they’re just people too.
– General Ma Chao
In response to “Hail to the Kitty” from The Escapist Forum: I’m not particularly feminine (I don’t think, anyway) but I rather like browsing Hello Kitty stores. My DS Lite is pink. My camera is pink. And when my boyfriend bought me a 360 controller and it was pink, well, I was giddy with delight.
It could be social conditioning that pink = happy, feminine. Maybe I’m trying to capture with color what I don’t think I already have. Same thing with Hello Kitty, perhaps?
While a rather interesting read, you still haven’t answered the big question yet; why?
I didn’t provide a sort of big wrap-up answer to the question of why Hello Kitty became the anthropological cultural icon that it did – mainly because I think I felt it would be arrogant to do so, and if I really knew, I’d have a very different job than I do and would probably would be making a lot more money.
In answer to your question, though, I think it’s a little bit of everything, and I think the progression of the article does go through that. Tsuji as a businessman did have a very accurate bead and perception of what was going to be successful in Japan when it did. He also, probably entirely accidentally, timed his local perception *just right* so that when Japanese culture became attractive to the west (as globally assimilated previously isolated lands tend to do – which might project that Arabic culture will be the next big rage in about 10 years) Hello Kitty rode that japanophile wave straight up. (Which explains why not Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura – they came too late, when Hello Kitty had already filled the exclusivity niche.)
But he also hit on some universals. By not limiting Hello Kitty to one personality, by reinventing her and making a thousand variations on her, he made her an icon of personal expression. By marketing to children he created a purity of brand emotion that made her universally desirable as an icon of simplicity and childhood. And there is always a lot of money in marketing to children in general, because they’re very vulnerable to consumerism when they’re in that pre-cognitive developmental state of just figuring out how to identify and match something they see on television or with their peers and then act upon by being the agent of its acquisition (by nagging parents or relatives).
I think if you combine all of those things you can see why Hello Kitty went super-big – but it’s not the kind of thing that can be reverse engineered for another product exactly. There is certainly a lot of luck involved, a lot of factors that lined up that you couldn’t reasonably predict.
– Erin Hoffman