Thursday, January 12, 2006

Anime, Spiritual Seekers, & Cultural Consumption

My Australian friend and colleague, Philip Johnson, recently made me aware of an article that touches on an aspect of the interrelationship between religion and culture in the area of Japanese animation, known as anime. I have not seen the article yet, but hope to track it down in the near future. I had an opportunity to do some research for a series of presentations at Cornerstone Festival a couple of years ago on anime as an influence on gaming cards such as Yu-Gi-Oh!, and I have been interested in the religious influences from Japanese culture on anime, and its cross-cultural signficance.

Jin Kyu Park, "Creating My Own Cultural and Spiritual Bubble": Case of Cultural Consumption by Spiritual Seeker Anime Fans, Culture and Religion, Vol. 6, no. 3 (November 2005): 393-413.

"The distinctive quality of Japanese animation (anime) in its descriptions of religious and spiritual realms - integrating symbols, themes, doctrines, and mythologies from various religious traditions - is a cultural manifestation of the new integrative spirituality. This article demonstrates how important the religious aspect of anime is in explaining why younger generations in the USA, who are characterized as a spiritual seekers, become a loyal fan of the cultural aspects. Anime seems to provide them with a cultural resource out of which they create their own cultural and spiritual practices, which is, they claim, not provided by the US mainstream culture. This article argues that since the religious aspect of anime is one of the most disctinctive qualities in distinguishing itself from US pop culture, it would contribute to the generally accepted 'cultural difference' account in explaining the cross-cultural popularity of anime."

A version of this paper, presented at The Intercultural Communications Association in 2003 is available for review on the web.

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