Anime and Japanese culture

Members of the SFU Anime Club.| Photo courtesy of SFU Anime Club.

Members of the SFU Anime Club.| Photo courtesy of SFU Anime Club.

Animation has the ability to provide an experience that is simply impossible in reality. The expansion of Japanese culture around the world, and into Vancouver, was mainstreamed through anime and is described by SFU Anime Club executives, Stephanie Wu and Chris Baek, as “very open and versatile to anyone.”

The three main aspects of Japanese culture influencing the western world include Japanese pop music, food and animation.

“[Japanese pop culture] has brought a lot of cultures together,” says Wu.

Exchange of culture

Anime culture reveals new worlds, ideologies, and philosophies expanding the limits of creativity.

“J-pop is getting extremely popular. You see Caucasian artists incorporating Japanese culture in their music videos, such as Avril Lavigne,” says Wu.

In Vancouver, Japanese culture is expanding through food.

“There are sushi restaurants around every corner, on every street,” says Baek.

Japanese culture is widely celebrated in Vancouver: Powell Street Festival; Nikkei Matsuri (a cultural festival held by the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre); Sakura Days Japan Fair; SFU’s Summer Festival; and Anime Revolution.

Wu says the reason these festivals exist is because while their culture is spreading, people are also seeking it out.

“If Japanese culture didn’t influence us as much, these events couldn’t have happened. They couldn’t have happened if we didn’t reach into Japanese culture and discover more about it,” says Wu.

Animation can be more appealing

Baek says when computer graphics or computer-generated imagery (CGI) are integrated with real footage, such as in most movies and dramas, you can recognize the difference. The viewer gets an “awkward” feeling because you know it is false.

In animation, anything can happen.

“Animation, really, has no limit. Whoever draws the animations can direct whatever is going to happen,”says Baek.

Baek says his favourite genre of anime is ‘mecha’ anime, which is based on robots. A live action movie franchise he likes to watch is the Transformers series. Unfortunately, there are not many films like it because of its costly creation process.

While creating an animated show is also costly, it is inexpensive compared to filming stunts and explosions.

“Anime has no limits. There can be a plot about almost anything. There are many different types of stories,” says Wu. “You can live your fantasies through anime. Real-life shows can’t always give that.”

AniRevo in Vancouver

Curiosity or nostalgia brings fans out for the three-day Anime Revolution (AniRevo) held at the Vancouver Convention Centre (Aug. 5–7).

“A few years ago you only saw a few [anime] conventions. But now, in 2016, you have these big anime conventions,” says Wu. “It’s expanding to the point where people from the U.S. are actually coming to Canada to attend this anime event.”

With exhibits, panels, contests and performances, Anime Revolution offers a multitude of activities for anime fans to enjoy. Wu describes it as a place where the anime community can meet.

“It’s a public event where anyone that likes anime can go,” says Wu.

AniRevo wants to provide people of all ages with an entertaining event.

“It’s a place where everyone can meet and enjoy together,” states Baek.


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