Men of the 21st century are no more a stereotypical version of the strong-and-silent type. They are more capable of showing their emotions and don’t shy away from relationships and their outcomes. Most importantly, they’re not wary of their choices. Men don’t bind themselves with societal norms of age, but are open to express their interests and likes.
The Japanese influence of Anime (Japanese term for animation) and Manga (Japanese term for comics) have catapulted into a craze in men all over the world since back in the 90s itself. The openness about gender and sexuality in anime and manga stories (think about Ranma1/2 and Futaba-kun Change) offered a platform for the ones fed up with the decisive roleplay of society.
Yes, men are quite influenced by anime and manga of Japan and the following are a few compelling reasons for this:
1. Stories That Liberate
Believe it or not, a whole world exists beyond American Superheroes. Going afar from the typical portrayal of men who’re macho in every situation, who look godly and have girls falling in their arms, Japanese anime and manga portray the more realistic man. He cries, gets weak, falls, and tries hard to get back up in a more relatable manner.
While each of us seek ‘diamond-in-the-rough’ kind of stories, Japanese anime and manga aren’t afraid to extend its genre to an extent where the storyline becomes more universal and current. Whether it is Futaba-kun Change, where the male character turns into a woman every time he gets excited, or Urbance that showcases a dystopian love story full of sex, drugs, and violence, Japanese anime and manga break the stereotype and give all a reason to think beyond rubrics.
Japanese stories relate more to modern men, which is another big reason for their popularity. Their hero is typically a man trying hard to be himself. He is at peace with his complexes and wants to better himself. However, most anime and manga stories have heroes rescuing damsels in distress, without being unrealistic. They have their fair share of downfalls and are often supported by female characters who are more than just twinkle-eyed beauties. Usually, manga portrays male characters as strong, but female characters too are smarter and stable, with the hero depending on the heroine for making the right decisions.
2. Inundating the Sexual Side
Japanese anime and manga are not afraid to explore every aspect of male chauvinism, including sexuality. The prominent Japanese culture has men losing themselves into jobs and women being conservative about sex and relationships. Therefore, sexual pleasures are looked more as stress busters. The popularity of body pillows like the dakimakura pillow is at an all-time high and people are buying, reading and selling sexually explicit content openly. This offers a glimpse into the open mind-set of the Japanese audience towards sexual content.
It’s no secret that men find women’s cartoon sexy, and with Japanese cartoonists and graphic designers depicting women’s features gorgeously, no wonder men are attracted towards female characters in anime and manga. There’s a growing pervasiveness in almost all themes of manga. Female nudity was always a common sight even in children’s manga, and over the years, male nudity too is gaining ground. In a subtle context, homosexuality is also a fascination that is now being openly explored.
3. Visual Spectacle
The most distinguishing aspects of Japanese anime and manga are its distinct graphics and drawings. Whether it is the innocence of Goku (Dragon Ball Z) or the twisted intentions of Light Yagami (Death Note), the cartoon characters are visually appealing and extremely relatable. Think of Edward Elric and one can instantly identify with the unapologetic eccentric state alchemist who’s always ready to push limits. These characters are a part of the lives of their fans. A lot of credit goes to the realistic depiction of their emotions through the spectacular visuals.
Most anime and manga are long series of episodes that followers can relate with over time with the help of distinct illustrations and the subsequent impact. The ingenuity of these characters is ideally displayed through graphics and readers/viewers are able to grasp their influence. The expressions, body language, and features together give the characters an idiosyncratic appeal. Even if we compare anime with the cartoons in the West, they are very different forms of illustrated visual art. The segregated features of anime characters with bigger eyes and smaller mouths are predominant features of Japanese animation and have a worldwide appeal.
While every anime and manga fan has a reason to love it, the essence of anime’s and manga’s popularity lies in their storytelling and the indisputably great visuals. Men do identify with the dreamy and realistic characters. Further, it gives them a reason to get away from their routine life and enjoy a fanciful time of imagination, otherwise non-existent.
Photo Credit: Pixabay/willianfujii