Presentation Title

Robots, Gangsters, and Pocket Monsters: The Cultural Integration of Anime in America

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Location

Watkins 2240

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Abstract

History

Robots, Gangsters, and Pocket Monsters: The Cultural Integration of Anime in America

Author: Johnny Vilay, California State Polytechnic University Pomona

Mentor: Rob Lewis, History Department, California State Polytechnic University Pomona

The modern American anime industry is a multibillion-dollar business that encapsulates a wide market and attracts a mass audience. Much of the scholarly work done so far about the anime industry has largely emphasized its later stages, often starting with the Pokémon global phenomenon in the late 1990s. My research paper, in contrast, will examine the industry’s earlier history, particularly the 1980s and early 1990s, to highlight the significance of two key anime productions, the 1984 television series Robotech and the 1988 film Akira, and shed light on the cultural mediators whose efforts were crucial in bringing these works into the American consciousness. Drawing on first-hand interviews with key individuals who have played a critical role in the American distribution of these works, this paper seeks to provide an understanding of the popularization of anime in the United States. It argues that Robotech and Akira not only assisted in creating a broader audience for animation, but also facilitated the creation of a new consumer subculture that gave rise to various fandoms and conventions. In the broader context, the paper suggests that both Robotech and Akira played a part in creating a more positive outlook on Japanese goods and helped trigger an ongoing process of globalization revolving around consumer culture.

Keywords: anime, animation, industry, subculture, cultural mediators, Robotech¸ Akira, Pokémon, distribution, globalization

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Nov 12th, 3:15 PM Nov 12th, 3:30 PM

Robots, Gangsters, and Pocket Monsters: The Cultural Integration of Anime in America

Watkins 2240

History

Robots, Gangsters, and Pocket Monsters: The Cultural Integration of Anime in America

Author: Johnny Vilay, California State Polytechnic University Pomona

Mentor: Rob Lewis, History Department, California State Polytechnic University Pomona

The modern American anime industry is a multibillion-dollar business that encapsulates a wide market and attracts a mass audience. Much of the scholarly work done so far about the anime industry has largely emphasized its later stages, often starting with the Pokémon global phenomenon in the late 1990s. My research paper, in contrast, will examine the industry’s earlier history, particularly the 1980s and early 1990s, to highlight the significance of two key anime productions, the 1984 television series Robotech and the 1988 film Akira, and shed light on the cultural mediators whose efforts were crucial in bringing these works into the American consciousness. Drawing on first-hand interviews with key individuals who have played a critical role in the American distribution of these works, this paper seeks to provide an understanding of the popularization of anime in the United States. It argues that Robotech and Akira not only assisted in creating a broader audience for animation, but also facilitated the creation of a new consumer subculture that gave rise to various fandoms and conventions. In the broader context, the paper suggests that both Robotech and Akira played a part in creating a more positive outlook on Japanese goods and helped trigger an ongoing process of globalization revolving around consumer culture.

Keywords: anime, animation, industry, subculture, cultural mediators, Robotech¸ Akira, Pokémon, distribution, globalization