“Emergence of Anime in the Philippines” Anime is considered as a social phenomenon in the Philippines as its history traces back to the late 70s, already taking part in the Philippine local mainstream. It continues to influence and gather anime fans together with its unique storylines and creative animation styles, forming communities that help spread anime throughout the country. Anime as a word has entered the common lingo of the Filipino youth and could also serve as a description of a person’s look and overall get-up (Bravo, 2012). Scholars have also discussed anime’s ascension to universal popularity in terms of its apparent reverberations in the economic, cultural, and even psychological, sociological and political spheres (Napier, 2005). It has clearly earned a place in the Filipino popular consciousness and lifestyles.
Anime has extended its culture, flaunting its Japanese origins to the Philippines in various ways for a long period of time. It is after all worth taking note that key Japanese government officials expressed their recognition of anime and other pop culture products and their potential tapping for cultural diplomacy – serving as bridges of cultural understanding and cooperation in the Asia Pacific Region, among other things (Bravo, 2012). The otaku culture isn’t new; it’s actually been ingrained in Philippines society (Ignacio, 2015). An example of the otaku culture is the cosplaying. Cosplaying was introduced by Anime Explosion in the Philippines in 2000 which is annually held at SM Megamall. This has remained to be part of the otaku culture, cosplaying soon to be two decades in the Philippines in 2020. · Before K-pop burst into the scene, fangirls were already squealing over J-rock and J-pop idol groups (Ignacio, 2015). Famous boy bands such as Arashi, and One OK Rock were brought into the scene of rock, and still remain to be admired by Filipino fangirls. There are also Japanese music festivals held in the Philippines such as the Tokyo-Manila Jazz Music and Arts Festival. A range of anime food helps viewers discover Japanese food culture and love for ingredients (Moorthy, 2018). Most anime movies and series definitely involve the characters’ love for food. This helped spark curiosity of the Filipinos as to what these delicious cuisines taste like. Some of the popular Japanese cuisines among Filipinos are ramen, takoyaki, and sushi.
For the most of the last three decades, anime has been present in Asian countries whether as part of television programming or simply as an element of youthful preoccupation (Bravo, 2012). Anime was first brought into the Philippines in the late 1970s, during the time of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. This only proves that anime has long been the Filipino’s source of entertainment. · Most Filipinos who have been around during that time still remember how former President Ferdinand Marcos prohibited showing of the first few anime series in the late 70s (Bravo, 2012). Voltes V, one of the first anime series to have been introduced in the country, was prohibited by Marcos as its plot focused on rebels fighting for liberation against a dictator. This became a threat to him. Knowing that the Filipinos were responsive to this, he banned the first few anime series such as Voltes V, Lupin III, and Mazinger Z at the time of Martial Law, fearing that people would get inspiration from it and spark a revolution. Most of the anime titles were shown in English, and quite a number were in fact acquired from the United States (Bravo, 2012). The Philippines adapted the American titles of the anime series shown back then, also having been dubbed in English. Japanese cultural references, opening and ending theme songs dubbed in English were mostly cut out; therefore, Filipinos were unaware that what they were watching were Japanese, mistaking anime for one of the American cartoons. · Anime became one of the many foreign series that were acquired to fill in airing time (Bravo, 2012). In the early 80s, most of TV networks were still underdeveloped, relying on anime and other international programs and very little from locally-produced programs for cost-effectiveness.
Since anime’s rise in the Philippines, it is without a doubt that its emergence has had significant impact on the Philippine economy. The Philippines’ position in the Pacific Ocean so near Asia has allowed them many opportunities for trade and correspondence with other nations (Stevens, 1999). Anime stores such as the famous Comic Alley has also contributed to the economy of the Philippines. Starting from one kiosk, the Comic Alley has now grown into 22 branches nationwide and still growing (Liporada, 2012). Anime collectibles from posters to costumes are all found in Comic Alley, therefore becoming the #1 anime store in the Philippines. The ratification of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement signifies the deepening of this interweaving of the relationship between economics and culture (Bravo, 2012). Because of the economic needs of the Filipinos, the JPEPA agreed that this paved the way for Japan to create opportunities to promote their language and culture. In relation to this, it is also notable that the reasons behind the students’ eagerness to learn about Japan are more or less related to Japan’s better economic standing relative to the Philippines. The Philippines is becoming a force in outsourcing for game developers and animation studios. A bevy of Philippine outsourcing companies is thriving by serving global giants in the game and animation industries (Manabu, 2016). The strong economic growth of the Philippines has been driven by outsourcing businesses. Outsourcers in collaboration with animators boosted about one-tenth the sales made by the Japanese anime industry, increasing $153 million in sales in 2015. Nonetheless, the sales of Philippine companies remain to rise.
The emergence of anime in the Philippines has led to evident influence towards the Filipino community, prompting relationships among people of the same interest, and bringing change to local programs. After all, how one culture adopts another can have influence over how those two cultures interact. On a more micro level, this means that interactions between people may be altered by whether or not one or both people have been touched by the same outside culture (Rawlins, 2014). · Influential to the eventual acceptance of anime in the US is the fandom subculture where anime fans banded together to form clubs and organizations devoted to its appreciation (Bravo, 2012). Anime Explosion introduced cosplay to the Philippines in 2000 wherein anime fans dress as their chosen or favorite anime character, which formed the first convention that was solely dedicated to anime, gathering the enthusiasts of the said art form. Included in conventions are cosplay contests and giveaways of merchandise such as otaku magazines. New anime interest groups are created out of groups of volunteers and cosplayers in most events and conventions. The democratization of internet use also played its part by guaranteeing that information not only about anime, but activities related to it are easily and widely disseminated (Bravo, 2012). For instance, GMA 7 launched a website, namely WeAreAnime. com, in 2000 wherein not only updates regarding anime programs and activities were posted, but there were also chat rooms where fans could communicate with each other and share their fondness for anime, the website serving as a connection among anime communities. · Anime has consistently been shown in most Philippines TV Channels and has become a source of inspiration for local program concepts (Bravo, 2012). ABS CBN 2’s Super Inggo and GMA 7’s Super Twins are some of the Filipino fantaseryes – a genre in Philippine television that mixes drama and fantasy together – that had been heavily influenced by anime in terms of its elements such as hairstyles, costumes, and weaponry. Although the Filipino characters remain to be Filipino in style, it is evident that the concepts or themes took inspiration from anime.
Anime is oftentimes seen as a simple source of entertainment; however, it brings about significant effects on the psychological well-being of anime viewers. After watching an anime, you will always be looking at the real world with that viewpoint wondering about the implications of the plot in the anime unfolding in the real world (Somal, 2015). The characters in the anime can become symbols for some people, and in the anime there are so many different types of characters that it becomes easy to find one with which one can identify (Okuhara. 2009). Unlike Western cartoons, anime presents real life struggles as they are wherein characters – both protagonist and antagonist – face their own trials with the help of friends along the way. Despite downfalls, the characters keep their optimistic stance. In this way, as the audience can relate and identify themselves with the characters, anime influences their way of coping with their own troubles. Anime highlight to the audience that it is different from reality; that anime can be seen as part of “fantasy cape” (Napier, 2005). As genres of anime vary with their uniqueness and relatability, the audience gets sucked into it. It is normal for people to escape reality through means of entertainment; however, being too engrossed in the thought of leaving everything behind can lead the person watching to mistake the anime world for the real world. For example, serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki was heavily influenced by violent films, therefore resulting to his killing of little of girls, also having been engaged in cannibalism. Watching anime can help increase social interaction among viewers. It especially increases the social interaction of viewers who tend to be shy in nature (Gaylican, 2013). There is a significant amount of impact on one’s personality when it comes to shared interests. As stated above, anime influences people who tend to be shy in nature to mingle with other people, therefore creating a sense of belongingness and a change in nature as they feel that sharing the same interests unifies them, forming relationships through social events such as convents.
Anime has been a source of inspiration for many places here in the Philippines. · Japanese cuisines have found its way to the Philippines, especially in major cities such as Manila and Cebu city as Japanese restaurants can be found almost anywhere. Take for example the Ichiba Japanese Market in Resorts World Manila. Ichiba seeks to recreate what it feels like to be at the likes of Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market (Abad, 2016). · Anime-inspired cafés have also been established for the enjoyment of anime fans. MeiDoll Café claims to be the very first maid café in the Philippines where all the café attendants are in cosplay get-ups when serving customers (Tonson, 2011). Anime-inspired cafés such as this can be located in different cities, most especially around Metro Manila.
Anime has also been beneficial to anime viewers in the Philippines, influencing them into learning the Japanese language. Prior studies have confirmed that there is apparent connection between interest in Japanese animation (anime) and interest in learning Japanese language (Abe, 2009; Fukunaga, 2006; Manion, 2005; William, 2006). · Recently, Japanese Animation and popular culture has been popular with the youth, thus the increase of students and the widening of the range of Japanese courses offered in the Philippines (Bravo, 2012). Through interviews, Annie Manion gathered information on the reason behind the desire of college students to learn the Japanese language, whereas majority of them answered that they became interested in Japanese linguistics after becoming fans of anime. This only proves that anime plays a huge part in influencing their decisions, and spreading awareness on Japanese language and culture. The Filipino Department of Education started offering the Japanese language and culture program to high school students in 2009 (Calunsod, 2017). 3,000 students enrolled in the Japanese program are mostly avid fans of Anime. Students first enrolled in Japanese programs for the sake of wanting to watch anime without the subtitles, but later on realized that this can be an opportunity to find a career in Japan. By using materials in which students are already interested, language teachers can expect that students will enhance and improve their language competencies (Turner, 2013). Usage of various interactive activities derived from anime can help increase class participation in schools and can result to the learning improvement of the students. Through this teaching method, students are proved to become more focused as anime interests them, increasing their level of language competency.
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