Anime's Media Mix: Franchising Toys and Characters in Japan by Marc Steinberg

By Marc Steinberg

Untangles the net of commodity, capitalism, and artwork that's anime

In Anime's Media combine, Marc Steinberg convincingly indicates that anime is much greater than a mode of jap animation. past its instant type of cartooning, anime is usually a distinct mode of cultural construction and intake that resulted in the phenomenon that's at the present time known as "media mix" in Japan and "convergence" within the West.

According to Steinberg, either anime and the media combine have been ignited on January 1, 1963, while Astro Boy hit jap television displays for the 1st time. backed by means of a chocolate producer with savvy advertising abilities, Astro Boy fast turned a cultural icon in Japan. He was once the poster boy (or, in his case, "sticker boy") either for Meiji Seika's goodies and for what may ensue while a goggle-eyed comic strip baby fell into the keen clutches of inventive agents. It was once just a brief step, Steinberg makes transparent, from Astro Boy to Pokémon and beyond.

Steinberg strains the cultural family tree that spawned Astro Boy to the variations of jap media tradition that followed—and ahead to the much more profound advancements in worldwide capitalism supported by way of the move of characters like Doraemon, hi Kitty, and Suzumiya Haruhi. He information how convergence used to be sparked by way of anime, with its astoundingly extensive advertising of pictures and its franchising throughout media and commodities. He additionally explains, for the 1st time, how the increase of anime can't be understood properly—historically, economically, and culturally—without greedy the necessary function that the media combine performed from the beginning. attractive with movie, animation, and media stories, in addition to analyses of customer tradition and theories of capitalism, Steinberg bargains the 1st sustained research of the japanese mode of convergence that informs worldwide media practices to this present day.

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71 Given its status as a low and even threatening art form, it is not surprising that television’s critics would use it to attack this new medium. ”72 Chun finds that one of the earliest appearances of this phrase was in a 1957 edition of Shūkan Tokyo, where Ōya wrote, “Everyday on television there is an array of vulgar programs worse than storyboard shows [kamishibai]. ”73 The comparison between kamishibai and television was not merely a way to disparage the new medium of television, however.

The combination of lively argument on the sound track and the alternation of images of the robbers at the bank with entirely black interludes gives this scene a stop-and-go quality reminiscent of kamishibai. Another sequence directly inspired by kamishibai is found in the sixth episode of the anime series, “Dentō ningen no maki” (The Electric Man Episode). Here, in a flashback sequence lasting half a minute, Doctor Ochanomizu’s narration of a past event accompanies an “illustration” of the past event based entirely on still images.

Tsuka Yasuo from Toei referred to the movement style of limited TV animation as “kamishibai plus alpha”; Sakamoto Yūsaku, the animator in charge of Mushi Productions Studio and the Atomu project, conceived of Atomu as “electric kamishibai”; Tezuka saw kamishibai as the limit of animation. But what is kamishibai, and why is it referenced so frequently in early accounts of anime? Literally translated as “paper theater,” kamishibai is a form of popular entertainment for children that had its first peak of popularity in the early 1930s and its second and final boom in the early postwar period, beginning its decline in the late 1950s.

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