Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Cultural Density of Kurage Hime

Books are one of the safest places to learn. Sure there is the non-fiction and the educational books that we are forced to read for whatever reason in school or at work, but that is not really what I am talking about. The whole emotional spectrum is wide open to readers no matter the subject or genre; the exhilaration of a high speed chase, a heartbreaking break-up, the first fluttering of a romance, heart-lifting victory. How do we deal with these feelings? How would we react if we were in their shoes?

When we read a text or watch a foreign film, we are confronted with the beliefs and learnings of another culture. The whole world has been taught American beliefs and American culture since Hollywood created a monopoly on the film industry. The cycle of globalization had been running on a very tight circle with not much being cycled back. 

Until Japan's soft power took equal footing.

Now anime is a million dollar industry and has spread it's power all over the world. JDramas are being imitated in Korea and KDramas are beginning to spread their wings in the US. A friend of mine was telling me that she had moved onto KDramas because she was tired of American ones going on forever. Truly proving that Japan is starting to, as Koibuchi says, change the center of globalization. 

When it comes to manga, I can honestly say that one of my favorite things about it is how you can me immersed in another countries expression of their culture. I went to a small college (less than 800 people) and had no Japanese culture classes to get me by. I watched a lot of anime and read a lot of manga and started noticing all the similarities I could. Learning what I could from my limited resources. When I moved to Japan and started learning Japanese, I read manga to get a better hand on conversational Japanese and to help with my kanji. 

There are certain mangaka that are unafraid to saturate their stories and characters with references and personalities that casual readers won't know or understand. They are like cultural homework with numerous translation notes about random nick-names for celebrities or slang. 

All of which Kurage Hime has in spades.