Overseas you can find people who love manga, anime, kawaii and otaku culture and sometimes lump them altogether because they are Japanese and are all represented at international anime and manga festivals. Takamasa Sakurai, editor for Tokyo Kawaii Magazine, wrote in Yomiuri Shimbun: In 2008 “I realized we are amid a world kawaii revolution; I heard girls in Europe talking about how they wanted to be Japanese, or that Japanese high school uniforms symbolize freedom. [Source: Takamasa Sakurai, Yomiuri Shimbun, April 29, 2011]
Young people overseas search for information every day by typing keywords such as anime, manga, kawaii, Tokyo, fashion and Harajuku. In doing so, they come upon websites with information on Lolita fashion, dojinshi, fashion brands and the way to find them. Foreign youth who grew up with anime have much in common with young Japanese people when it comes to pop culture. Both groups search the Internet for information on their interests, which are often similar. If two people with shared interests can directly communicate, they initiate a type of cultural exchange, which promotes more global exchange in general. [Source: Takamasa Sakurai, Daily Yomiuri, March 2012]
“Foreign fans of Japanese culture, in short, do not distinguish between the otaku hub of Akihabara and the street fashion hub of Harajuku, despite being quite different in the eyes of the Japanese. It is quite usual for foreigners to be interested in both Harajuku fashion and anime works such as The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Neon Genesis Evangelion . [Source: Takamasa Sakurai, Yomiuri Shimbun, April 29, 2011]
Young women I meet overseas often ask me to visit their homes because they want to show me all the Japanese stuff they have and how much they love this country. Their rooms are packed with Japanese clothing, jewelry, CDs and other products, but their computers, TVs and cell phones are all South Korean. The models on their screensavers are Japanese, the monitors they are on are South Korean. [Ibid]
The term "Galapagos" has recently been used in a largely negative context, referring to technology or business models that have developed uniquely in a limited environment. But this is the very uniqueness for which Japan is praised throughout the world. I think Japan should be making things only it can produce. [Ibid]
Takamasa Sakurai, an organizers of manga-anime events, wrote in the Daily Yomiuri: “What interested me most about manga-anime fans was that they said their ideal partner would be Japanese. In everyday life, they rarely interact with Japanese, so young people in Russia chat online with each other about Japan and Japanese people in the same way they talk about Japanese anime and idols.
When talking with young people from around the world, I'm often bewildered by their glamorization of not only Japan, but also Japanese people. If even I--with my many opportunities to interact with these "Japan admirers"--am overwhelmed by the trend, then Japanese people who have never heard about it before are even more shocked. I'm often asked to talk about the question: "Are Japanese people popular overseas?" when I appear on Japanese TV or radio.
"If I can go to Japan, I'd like to gaze at men walking by on the street at a cafe in [Tokyo's] Harajuku for a whole day," a Croatian female college student told me. When I asked another female college student I met in Mexico if she was interested in going out with a Japanese boy, she replied, "Not worth asking. [Of course!]"
Manga Big Bang® is UK’s original manga magazine featuring multiple manga comic series and one-shot manga comics. You can follow the Manga Big Bang! manga series by becoming our patron on our Patreon page. Click on the Manga Big Bang! logo: