"Aesthetics in Transition: What Europe can tell us on the transnational appeal of Japanese animation"

Presented By: Marco Pellitteri, Shanghai International Studies University

After a brief account of the success of Japanese animation in several regional contexts, this paper discusses the sociological reasons and the structural stages of such success in the European region in relation to the changes in the consumption models of narrative media from the 1970s to nowadays. In terms of media flows and consumption, an underlying theory is that the first success of anime and manga outside of Japan was due to their arrival in foreign markets in an age dominated by specific models of media consumption: the crisis of such success, which occurred at later stages, was due to a change in how media are used and consumed; moreover, we currently observe a further ‘normalisation’ of anime and manga’s cultural and commercial impact. In terms of fascination with animeamong foreign audiences, the paper focuses on both the universal and the particular, deeply Japan-related aspects of anime’s imagery, contents, and morals. It argues that a notion has been circulated in much scholarship as well as among Japanese government agencies according to which anime’s popularity is mainly or solely due to their being ‘cool’, whereas recent research shows that it is elsewhere—namely, in the emotional features of anime’s narratives rather than in the, however spectacular, visual aspects—that the audience’s affection for anime is to be identified and analysed. The paper is informed by multidisciplinary framework: media studies, CCI (cultural and creative industries) studies, international flows of cultural products, surveys and in-depth interviews among fans of different ages, interviews to publishers and TV producers.