|http://www.sina.com.cn 2003/03/04 12:52 《英语学习》|
Goofy<注1>, it is definitely not. Nor Mickey, or Donald. Not even Masters of the Universe dolls or Transformer robots<注2>. For most Asian children, the cartoon characters of choice these days have origins a long way from Hollywood. What we are talking about here are leggy teenage girls with elemental powers, multi-hued alien warriors, helpful robot cats and a quiet furry beast the size of a truck.<注3>
These creatures are the leading edge of an amazing invasion. In the past decade, they and other products of Japanese popular culture from comics to karaoke, sushi to sweets have become international favorites.<注4> Our greatest rival is Disney,?says the director of Toei<注5> Animation's international depart-ment. That is not an idle boast. His company produces Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z<注6>, two cartoon series that are sweeping the U.S. and Europe.
Japan's mass culture has long prevailed in East Asia. Japanese comics are ubiquitous on newsstands<注7> in Malaysia and Hong Kong,swhereshalf of all those sold are from Japan. Stores in remote areas of the Philippines stock snacks made by Tokyo's companies. And anyone can dial for sushi delivery in Singapore or sing in karaoke bars in distant Inner Mongolia. With the Japanese cartoon craze now lapping at American and European shores, it is time to ask: why is Japan's pop culture, especially its comics and cartoon characters, so appealing to Asians and, now, the world?
It's because they're high quality, that's all,?some people say. True, Japan has few peers in making stylishly produced comic books and animation.<注8> But Toei and similar companies have also built a massive promotion machine to marry that quality with market clout.<注9> Comic heroes in the 1950s became animated TV stars in the 1960s.
Soon after, media, comics, animation, publishing, toy and clothing companies joined forces to turn characterssintoscommercial smashes.<注10> For example, Sailor Moon, the hit schoolgirl superhero, has inspired TV shows, musicals and over 5,000 franchised<注11> products, including schoolbags, CDs, stickers<注12> and, of course, computer games one of the surest wayssintosa youngster's heart and a parent's wallet.
Characters do not have to begin on stands or the small screen all they need is a canny<注13> promoter. The well-known cat Hello Kitty, was created by merchandiser Sanrio as a logo for children's goods. Now, the feline phenomenon accounts for over a tenth of Sanrio's annual sales of million.<注14> In fact, the line between a cartoon and its commercial applications has become more and more invisible.
Perhaps what most entrances fans of all ages and from all regions about Japanese cartoons is their adolescent exuberance, their unique glorification of the dreams and imagery of youth.<注15>The most popular series, such as Sailor Moon and Doraemon<注16>, have children or teenagers as central characters. The world of these shows is painted in bubble-gum<注17> colors, while love and relationships take on the unserious character of teenage crushes. Futuristic sets and situations contribute to a suffused sense of innocent wonder.<注18>
And Japan's fascination with childlike things could be a reflection of the infantilism<注19> of postwar Japanese culture,?as an analyst put it. He suggests that the trauma of the postwar period may have encouraged Japanese to look at childhood with fondness. For youth it implies an evasion of responsibility, a major issue for a society still struggling with its vicious role in World War II. It is an interesting psychological view.
But there's still another more convincing and important reason. In a society with strict structures and high expectations, fantasies flourish. Children who spend long, stressful hours preparing for all-important school examinations take refuge in cheerfully fantastic characters and animations. That, coupled with the spending power of Japan's young a typical 10-year-old may have ,000 in the bank from doting relatives can explain the replete pre-adolescent orientation of Japan's pop culture.<注20>
Due to the worries about overwhelming exterior cultural aggression, some Asian governments have taken some measures to supervise or limit Japanese products. But the tide is unlikely to turn. Their attraction is too widespread and Japanese companies too market-savvy<注21>. Toei has started a marketing campaign in four cities in China. Even if only 10% of the population in this country get hooked on its products, Toei will make a market the size of Japan.
Indeed, Japan's ability to produce such creative whimsy<注22> despite a strictly orderly society may become even more relevant to Asian countries as they themselves try to balance intellectual ferment and social cohesion. As Asia catches up with Japan, one can bet that Japan's most popular export will continue to be its own mighty pop culture.
Japan Today: Top of the Po ps in Asia
2. Mickey, Donald, Masters of the Universe和Transformer均是风靡世界的美国卡通片中的卡通形象，分别是米老鼠、唐老鸭、太空超人、变形金刚。
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