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Thread: Japan, manga-isolationist ?

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Japan, manga-isolationist ?

    It's a long time I wanted to write this thread.

    I grew up with anime series on TV like the children of my generation. But what we watched on TV depend on the country where we grew up. As a child I didn't know where each anime came from, and didn't care anyway. Of course, some were obviously Japanese (Astro Boy, Lamu, Doraemon...), others obviously American (Duck Tales, Looney Tunes...), and others obviously Belgian (Lucky Luke, Tintin, the Smurfs...).

    When comparing our childhood anime with my wife or Japanese friends, I noticed that there were quite a lot of them that they didn't know, while I knew most of the ones they knew. So I checked where they all came from, and found out, not surprisingly, that all the ones they didn't know were not Japanese, or only partly Japanese. Here are the animes both I and they knew (regardless of personal preferences )

    Astro Boy
    Uchû kaizoku Captain Harlock (aka Capitaine Albator)
    Galaxy Express 999
    Lupin III
    Saint Seiya
    Dragon Ball
    Hokuto no Ken
    Urusei yatsura (aka Lamu)
    Kimengumi
    Maison Ikkoku
    Doraemon
    Ranma 1/2

    These are all Japanese. Add to this the Disney and Looney Tunes productions from the US.

    Here are the ones they didn't know, with the country of origin :

    UFO Robot Grendizer (aka Goldorak) => Japan
    Captain Future => France-Germany-Japan, based on US comics
    Transformers => USA-Japan
    GI Joe => USA
    Tom Sawyer => USA
    Scooby Doo => USA
    He-man => USA
    The Care Bears (aka "Bisounours") => USA
    Inspector Gadget => USA-Canada-France
    Les Mondes Engloutis => France
    Il etait une fois... => France
    Les Mysterieuses Citees d'or (Taiyounoko Esteban) => France-Luxembourg-Japan
    Ulysse 31 => France-Japan
    Lucky Luke => France-USA, based on a Belgian comic


    Here are some they knew, but had never watched them on TV (because it didn't show on TV) :

    The Real Ghostbusters => USA
    The Smurfs => USA, based on a Belgian comic
    Tintin => Belgium

    So it seems that European and American animations are not shown on Japanese TV. The manga-anime industry is a big industry in Japan, and I suspect that the Japanese government has been protectionist about it, like most other big Japanese industries (cars, electronics...). I was quite amazed for instance that so many Japanese didn't know companies like Philips, Siemens, Bosch or Motorola. No wonder, apart from electric toothbrush, I haven't seen Philips products (TV, Hifi, light bulbs, PC accessories, medical equipement...) in Japan. Likewise all the brands of mobile phones in Japan are Japanese (so no Siemens, Motorola or Nokia). The funny thing is that I have seen a lot of Korean electronics in Japan (Samsung, LG, Daewoo), but virtually nothing from Western countries. That's maybe why the Japanese are suprised when we tell them that we know so many Japanese things since our childhood, from anime to electronics to martial arts to Kurosawa movies... The reverse is NOT true ! (apart from brand clothes and luxury cars, because there is little competition).
    Last edited by Maciamo; Jan 10, 2006 at 19:24.

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  2. #2
    TAN Hiroyuki Nagashima's Avatar
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    Nice joke !!

  3. #3
    dead loss. yup, thats me! yakutatazu's Avatar
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    Yes, one can considder this for a very long time.
    But I think it may not be the japanese government being protectionist, but there simply being a lot of (quality) japanese products (this also applies to the anime's), thus there will not be a need for western products that are the same.

    I must admit I am suprised about there not being much of a Phillips market. They produce very high quality stuff.
    Like their new foldable screens they'll be launching sometime during the following years.

    They ought to be broadcasting smurfs though. Really, that should be part of everybody's upbringing as it was in mine.

  4. #4
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yakutatazu
    I must admit I am suprised about there not being much of a Phillips market. They produce very high quality stuff.
    Like their new foldable screens they'll be launching sometime during the following years.
    Exactly. Besides, Philips is the world's biggest manufacturer of TV's and monitors. Let us not forget the German company Siemens, which is simply the world's biggest maker of electric and electronic products. Never seen the brand Siemens in Japan...

  5. #5
    TAN Hiroyuki Nagashima's Avatar
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    The Japanese government has not offered support of anime/manga.
    The fan of anime/manga of Japan enlarged anime/manga industry.
    What is the superior product which Maciamo-san recommends?
    Besides a Japanese product
    Please teach it.

  6. #6
    Horizon Rider Kinsao's Avatar
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    Well, it's about more than just manga/anime, isn't it? (as you say, other products too)
    I guess it's natural for the government to be protectionist, they try and protect the country's own economy. Maybe feeling threatened by some foreign products.
    Perhaps it is a question of confidence?
    I think this will change, but slowly.

  7. #7
    tsuyaku o tsukete kudasai nurizeko's Avatar
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    Is japan manga-isolationist?.....of course, duh.
    Japanese media produced in Japan is for domestic consumption by the JAPANESE.
    It is like british soap operahs and comedy, its nice if it makes it big abroad but its made mainly for british audiences in britain.
    Few shows make it as international hits, and thats usually un-intentional, the simpsons is popular all over the world, but it was really only meant for america.
    Western anime and manga fans are always wishing japan would embrace them and export their media just for them but, its simply not going to happen, the reason they love anime and manga is because of its own unique merits....merits which would soon disolve if it was being made with foreign audiences in mind.
    So yeah, its isolationist, if by isolationist you mean produced for domestic audiences, but it isnt the only country guilty of this crime, if more of the world spoke japanese it probably would, but its just one country with this unique culture and language and so thats where its made for.


    Is panasonic japanese? what about the seven 7 chainstores?, or cocacola and pepsi (cocacola even produce ryal milk tea, wish they sold it in the uk along with their vending machines) theres mcdonalds, KFC, dennys, starbucks, hershey candy, i wouldnt say japan is THAT protectionist, western cosmetics and clothing brands, it is true theres a lack of western electronics but maybe its just because the japanese feel home-grown in that particular sector of the economy is superior to the foreign stuff.

    Though i did see a dyson hoover, weeeeee national pride.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kinsao
    Well, it's about more than just manga/anime, isn't it? (as you say, other products too)
    I guess it's natural for the government to be protectionist, they try and protect the country's own economy. Maybe feeling threatened by some foreign products.
    Perhaps it is a question of confidence?
    I think this will change, but slowly.
    Just branding strategy. And localising strategy, too.
    1. Dyson introduces tatami friendly cleaner here.
    2. Seven Eleven Japan in PRC, you can find hot bento boxes cooked in stores.
    If everybody would be winners in business, I cannot expect any salary raise.

    What if everybody would choose your favorite anime/J-rock band? Would you be still loyal to them?

  9. #9
    Horizon Rider Kinsao's Avatar
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    Well, of course, if people in Japan find the products made in Japan to be good, there is no reason for them to buy the products from elsewhere.
    And yeah, people will stick with what they like, if they already know it to be good.
    I guess I meant, that is there's something western-made, and it has better performance than a similar product made in Japan, eventually people will buy that... and of course the Japanese firms will try and improve their product to compete, too... People might be more slow to buy the foreign product at first, out of a loyalty to the brand they already prefer, but if it really is good, I think people would buy...

    It's like if you want to take the music analogy you made, I listen to an English band and I like them... it takes me many more years to listen to a Japanese band because the foreign music doesn't come so easily to the country. And when I know of them both, I can choose which I prefer... I can support the English band out of a loyalty to my country. but eventually, I'll only buy their CDs if I find them to be good. (Actually, music isn't such a good analogy because you can have both as it's not too expensive... but you see what I mean... I hope... )

  10. #10
    ƒKƒCƒWƒ“–şB doinkies's Avatar
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    Probably the most familiar American animation to a Japanese person would be:

    A. Disney movies
    B. Tom and Jerry.

    If you go to oricon.co.jp and look at their rankings for DVDs of animated films/TV shows/etc, you will probably see a lot of Disney movies in those rankings, or collections of Tom and Jerry shorts.

    For that matter, in the past, many American cartoons aired on Japanese broadcast TV, including Scooby-Doo (but the Japanese title of Scooby-Doo is 弱虫(よわむし)クルッパー). He-Man was never broadcast on Japanese TV, though...GI Joe and Transformers were aired in the 80s, and Rainbow Brite aired on a cable station.

    Nowadays most Western cartoons air on cable stations in Japan, though there are some exceptions.

    But yeah, I agree with nurizeko.
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  11. #11
    Regular Member KrazyKat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kinsao
    I guess it's natural for the government to be protectionist, they try and protect the country's own economy. Maybe feeling threatened by some foreign products.
    Perhaps it is a question of confidence?
    I think this will change, but slowly.
    Actually protectionist policies are generally considered to be damaging to most economies, especially developed ones like Japan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparative_advantage



    I think I read in a textbook somewhere that the reason western companies have fared so badly in japan is not beacause of stong protectionist policies but becasue Western companies have failed to properly provide products the japanese want and market them efficintly, or something like that.

    Following on with this idea, the reason Western anime is not shown in Japan may just be that it wouldn't be as sucsessful in japan as in the West so other shows take priotiy on TV. For example the british show 'the office' was completely remade for American TV, the diference in Japanese tastes would likely be even greater.

  12. #12
    puzzled gaijin
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    I think I read in a textbook somewhere that the reason western companies have fared so badly in japan is not beacause of stong protectionist policies but becasue Western companies have failed to properly provide products the japanese want and market them efficintly, or something like that.


    There are several problems with this arguement. One is that you are assuming that most Japanese markets are open, they are not. Japan has a long history of protecting certain markets with high duties and unrealistic precautions (don't worry, the beef industry I believe is not really one that is protected, that one is more of a dispute about inspection procedures that were already agreed upon). If we look at the rice market, Japanese consumers pay 12x the price in the US. Why, ask the LDP whose rural voters get 4 votes versus the same voters who live in the city. The Japanese farmers need those subsidies, the LDP needs their votes (whether you want to get into national self sufficency food raising arguements is a whole other story).

    Other markets, such as some of the related electronics markets is that the manufacturers often want a separate Japanese standard as opposed to an international standard (hence why Nokia, the leading Finnish company, 1# internationally, is almost unknown in Japan. Until the last few years, you couldn't use a non-Japanese cellphone in Japan). The Japanese pharmaceutical companies have been trying to resist foreign company invasions, with government help, with the top Japanese pharmaceutical companies being dwarfed in size by their foreign competitors, hence being unable to compete if the playing fields were leveled (try buying aspirin here to get an idea). We have already seen what has happened to part of the deregulated banking and insurance industries with some foreign successes and flops. These were previously closed industries. Be interesting to see when the construction industry is opened up.

    Of course, nowadays more and more Japanese companies are slowly moving away from just domestic domination, with Japanese cars being practically manufactured stateside in the US. But overall, it is not just a question of foreign products being redeseigned to suit the Japanese market, it is trying to not overcharge Japanese consumers to support Japanese firms' subsidized export market. Look what happened to whiskey and wine prices over the past 10 years (good thing too, I was tired of the overinflated prices, still waiting for foreign beer to drop though)?!

    Of course, every government protects domestic markets, but the Japanese markets are some of the most protected for various products (especially for asuch a developed country).

  13. #13
    TAN Hiroyuki Nagashima's Avatar
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    I cannot understand the opinion that Japan is protectionism.
    In Japan, many of necessaries are imports.
    A Japanese consumer does not want a cheap thing.
    I want a safe and quality thing.

  14. #14
    Wanderer Mamoru-kun's Avatar
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    I'd like to react on the fact that "people would buy best quality products if they could find and buy them" as stated above. Just a personal example: I've all my life used PC for gaming -and- working. Actually, my Windows satisfy me for my all-the-days' works (mailing, writing, managing,...). Having tested the last Mac's performances, I'm not afraid to say that it is more user-friendly, stable, and secure than my Windows, and for perhaps less bucks...Anyway, here there is a "better" (own point of view) product available, but even if I had the money to change, I wouldn't. It's not a question of protectionism or confidence, nor loyalty. Just that I linked that particular product with my way of life (being a good fact or not), and unless there is something one day I cannot do anymore with Windows, I don't think that I will switch easily.
    Wouldn't it be also a reason why Japanese people don't switch easily, and so lower the import needs?
    Last edited by Mamoru-kun; Feb 16, 2006 at 22:15.

  15. #15
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    Japanese don't have access to good quality comics because the market is controlled and Japan IS isolated so they (poor things) don't get the exposure to good things like Enki Bilal, Tex Avery, Vuillmain etc etc ect
    But certainly the Japanese "manga' artists have seen and copied these techniques from great European and USA artists. Think about it.

  16. #16
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    Yeah Japan imports what it wants (in small quantities) Cheese a few Marvel comics but not much in fact everything must be found in "Specialist"....read 'otaku" shops!
    but definitely nothing which might harm the things to be exported

  17. #17
    Horizon Rider Kinsao's Avatar
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    Well, I guess it's the same the other way around, too. It's not so easy to get hold of manga here. But it becomes easier now manga got more popular. Maybe the same thing happens to European comics in Japan?

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