The Story That Merges Cultures

How a Story Brings Cultures Together

A couple years ago, I would’ve told you I was a closeted anime fanatic afraid to express his ideas to the outside world. Afraid of being called out for being “out of the norm,” and trying something different. It was childish, and I was a kid cut me a break.

But that was a couple years ago. My peers weren’t mature college students and adults, like they are now. Everyone is a lot more open about their hobbies, some without shame. It makes you more comfortable talking about what you like. I had no problem sharing anything I found to my friends as I began to take a particular interest in anime/manga, particularly when it came to my writing.

For those unaware with the terms, a manga is a Japanese paperback comic drawn in black-and-white. Also, it’s read backwards. Like literally, backwards. Check it out sometimes. I enjoy their stories more often than not.

I enjoy the stories told in manga more so than I have in comics as an avid reader of both recently. It feels as if the Japanese have a bit more creative freedom with their content, and it breeds excellence as dozens of manga artists have popular series that have elevated to the status of anime. For those unaware with this; anime is the animated adaption of these manga, like Dragon Ball Z being an adaption of the second half of the manga Dragon Ball. However, manga are often forced to fall under two categories: Shonen or Seinen. Shonen, being geared towards more younger audiences (Dragon Ball Z, Hunter X Hunter, My Hero Academia, One Piece, etc.), tends to be the more popular anime you’ve probably seen or heard about. Seinen, being geared towards more mature audiences, tend to have darker stories and more engaging character development (Berserk, Tokyo Ghoul, One Punch Man, Psycho Pass, Parasyte). Each story in each category is different but follows the formulaic of its’ genre a bit.

Flash-back to the 4th of July, 2016. The 97th chapter of My Hero Academia had just released on the holiday morning. To Japan, I assumed this was just another day so it didn’t particularly strike me as odd that we were getting a chapter on an American holiday. My Hero, as I love to so affectionately dub it, had been a story I had recently stumbled upon after catching up in one of my all-time favorite manga series Tokyo Ghoul (Great series). It took me some time, but I finally caught up, with a pivotal moment happening only weeks before a couple chapters back. After reading that moment (without spoiling), I knew My Hero would be absolutely phenomenal as an anime adaption.

The volume (semi-spoiler) that would solidify the series’s success (Vol. 11).

It wasn’t a matter of if My Hero would receive an eventual adaption, more like when. An impending anime announcement for a manga wasn’t hard to anticipate. If a manga was shown to be substantially and consistently popular over the beginning reigns of its course, it would most likely be ensured an anime adaption. It was the business of manga and anime, and something I found almost grand. A business connection between the media and literary aspects of Japanese culture.

My Hero’s anime was announced around its impending 135th chapter, roughly 10 months after I’d finally caught up to the series and had been reading consistently every weekly chapter since. I was about as excited as any reader could ever be. But My Hero stood out as something different to me. Something that pulled my little nostalgic heartstrings when I thought about all the old times I would watch Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man stop the train in the iconic scene from his second installment (Tom Holland FTW). It reminded me of the heroes of the old, and the new. Marvel was having more success now in cinema than ever before. It was almost poetic that My Hero’s superhero-esque theme would appeal to readers and anime watchers world-wide with ease. It was a retelling of American culture (superheroes) through a Japanese fan’s medium. It was uniquely brilliant! Cliche maybe, to those who don’t think too deep into it. But the structure of culture and how it affects us on a global scale is truly phenomenal.

It wasn’t long after the ending of the first season, that everything I’d hoped and dreamed for came true for the series. It was renewed for a second season within hours of the first one’s conclusion.

The advantage of having read the manga presented itself, as I knew everything that would be animated already, seeing as how I read it months beforehand through weekly chapters. But still, seeing it animated is another feet in of itself. It makes the pages feel alive, seeing the accuracy of each drawn panel you remember from a chapter being reenacted. It felt good to have been there from substantially the beginning, to a point now where My Hero is overwhelmingly popular, everywhere you go.

I kid you not.

Literally everywhere.

About a year and a half ago I had a hard time telling people about this series without it having an anime adaption. Now, I don’t even need to. Hell in fact, people ask ME if I watch My Hero Academia. Oftentimes I find myself chuckling at how the universe works. At how popular something can become overnight, partially due to the wonders of the internet.

It teaches me that the same could happen to me. If only you put the hard work in needed. Everything else will follow.

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The Story That Merges Cultures
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