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Superpower Japan Part 5: Trends of Military Themed Anime and Manga

 

Since Japan is the star in the upcoming Update 8.10, let’s do a quick walkthrough of the evolution of military themes in anime and manga!

Lots of people around the world probably fell in love with Japan after picking up a habit of watching anime and reading manga. Both media platforms have the potential to appeal to all generations as picture-based stories are easier to understand. It also helps that the colorful nature of anime gives viewers something beautiful to enjoy and talk about with friends and family.

Both anime and manga often extend beyond entertainment – many titles encourage deep thinking with educational values. On the topic of war themes, titles like “Mobile Suit Gundam” can give people born after World War II an image of what it is like to be in a war.

Weapon and military-themed titles in Japan evolved over the years to keep up with trends and to stretch the boundaries of creativity.

At first, realistic stories were all the rage…

From World War II to the early 70s, actual experience from veterans, real historical places and weapons were used as themes. The end-results were usually like anime or manga versions of a history textbook. Many of those stories were based on anti-war and anti-military feelings.

Although many of such titles have little influence amongst fans of military stories, several of them became renowned classic masterpieces which gained large fan bases. Mangas like “The Cockpit” by Reiji Matsumoto became wildly popular amongst military fans. The story revolved around WW2 and related elements like weaponry and soldiers of that era. “The Cockpit” had an OVA (Original Video Animation) published in 1993 and its DVDs are still flying off the shelves as you read this!

Then… Science Fiction won the popularity contest

War-related content was difficult for creators to publish from the mid-70s to early 90s as the baby boomers and community began to favor ideas of peace and social equality. Anime and manga creators soon began to adopt Science Fiction themes. War themes were then woven into Science Fiction drama, Mecha, and Fantasy genres.

Grew up in that era? Familiar war-themed titles include “Space Battleship Yamato”, “Star Blazers” and “The Super Dimension Fortress Macross”.

Make MOE! Not WAR! Oh, wait. WHY NOT BOTH!?

In the last 20 years, the element of “Moe” (a Japanese slang word often used to describe adorable/cute fictional characters) grew to become very popular. Female main characters began to become popular in war-themed stories, breaking the normal stereotype of strong and macho males as main characters. Titles like “Neon Genesis Evangelion” spearheaded the creation of a new category featuring girls and weapons.

Stories that feature young girls using realistic weapons in military settings usually attract both fans of “Moe” and military realism. Examples of such titles include: “Strike Witches” and “GIRLS und PANZER”.

What’s your favorite war-themed anime? Let’s talk about it on the forums!

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