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Since the success of the animated series Pokemon in the late nineties, Japanese animation has been enjoying greater popularity and recognition in America. Known increasingly by the
Japanese term “anime”, Japanese animation is gaining recognition as a medium that appeals to children and young people. Anime has had an undeniable effect on American popular culture.
For example, many children’s cartoons, such as The Powerpuff Girls and Kim Possible have begun to use an anime copycat style, “anime looks [were] leaping from the screen” at last fall’s 2 fashion runways , and Hollywood blockbusters either use animated scenes directly (Kill Bill Vol.
1) or borrow imagery from anime (The Matrix Trilogy). Though the effect anime is having on the visual style of American entertainment and fashion is easy to see, the implication of anime’s growing popularity for its country of origin,
Japan, are much less clear. In the following discussion, I will report my findings on the basis of a poll, and take a closer look at the role anime plays in stimulating interest in Japan, and the ways in which interest in anime and Japanese popular culture are closely related to an interest in Japan.
It is in fact difficult to tease the two apart from each other, since it is impossible to participate in anime fan culture, except at the very shallowest level, and not be exposed to other forms of
Japanese popular culture and traditional Japanese culture, and thereby be encouraged to explore them further. Anime and its relationship to interest in Japan are useful to consider in the context of teaching and learning about Japan. At the very least, one would think that a medium as easy

1 According to Lawrence Eng, an expert on otaku and otaku culture both in the US and in Japan, an otaku is a “die-

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