Anime vs. reality

I think many fans of Japanese anime and manga will be disappointed that Japan isn’t much like what they see in their favorite stories.

Japan, in general, is a strikingly conservative and reserved society. I read a book Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behavior by Kate Fox, and in the book she likens Japan to England.

Both are island nations with people who generally seem to enjoy their privacy and not making loud scenes in public unless alcohol is heavily involved. Even the act of people kissing in public here is frowned upon.

Exceptions abound, of course. I can point to Tokyo’s Harajuku as one such example of creativity overflowing. Osaka is also apparently famous for people being loud and speaking their minds.

However, in general, I’ve found that Japan is extremely conservative. For example, apart from women dying their hair brown or the older generations dying gray hairs, hair-dying is heavily frowned upon here. Along with the school uniforms and then business attire dress codes, I feel like Japan is quite in love with the idea of uniformity in their society.

Above all, no one seems to want to make waves within their community. Whether that means dressing more conservatively or being quieter than you would like in any given situation, I haven’t met many people who are willing to contradict this idea.

I think that’s why a lot of Japanese anime and manga can get so crazy. I think it’s how many Japanese can vent their creative frustrations because this stifling society doesn’t allow too much creative expression.

I think that’s why a lot of Japanese TV variety shows are also absurdly over-the-top. I think it’s a way for people to come home from a day of conforming and relieve stress by laughing at people clearly not conforming.