BYU professor says anime encourages cultural connections

BYU professor says anime encourages cultural connections

Japanese 2D animation, commonly known as “anime,” has become a medium through which BYU students have been able to diversify their cultural knowledge.

According to BYU Japanese professor Shin Tsuchiya, anime creates cultural connections with those around him.

Tsuchiya said he has heard experts say that Japan is losing its economic power, but anime is something that cannot be replicated. He also said streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have allowed anime to become more accessible and that anime can teach good morals.

According to Tsuchiya, anime also has soundtracks and music that are very influential. “We want to push students to be able to understand Japanese, and anime provides — I mean sometimes very exaggerated — but good input for students to practice,” Tsuchiya said.

Tsuchiya said anime can be a good reference for students who want to practice speaking politely and using correct pronunciation. According to Tsuchiya, the mother in “Spy x Family” is a good example of a character who uses the polite language of Japanese. He said if students can process some of the tones and pay attention to how some characters speak, as opposed to just relying on subtitles, it can be very beneficial.

Anime usually consists of 12 episodes lasting about 20 minutes and varies from one to 20 seasons.

Andrew Cohen, a returned missionary who served in Tokyo, said anime has a story progression and character development that doesn’t exist as much in American shows. He said that while American shows are generally more drawn out, anime usually has a more focused, faster progression that results in a more concise thesis.

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“American shows feel more watered down in terms of content and progression,” Cohen said. “And so when I watch anime, it’s because there’s like a whole story, a whole message, a whole meaning of a story that I can consume.”

30 BYU students recommended anime, the top five of which are listed above. Anime has a growing influence in Western popular culture. (Created in Canva by Savannah Hsu)

Cohen said there is still a stigma surrounding watching anime. He said the American perception of anime is mainly focused on mainstream, longer action shows like “Naruto” or “One Piece.”

Because Cohen was initially only exposed to the mainstream ideal of anime, he said he thought anime was “shrinking” due to its characters’ exaggerated emotions and exaggerated reactions.

However, Cohen said he has since discovered that there are a variety of genres and types of anime.

“Animes like Attack on Titan have gained popularity, so the social stigma surrounding anime has changed as a result,” Cohen said.

BYU finance major Hyrum Chen said anime appeals to him because of its deeper themes and analysis of human nature.

According to Chen, anime is 2D and already unrealistic to begin with. He said that animators can develop characters and stories that expand the breadth of the world.

“Most people make fun of anime, and I think it’s because of a closeness to the majority of people in America,” Chen said. He said that many people’s perception and misunderstanding of anime stems from the frightening stigma surrounding certain anime fans.

Chen said people should not make judgments based on perceived stereotypes they hear. “If you come at things with a closed mind, you’re not going to be exposed to new cultures,” he said.

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