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Animated animism the global ways of Japans national spirits

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This article discusses the tremendous global success of Japanese anime, its uses and negotiations of Japanese religious and nationalist mythology, and the way these features are appropriated domestically and abroad. Emphasis is given to the works of Hayao Miyazaki, whose films have been categorized as de-assuring Japaneseness and as promoting an environmentalist agenda. It is discussed whether the indigenous religion, Shinto, which has historically served as a vehicle for nationalism, can be applied to progressive ends unproblematically. The article argues that while the intended meaning of Miyazakis films may be to further ecological awareness, another concern of Miyazakis, namely to promote traditional cultural values, puts his work at risk of being construed along the lines of contemporary Japanese nationalism. Finally, the broader workings behind the global success of those apparently highly culture-specific films are discussed.
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Keywords: Miyazaki; Shinto; anime; banal nationalism; fan culture; occulture

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Copenhagen.

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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  • Northern Lights: Film and Media Studies Yearbook was first published in 2002 and places particular emphasis on film, television and new media. The yearbook, although carrying a theme each issue, welcomes a broad range of articles along with shorter review pieces.
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