NIPPONIA No.25 June 15, 2003
In Japan Today
Growing up with Animé
Written by Sakagami Kyoko

Japanese animé are admired around the world for their imaging techniques and varied storylines. One of them, Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away) won an Oscar for best animated feature film at the 75th Academy Awards. New animé are being released one after the other, while ever-popular TV cartoon series have been broadcast over the last 10, 20, or even 30 years. Ratings for these shows remain high not only among children, but among their parents as well. One of these legendary TV series is Doraemon, which is about the adventures of a robotic cat that saves a boy from predicaments he falls into. Two other series— Sazae-san and Chibi Maruko-chan — show everyday family life.
And then there are the new animé spin-offs from manga comics for boys. Two well-known ones, Detective Conan and Inu-Yasha, portray their heroes' exploits with friends. They deal with love, friendship and bravery, classic themes common to almost all Japanese animé and manga. Animé like these are big hits in Japan, and give parents and children the opportunity to spend time together.
What books are
selling well in Japan,
and why?
Written by Sakagami Kyoko, Photo by Kono Toshihiko

The Japanese buy about 4 billion books and magazines each year. But the number has declined steadily since 1994, and some observers say the publishing industry has entered its "winter years." Mobile phones and the Internet are everywhere now, replacing the enjoyment and information that books used to provide.
From book on top of stack: How To Enjoy Life, Life Starts After Middle Age, and One Drop in the Wide River, all books crammed with advice on living, based on ample experience.

While the contemporary trend is away from the printed word, self-help books giving hints on how to live and find fulfillment are doing remarkably well. In 1995, a few years after the economic downturn, Haruyama Shigeo's book on positive thinking, No-nai Kakumei (A Revolutionary Exploration of the Human Brain), became a bestseller, with 3.5 million copies sold. That was just the beginning. In Taiga no Itteki (One Drop in the Wide River), Itsuki Hiroyuki showed how the down side of life could be faced with a smile. His book sold 2.5 million copies in 1998. This was followed in 2001 by Ikikata Jozu (How To Enjoy Life). The author, Hinohara Shigeaki, is a 90-year old doctor still practicing medicine. More than 1.2 million copies have been sold so far. Oite Koso Jinsei (Life Starts After Middle Age), by Ishihara Shintaro, Governor of Tokyo, has sold 700,000 copies since its release in 2002.
The Japanese economy remains in a prolonged slump, and the population is aging. More Japanese find that now is a good time to look for a better way to live, a way that puts contentment ahead of money. That is why "how-to-live-happily" primers are in great demand.

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