5 animes that taught you Japanese culture/history without you even knowing it

The word anime means “Japanese-animation”, all of us who have been watching these Japanese cartoons should at least know that much by now.  It can be assumed that all of us have learned at least something from anime regarding the culture or history about Japan so not only are we having fun watching something that we like, BUT we are learning something about the culture from where it is produced.
Here are some of the anime that I wanna mention that all of us consciously or subconsciously have learned about Japanese culture from:

5.  Tenchi Muyo (天地無用) – Any teenage boy w/ a boner’s fantasy right here.  Who wouldn’t like be the only guy (well I guess “yountenchig” guy) in a house with 6 chicks that want to have your baby???  You also get a miniature rabbit/cat thing as a bonus ^_^.  Tenchi and his harem of space chicks go on all these cool adventures involving all kinds of space pirates and royalty trying to distract Tenchi from which chick he was gonna bang first.  But during all of this you get to see many “little” things about Japanese culture like:

–What the Japanese country-side looks like

–Beach culture (water melons and yakisoba)
-Japanese houses outside/inside (architecture, futons, tatami, rice cookers)

A lot of things from everyday Japanese daily life in the country side (well, everything excluding the hawt chicks and space ships), but overall it was a fun story and anime to watch on Toonami after school.

4.  FLCL (フリクリ) – Ok, so this anime you probably wouldn’t have seen unless you were staying up late and watching Cartoon Network (and if you weren’t, well, like kill yourself, lol).  This is brought to you by the same creators of the waaaaay more popular anime “Neon Genesis Evengelion”, but that is gonna get it’s own Tkyosam article in the future.   FLCL or “Fooly Cooly” is an anime about a boy named Naota who is pissed off at life or rather the lack of excite which is missing from his life, then one day he get’s hit by some alien chick on a scooter and all this crazy shit starts happening.flcl

FLCL showed us the other” country side a lot of people don’t get to see.  Which is kinda like the U.S midwest: people are bored and kids are driving their parents cars. :p  …well not that bad but it did show us stuff like:

riverside areas, you always see these in Japanese anime, but it does show that those places place a certain significance in where the “adolecent crowd” in Japan like to linger, also a good place to befriend a wierd dog robot that eats cars…

-Japanese cars- it really does show how small and plain Japanese cars are.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But after Tokyo Drift came out everybody thought there would be Viper Gtz and shizzle everywhere…

Japanese community/housing WIth the exception of that building that looked like a giant clothing iron, everything fromNaota’s house/bread-shop are authentically looking Japanese.  Especially the Kotatsu that Taku and his grandfather sat under in their living room.

3.  Great Teacher Onizuka(グレート*ティーチャー*オニツカ)Great Teacher Onizuka is an anime about a guy named “Eikichi Onizuka”. This guy is an ex-biker turned high-school-teacher in order to finally lose his virginity and hook up with as many high school girls as humanly possible. This anime is already pretty popular but it really gives you a good look into the Japanese school system such as:greatteacheronizuka01

Teaching exams- The poor teachers in Japan in order to become teachers in Japan, after they graduate from university they have to take a 2 part test. Part one is them having to teach an actual class for 1-2 months then they have to take a written test to pass as well. I’m not sure if they covered this in the anime or manga though…aw well this is a blog, no need for citing sources when I am writing this for fun and not getting paid for it J

Bosozoku- The official/un-official bad boys of Japan. Onizuka was the leader of one of the of the biggest. These bad boys drive around in motorcycles and cry about how they weren’t hugged as children. Really, I have met a lot of guys like this in Japan and most of them were nice guys who would get their asses kicked if ever trying to step up to an American, lol.

Game centers-Onizuka kicks Murai’s ass at every game that he is challenged to, which includes classics like Virtua Fighter 3, Point Blank, and this weird arm-wrestling game.

This anime

2.  Samurai Champloo
(サムライ*チャンプル)– Take the awesomeness of Cowboy Bebop, throw away the Sci-Fi shizzle, guns, and hot blonde chicks and you get Samurai Champloo. This anime is about a girl named Fuu trying to find this samurai “who smells like sunflowers” and the 2 roaming Samurais (Jin and Mugen) she randomly meets up with in episode 1. What’s this anime got that introduces you to Japanese culture and history:samurai-champloo

Miyamoto Musashi (famous samurai who basically wrote the book on Bushido, gets a name drop from a weird old samurai who saves Jin in one episode).

Ainu- the traveler who saves Fuu when she falls off a waterfall. Turns out that traveler is “traveling” because his whole village up in Northern Japan was wiped out and he is on a trail for revenge. The way his home looks when he is describing it and by the clothing he is wearing gives the hint that he was from Hokkaido where the FIRST, original people of Japan were from.

The DutchOh the Dutch, how they get so much crap after Austin Power’s dad said they sucked. But hey, the people that made Pot legal, can’t be all that bad, can they? Turns out that you can learn from this anime that the Dutch were some of the first people to come to Japan and openly trade with the government there. We learn that when Fuu gets her ass handed to her in an eating contest by this white dude who says he will give her all the money and shizzle she lost in the contest if she and the guys just show him around town.

There are a lot more examples I could bring up, but those were a few of my favs from the show I thought I would share.

1.  Gintama
(銀魂-) Whats the perfect way to make an anime where you can literally do whatever you want?  Well, for starters, have the main characters job description be 万事屋 (yorozunya) which basically means “10,000 jobs store/Any-service store”.  This anime is great because it’s no holds barred and makes fun of not only itself, but also makes fun of Japanese pop culture at the same time.  There are soooo many “in” jokes when it comes to referencing Japanese culture that most of the time, even I don’t pick it up. Where to start? Well…gintama_41u

Kabekura- these are bars where men with money go NOT for women to show their tits, but to have the women talk to them and pour them drinks. One of the characters sisters works at one to keep their dojo open.

Shinsengumi- The Shogun’s (president of Japan figure guy) special police. Probably never as present are they are in this manga. Plus, with the guy who did the voice acting for Mugen(Samurai Champloo) doing the voice for one of the character of Hijikata, makes it all fun.

Otakuthere are MANY kinds and Gintama writers go out of their way to to make fun of them. From anime to music idol fans, no Japanese reject group has been left out of this anime.

SSGintama is probably the biggest pop-culture teach you are gonna find when it comes to the anime department.

In In conclusion:

I guess that I would wanna end this telling you guys that are reading this, that it IS possible to learn as much as you want about Japanese langauge and culture WITHOUT having to being physically being IN Japan.  Sure it helps, but with today’s internet resources and everything, there are plenty of ways for people to learn about the culture without having to pay for the expenssive plane ticket.

Thats it for now, you all stay black and classy.

-Sam out


~ by tkyosam on January 27, 2009.

One Response to “5 animes that taught you Japanese culture/history without you even knowing it”

  1. Actually I got into anime to learn a bit about the culture. Now I do drama for that.

    It’s quite a thorough analysis, I wonder if you have more recent additions to the list. Evangelion, the sound of insects in summer, the streets, and cetera.
    Please let us know when you publish that article on NGE

    Zetsubou Sensei also has lots of inside jokes. Ranma… well other than the scenery and home manners, onsen, that kinda stuff.

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