SOAS University of London

Japan Research Centre

Is Anime Really Popular in the World? An Alternative Way to Approach Anime’s Globalisation from the Case of a Trans-Asian Anime Business Project

Ryotaro Mihara (Lecturer in International Management, School of Finance and Management, SOAS University of London)

Date: 31 January 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 31 January 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: Seminar


Japanese animation (anime) has become one of the most globally prevalent elements of Japan, influencing the world’s entertainment, creators, and youth culture. Many arguments attest to anime’s global popularity by celebrating the enthusiasm of anime creators and fans and their transnational solidarity. This presentation attempts to provide an alternative perspective from which to understand anime’s globalisation by casting an ethnographic focus on the business side of anime – an aspect that has been relatively neglected in existing literature. The presenter will first share his experience doing 12-month fieldwork in one trans-Asian entrepreneurial anime business project, operating in Japan and India. He will then propose an on-the-ground perspective (acquired from the fieldwork) to see anime’s globalisation as being carried forward by the entrepreneurial players who broker multiple conflicts, such as conflicts in arts versus commerce and in business customs. While previous discussions are widely interested in describing how creators and fans are transnationally ‘connected’ in a relatively conflict-less manner, this presentation aims to depict the moment in which anime businesspeople ‘make connections’ transnationally by compromising on and re-orientating conflicts. The presentation will also explore the further theoretical implications of this anime project’s ethnography vis-à-vis the literature on creative industries.

Speaker Biography

Dr Ryotaro Mihara is a sociocultural anthropologist focusing on the creative industries (with special reference to Japanese animation), entrepreneurship and cross-cultural management. His main regional area of expertise is Japan. Before entering the field of academia, he extensively developed his professional career in the creative industries sector: as one of the founding members and Deputy Director of the Creative Industries Division in Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; as an overseas cross-cultural business consultant for Japan’s foremost advertisement firm and an Indo-Japanese start-up venture; and as a global promotional representative of an independent film. His current interest is to examine how the activities of entrepreneurs (especially their brokerage function) span the boundary of the business of Japanese creative industries in the Asian region. He is now working on a monograph based on his 12-month doctoral fieldwork at an entrepreneurial business project which tries to facilitate the Japanese animation sector’s business expansion from Japan to India. His next research project will ethnographically focus on Japan’s international film co-production projects with China and the Middle East.

Organiser: SOAS Japan Research Centre

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