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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Third Chibicon explores Japanese pop culture

By Kean Spivey

UNC Pembroke hosted its third annual Chibicon J-pop festival on March 2 in the University Center Annex.

Anika Culver

Anika Culver

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Chibicon was organized by the UNCP’s Genshiken: The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture Club in an effort to raise awareness of the importance and popularity of Japanese manga and anime culture. Manga are wildly popular comics and anime are animated cartoons. Approximately 75 attended the event.

Tables were set up as different stations showcasing Japanese culture, ranging from food, popular mangas and art for students and faculty to check out.

There was an origami table for students to make their own folded paper creations, and a video game and karaoke section for students between speakers and panels.

Students were also encouraged to dress up as their favorite anime characters to celebrate the event.

The first panel of the night was hosted by Ian Fetterolf, a social studies education major, and was titled “Pirates vs. Ninjas.”

Contestants picked a team of either pirates or ninjas to argue for pirates or ninjas. Jokes and insults were hurled back and forth between the two teams before making peace in the end.

The first speaker of the night was Dr. Anika Culver, coordinator of the Asian Studies minor at UNCP.

Dr. Culver gave a presentation on the hardships that Japan faced after the economic downturn and how Japanese manga and the anime industry helped boost their economic woes.

“The J-pop industry garnered $2 trillion yen for Japan,” Culver said.

Dr. Culver’s presentation was followed by political science professor Dr. Kevin Freeman, who gave a PowerPoint presentation on manga as a cultural phenomenon.

Student dressed in costume

Student dressed in costume

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According to Dr. Freeman, the word manga literally translates into “whimsical pictures” and examples date back hundreds of years.

For the first half of the 20th century, American comic books were more popular. Then came the “Master of Manga” Osamu Tezuka, who created the famous Astroboy character, and everything changed.

“Today manga accounts for 25 percent of everything printed in Japan,” Dr. Freeman said. “It remains one of the world’s most profitable exports.

“People have become so enveloped in manga because of their rich characters and clever plotlines,” he said. “Manga has also managed to transcend cultural boundaries and reach broader audiences.”

Dr. Freeman showed examples of the different categories of manga that range from kid and ‘tween mangas, romance mangas, action mangas, and even gay and lesbian mangas.

Dr. Freeman concluded his presentation giving a brief overview on how copyright piracy is now severely affecting the manga business.

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