In the Footsteps of the Master: Confucian Values in Anime and Manga

Abstract

Since their introduction to Japan in the Sixth Century, the teachings of Confucius have played an important role in the creation and sustenance of societal values and order. While Japanese society has changed much since the dawn of the postwar era, these same basic principles are still highly influential, but are seen in some surprising forms. Geared primarily at pre-teen and teen-age boys, recent shônen anime, especially Naruto and Bleach, evince Confucian values while encouraging the viewer to identify with and embrace them. While some critics of contemporary culture are quick to point out some of the societal breakdowns and subcultural variances common to the Otaku phenomenon, Confucianism is still alive and well, albeit in reinterpreted forms. Using shônen anime in the classroom to examine traditional values creates a useful device for understanding Japanese popular culture and its connection to larger anthropological and historical themes.

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Born, C.A., 2010. In the Footsteps of the Master: Confucian Values in Anime and Manga. ASIANetwork Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts, 17(2), pp.39–53. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/ane.206

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Authors

Christopher A. Born (University of Missouri, St. Louis)

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