Could Pop Culture be considers as Art Heritage? Japanese Manga as artistic creation
Sociology- Anthropology Lille 1 University Villeneuve d'ascq, France
For more than ten years now, it is acknowledged that Japanese pop culture productions have became successful worldwide.
Manga (i.e. Japanese comic book) is a huge part of these industries of entertainment, with high sales and large audience. Nevertheless, it would be simplistic to consider only this aspect of the phenomenon: though manga is a cultural industry and a mainstream production, it could be consider also as a form of art. For example, about its origin, specialists pointed out that this pop culture object is affiliated with the Japanese pictorial tradition, like woodblock print. In addition, the famous artist Hokusai is designated as the one who create the word "manga". Then we can see a will to establish the artistic affiliation of manga and then to consider it as an artistic and cultural creation, not only just a pop culture goods. Hence, to go further with that theme, we can have a look at the "International Manga Museum", a museum established in Kyoto in 2006. Indeed, trying to analyze the implication of that kind of museum leads to raise the question of considering manga as art and including this form of art to a making of heritage process. Among the observations I have made in that museum (fieldwork, summer 2008) I have noticed elements which led me to see this museum as a very important place where the process of artistic recognition and heritage consideration are in progress.
Nevertheless, these kinds of considerations about manga are quite recent: for a long time, manga has been criticized and underrated by Japanese public opinion. Indeed, that process is clearly linked with globalization of Japanese pop culture and its consequences, particularly in terms of tourism and cultural highlights. Foreign tourists are coming in Japan with the will to see and enjoy pop culture, because that is a more and more important part of their image of the country.
Then, the purpose here, from an anthropological point of view, is to make the link between global success, foreign praise and the gain of cultural and artistic respectability for manga in Japan.