Questions: History and Reception of (Japanese) Anime in Nigeria

On a completely different note. – I have recently stumbled on an article/blog post about (Japanese) anime in Arabic over at Muftah. Written by Razan Idriss, an avid fan of anime as a child, the article notes that

'by the late 1990s and early 2000s, many Arabic speaking children watched dubbed anime daily, featuring then-contemporary shows such as Detective Conan, Slam Dunk, and Ana wa Akhi (Aka-chan to Boku). […] Yet, anime in the Arabic-speaking world has gone unresearched by academics and pundits alike.'

Idriss observed that

'The way in which anime was dubbed from the '70s until the contemporary day often reflected the politics of the Arab world. For example, producers often chose shows that would encourage popular 20th century nationalist ideals of pan-Arab-Islamic unity. There was also a focus on family, personal honor, and good morals. … Romance, swearing, off-color humor, short skirts, alcohol, blood, references to magic, or references to non-Muslim beliefs about afterlife found in the original Japanese were quietly censored out … [T]his same censorship meant to keep shows sanitary and polite, often led to children being exposed to complex and intriguing narratives focused on the perspective of marginalized people.'

'It was no co-incidence that in the 1970s, Grendizer – featuring a tiny band of humans fighting against alien invaders – was idolized by children living through the Lebanese Civil War [and] is now becoming a symbol for children in the Syrian war … Other anime shows highlighted the experiences of everyday people in the face of violence, underlined the sacredness of peace and childhood, and championed individual bravery in the face of overwhelming social darkness.'

Razan Idriss(12/12/2017): 'Anime in Arabic: Transforming Arab Millenial Identity.' (Retrieved: https://muftah.org/anime-in-arabic-transforming-arab-millennial-identity/#.WjfUKDf_rIV, acc. 18/12/2-17)

Now while I am genuinely curious, I am not particularly interested in the reception of anime in Arabic-speaking countries – although I could have imagine that anime in Arabic may have resonated with some audiences in northern Nigeria for the very same reasons that Idriss outlined: thematic relevance of some of anime's themes and the fact that anime were dubbed in Modern Standard Arabic, enabling children and other students of the langue to better learn MS-Arabic. According to a good friend on Facebook, however, they did not. Only recently has Arewa24 been trying to promote them (Caveat: Going by the Arewa24 Trailer on YouTube, I suspect my friend was talking about animated films more generally, rather than anime in the Japanese tradition.)

Screenshot of Arewa24 Trailer on Youtube

But, even before anime was dubbed into Arabic, there were English-language dubs of some shows – Wikipedia, for example, suggests that Astroboy ran on NBC between 1963 and 1965, already. Anime certainly made inroads into European children's programmes in the 1970s. It certainly featured prominently during my childhood, in particularly the late 1980s/early 1990s when we started watching West [German] TV. Now, what about Nigeria?

Japanese anime have certainly made an impression on recent generations of Nigerian youths (well, at least those who had access to TV and DVDs). As Smartgeek's Lordsurh noted: 'Anime fans are everywhere, even in Nigeria.'

'The number of anime fans in Nigeria has grown as young teenagers & adults continue to embrace the awesomeness and intriguing nature of these Japanese animations. From sports, action, comedy, romance and so on finding the right anime … Initially watching anime in Nigeria might seem like a playful and 'kiddish' idea to those who find it hard to understand the excitement and joy it brings to fans across the country. Thousands of anime with awesomely heart-pumping action, nail-biting suspense & thriller, busty and trigger-happy female characters, not to mention wonderfully psychotic villains – The sky is the limit for every Nigerian Anime Fan out there.'

Lordsurh (28/1/2017): 'Top 5 Anime Every Nigerian Anime-Fan Needs to Watch.' (Retrieved: smartgeek.com.ng/2017/01/28/watch-anime-series-nigerian/, acc. 18/12/2017)

Discussion threads on Nairaland and other forums also bear witness to anime's popularity (and that of animated films in general).

'I first started with western cartoons but once I got introduced to [J]apanese anime by my cousins in the mid 90s, shiii. … The storylines seemed more complex, action was more engaging and the art style was more appealing. I still saw my western toons, only they were gradually being replaced by anime.'

Wordsmith (5/10/2012): 'Re: Japanese Animation (anime) vs. Western Animation' [Nairaland comment]. (Retrieved from www.nairaland.com/982722/japanese-animation-anime-vs-western, acc. 18/12/2017)

And, in his recent publication on Nollywood, Jonathan Haynes (2016: 307) noticed that 'young Nigerians have grown up with a lot of Japanese animation;' some of the Nigerian animation films he sampled reminding him of the style of Japanese manga. – Chicken Core: The Rise of the Kings (2012) by Spore Dust (the company's CEO Shina Ajulo was featured on TYN's Young Nigerians).
Screenshot of Chicken Core: Rise of the Kings (2012) by Spore Dust (Youtube)

All of that has me sufficiently intrigued to wonder about anime's history in Nigeria. A quick look around the internet suggests that in 2013 Taiyo Industry Africa Inc. and Nigeria's Channels Inc. collaborated to launch an anime TV channel in Nigeria, according to Japan Daily Press and Crunchyroll. In 2014 Japanese animation studio Tezuka Productions announced a joint animation project with the Nigerian TV network Chanel TV called Robot Atom, reported Otakumode. And, in 217 the Vanguard announced that the Nigerian Federal Government 'accepted offer by Japanese Government to assist Nigeria to develop capacity in production of anime and children films.'
But, I would love to learn more about the genre's earlier history and reception in Nigeria. When did the first dubbed anime feature on Nigerian TV? When did anime start gaining a greater fan base? How did/do Nigerian contexts affect the ways anime was/is received? Etc. – And, here's my question to you, dear reader, and any other denizen of the world-wide-web passing by: Is there any article, book, or blogpost that you could recommend?
All of that has me sufficiently intrigued to wonder about anime's history in Nigeria. A quick look around the internet suggests that in 2013 Taiyo Industry Africa Inc. and Nigeria's Channels Inc. collaborated to launch an anime TV channel in Nigeria, according to Japan Daily Press and Crunchyroll. In 2014 Japanese animation studio Tezuka Productions announced a joint animation project with the Nigerian TV network Chanel TV called Robot Atom, reported Otakumode. And, in 217 the Vanguard announced that the Nigerian Federal Government 'accepted offer by Japanese Government to assist Nigeria to develop capacity in production of anime and children films.'
But, I would love to learn more about the genre's earlier history and reception in Nigeria. When did the first dubbed anime feature on Nigerian TV? When did anime start gaining a greater fan base? How did/do Nigerian contexts affect the ways anime was/is received? Etc. – And, here's my question to you, dear reader, and any other denizen of the world-wide-web passing by: Is there any article, book, or blogpost that you could recommend?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

'Portraits' of Sheikh Usman dan Fodio

First Impressions: Contemporary Photography in Nigeria

Popular Portraits of Sheikh Ahmad Tijani - Another Little (Procrastination) Gem