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Integration and Inversion : Western Medieval Knights in Japanese Manga and Anime

Integration and Inversion : Western Medieval Knights in Japanese Manga and Anime

Griffith, John Lance

Medieval and Early Modern English Studies, Volume 17 No. 1 (2009)

Abstract

While there has been mounting curiosity among Western scholars about Japanese animation as a significant pop culture form, less attention has been devoted to the interest Japanese artists have in the Western middle ages. However, Japanese anime and manga artists borrow and transfigure not just the cross but many other elements of Christianity (stained glass and other trappings of the Church) and of Western medieval culture (the castle, the garden, the knight). In addition to occasional and relatively brief uses of such images, some anime and manga make extended use of medieval iconography, narratives, and narrative techniques. Japanese writers have their own rich (medieval) history and culture to draw on for source material, so there is no pressing need to borrow from western medieval and biblical narratives. Yet as episodic and image-intensive genres, anime and manga have a stylistic affinity with early Western literature. This essay explores the way in which these forms of Japanese pop culture find creative ways to adapt the alien material of the Western Middle Ages for their own cultural and artistic ends.

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