Question: How have animators visually incorporated Japanese myth and folklore into anime, such as Naruto and Pokémon?
In order to answer the above question, we’ll need to set a line between myth and folklore. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Myth is defined as “a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; especially: one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of a society”. According to the same dictionary, folklore is defined as “traditional customs, tales, sayings, dances, or art forms preserved among a people” and “an often unsupported notion, story, or saying that is widely circulated”. What does this say exactly? It basically explains that a myth is the idea of a society and that folklore is the medium for expressing the idea. Another notion that I’d like to present is that myths, in general, are used to explain indescribable occurrences and supernatural events, like creation, animals, gods, rain, death, bugs, creatures, and everything else that goes bump in the night. Within most Japanese myths, there is a creature or being that unintentionally causes a major event or does some significant action, and the vast majority of Japanese mythology deals with a great deal of gods, goddesses, spirits, and creatures (so many that the list literally goes from A to Z).Branching off of myth, folklore tells the tales of people and creatures, and how they overcome or succumb to a crisis or conflict. Most of these tales are about how the world came into being, and why things are the way they are. Some are as complex as to why the sun rises and sets and why death happens, to demons that haunt bathrooms (Aka Manto and Akaname). A lot of the legends told in mythology are deeply rooted in nature and intricately describe the coming of the varying lands and elements; earth, wind, water, fire, and lightning. Some deal with customs and traditions, while others are about legendary animals and even specific locations like a cave or an island. As stated above, there are many different categories in Japanese myth and folklore: Creation, landscape, seasons, life and death, spirits, and other lesser categories like animals and traditions. The concept of the creation myth is very simple and is greatly represented within the anime series Naruto and Pokémon. Naruto
As the reader may or may not know is that Naruto is an ongoing Japanese manga comic drawn and written by Masashi Kishimoto. This series has become widely known throughout Japan, and since its inception has quickly claimed number one on many official and unofficial charts. The story of Naruto tells the take of a young boy of the same name. He is a ninja of the “Village Hidden in the Leaves”, also known as “Konohgakure (KOH-NO-HAH-GAH-KUR-REH). Approximately twelve years prior to the beginning of the series, a Nine-Tailed Fox Spirit attacked the village. The Hokage (literally shadow of fire), person/leader revered for being the wisest and most powerful, sealed the demon inside a newborn child, Naruto Uzumaki. Because the demon destroyed the village and took many lives, many people shunned Naruto and treated him as if he were the demon fox itself. This, however, drove Naruto to become the Hokage in order to gain the respect of the village. During the series he gets stronger and trains with his friends/teammates Sakura Haruno, Sasuke Uchiha, and the team captain Kakashi Hatake, along with countless other strong ninja, such as Jiraiya and, Orochimaru (main antagonist).
Character: Naruto Uzumaki
As stated above Naruto Uzumaki is the main protagonist of the series and a very adept ninja. As a child he was shunned by almost everyone in his village, and treated with hate and distain. This caused him to misbehave and act out in order to get the attention he wanted. Because of the prejudice and isolation he suffered, Naruto began to yearn for attention and acknowledgement, he also strove to become the Hokage. Since he became...
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