Mocanu, Alexandra (2023), Anime culture in Romania, Cunoașterea Științifică, 2:2, 100-113, https://www.cunoasterea.ro/anime-culture-in-romania/
In Romania, since the last few years, there has been an increase in the consumption of media of Japanese origin, manifested by watching animation productions and reading comics. In January 2022, the anime film “The Dragon and the Freckled Princess” made its debut in Romanian cinemas. It was promoted in the country as the first anime to be shown in cinemas, with the title “Belle”. In September 2022, the first licensed manga collections in Romanian appeared.
The first anime dubbed in Romanian appeared in the early 90s and were broadcast on TVR 1 or other cartoon channels. Nowadays they are available on various streaming platforms such as Netflix. This paper traces the evolution of anime in Romania from the ’90s to the present.
Keywords: anime, culture, Romania, comics, film
Cultura anime în România
În România, în ultimii ani s-a înregistrat o creștere a consumului de media de origine japoneză, manifestată prin vizionarea unor producții de animație și citirea benzilor desenate. În ianuarie 2022, filmul anime „Dragonul și prințesa pistruiată” și-a făcut debutul în cinematografele din România. A fost promovat în țară ca primul anime care a fost difuzat în cinematografe, cu titlul „Belle”. În septembrie 2022 au apărut primele colecții de manga licențiate în limba română.
Primele anime dublate în română au apărut la începutul anilor 90 și au fost difuzate pe TVR 1 sau alte canale de desene animate. În zilele noastre sunt disponibile pe diverse platforme de streaming, cum ar fi Netflix. Această lucrare urmărește evoluția anime-ului în România din anii ’90 până în prezent.
Cuvinte cheie: anime, cultura, România, benzi desenate, film
CUNOAȘTEREA ȘTIINȚIFICĂ, Volumul 2, Numărul 2, Iunie 2023, pp. 100-113
ISSN 2821 – 8086, ISSN – L 2821 – 8086
© 2023 Alexandra Mocanu. Responsabilitatea conținutului, interpretărilor și opiniilor exprimate revine exclusiv autorilor.
Anime culture in Romania
Through this work we will observe the evolution of anime in Romania and how it has been perceived by people. In recent years, Japan has become a significant symbol in pop culture and has gained a significant number of fans globally, becoming a culture on which various scientific works have been based.
In Romania, since the last few years, there has been an increase in the consumption of media of Japanese origin, manifested by watching animation productions and reading comics.
Japanese animations have the name “anime”, being short for animeeshon (アニメーション); thus encompassing everything related to this theme, regardless of origin or style, and associated with Japan internationally. On the other hand Japanese comics are known as manga. 
In January 2022, the anime film “The Dragon and the Freckled Princess” made its debut in Romanian cinemas. It was promoted in the country, as the first anime to be shown in cinemas, with the title “Belle” directed by Mamoru Hosoda and starring Kaho Nahamura, Ryô Narita, and Shôta Sometani. 
Radio Cultural Romania confirms that it was the first anime to be shown in Romanian cinemas, as it was, at the time, the most recent film by Japanese director Mamoru Hosuda, and was nominated for an Oscar. It was released in cinemas on 4 February 2022, with previews on 29 January, the film had Romanian dubbing and subtitles. In terms of box office, it is estimated to have been in third place in its first week with a value of 188,409 ron.  Thanks to this event, new opportunities opened up and the following films in the same category were released: Jujutsu Kaisen in May 2022, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero in September 2022 and One Piece Film: Red in October 2022.
In September 2022, the first licensed manga collections in Romanian appeared. They were translated and adapted by the first manga “imprint” in Romania, Nezumi, which belongs to Nemira publishing house. The two series are “Bride of the Ancient Mag” by author Yamazaki Koré. The Japanese title being “Mahoutsukai no Yome”( 魔法使いの嫁) and translated into English as “The Ancient Magus’ Bride”. The second manga is “Kingdoms of Ruin” by author Yoruhashi, in Japanese with the name “Hametsu no Oukoku”(はめつのおうこく) with the English translation “The Kingdoms of Ruin”. 
Manga is extremely popular, especially in the US, they have become a publishing phenomenon since the first decade of the 21st century. Anime is more popular than Japanese comics, with an emphasis on advertising. Anime is Japanese for animation, the style was first introduced in Japan in the 1910s, and its export to other countries began in the 1990s. 
Indiferent de mențiunile anterioare, nu este prima intercțiune dintre România și acest tip de media, primele anime-uri dublate in limba romana , au apărur la începutul anilor `90 și au Regardless of the previous mentions, this is not the first intercourse between Romania and this type of media, the first anime dubbed in Romanian appeared in the early 90s and were broadcast on TVR 1 or other cartoon channels. Nowadays they are available on various streaming platforms such as Netflix.
Because of the perspective from outside Asia, Japan could be considered one of the most modern and important countries that participated in the development of the otaku subculture. Most people associate the term otaku with Japan because of the export of comics and anime in recent years. At first glance the term otaku can be defined as a person who watches and reads anime and manga based content. The image in Japan for the otaku subculture is known as an ideal by Western fans.
In order to understand the meaning of a subculture, one must first understand what a culture is, as there are several definitions.
Various sociologists have determined that there are six important definitions to describe this word:
- Descriptive: it is used to highlight different types of activities or specific behaviours of a certain group of people.
- Historical: considers the heritage and traditions associated with a particular group of people.
- Normative: refers to the description of rules and norms in a group.
- Psychological: refers to aspects of a culture related to learning, problem solving and behaviour.
- Structural: highlights social and organisational elements that have the notion of culture.
- Genetic: is used to highlight the origins of a culture. 
According to Ioan Mihăilescu, culture is defined sociologically as “the set of patterns of thought, attitude and action that characterize a population or a society, including the materialization of these patterns of things. Culture therefore comprises ideal components (beliefs, norms, values, symbols, patterns of action) and material components (tools, housing, clothing, means of transport, etc.). Culture contains a set of standardised responses for interacting with other members of society. It prescribes how a person should behave towards family members, neighbours, strangers; how one should behave at a funeral or marriage celebration; how one should behave when one is praised or insulted, etc. Culture is something normal for members of a society, which they only realise when they come into contact with different cultures. No human being can be considered a social being, a member of a society, unless he belongs to a culture. The link between culture and society is so strong that some experts equate them.” 
Ionuț Anastasiu defines culture as “a way of life specific to people, comprising the totality of behaviours learned and transmitted from one generation to another through society”
Taking into account the above definitions and explanations, culture can be said to be the structured whole, including: ideas, values, beliefs, customs and traditions, arts, moral rules, material objects, social norms, etc. of broad groups of people.
One branch that stems from this culture is the subculture, which is “…a part of the overall culture of a society, but at the same time they retain a distinct character, which is expressed by the crystallization of a set of their own values, norms and specific ways of life. Sometimes they also adopt their own language, called slang, which allows members of a subculture to give a particular meaning to certain words or expressions. One of the best known types of slang is that used inside prisons or by members of various gangs.” .
The term otaku is defined as a person who has an intense or obsessive interest, particularly in anime and manga. A word borrowed from Japanese, which translates as “your home”, where “o-” is an honorific + “taku” meaning “dwelling, house” being used as a polite pronoun for the second person. In Japan, the use of the pronoun otaku has become a term of reference for young males with poor social skills who devote their time to technology, or aspects of pop culture, a phenomenon that began in the mid-1980s; it is thought that the term can be associated with the synonym “geek” or in English “nerd” and “geek.”
The idea of “otaku” is mainly used for people who watch anime. The term “otaku” is generally used in Japan to define subcultures that revolve around the consumption of popular culture such as manga, anime and video games. 
The term “otaku” mainly refers to people who watch anime, but this category is more likely to be made up of shy and marginalised people. Initially members were introverted individuals looking for a method of validation and integration into society. They first appeared in the early 1980s, and the majority of members were males between the ages of 13 and 40 living in large cities. The image of a classic otaku has remained one of dress, sport and casual style, and his outward appearance is far removed from fashionable trends, which no longer interest him. 
To begin with, this subculture has spread to Asia, one example being the Sino Centre, located in Mong Kong, Hong Kong. In the early 1990s, this shopping centre can be considered the key point of the Japanese otaku subculture that conquered Asia. Comic books and anime such as Slum Dunk and Crayon Shin-Chan, Hello Kitty, TV dramas became popular. Some examples are Tokyo Love Story and TV idols. 
The idea of otaku is seen differently all over the world. The word otaku is defined differently in Japan than in the Western world, whereas in Japan the word is associated with someone who is obsessed with something in the music or video game repertoire, and spends most of their time indoors, ignoring everything around them and focusing solely on this hobby. In the United States the view of this word has a positive connotation, as it encompasses the admiration people have for their favorite characters. 
The otaku subculture has quickly become popular, but the ideas that define it are constantly changing. Critics of popular culture studies will argue that analysis of popular culture is futile and that the cultural products and ideals, which make up popular culture, are often short-lived fads that continually appear and disappear. Popular culture is full of stereotypes and images, its study should take into account the general nature of these images in every analysis. At the same time, however, there can be no better tool for learning about the precise problems of society. 
2. The global anime market
In recent years, the anime market, worldwide, has seen a significant upturn. In 2020, a study by Precedence Research was conducted to track this development. The title of the study is “Anime Market (By Type: TV, Video, Movie, Internet Distribution, Music, Live Entertainment, and Others) – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, Regional Outlook, and Forecast 2021 – 2030”. Precedence Research estimates that globally the anime industry is worth $22.6 billion in 2020. It is expected to reach $48.3 billion by 2030 .
Fig. 1. Growth chart of the anime market. Source: Precedence Research
The anime market, globally, has seen significant growth due to a number of factors. To summarise, a list would be:
- Increasing production;
- Increased popularity among the audience;
- Increased popularity of streaming services. 
Ease of accessibility allows people to watch their favourite anime. Overseas sales are a significant part of anime market revenues. 
The outbreak of the pandemic, caused by COVID-19, negatively affected the global anime market in 2020. It caused anime production to stop, some series to be delayed and merchandising revenue to be lost. However, slowly the market has been gaining momentum again, thanks to the massive increase in online streaming. This has led to an increase in subscribers to various platforms such as YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime. 
Globally, the anime market is dominant in Asia-Pacific in 2020. Japan is the leading consumer in the anime market in 2020. Japan, being the country of origin of anime, is the largest consumer, which is a factor for the growth of production studios, which has due to the increase in anime production, managing to captivate consumers globally. In Japan there are an estimated 622 anime studios, with the majority expected to be established in Tokyo. The growing popularity of comics and the development of various video games, which are based on anime-style characters, is playing a key role in generating revenue for the economy. 
Fig. 2. Consumption chart of anime market regions. Source: Precedence Research
The Middle East is expected to be the most favourable during that period. The number of fans watching anime series is growing, along with the standard of living, and access to online video platforms is helping this market grow in the region. The Middle East is made up of popular conventions that host various activities dedicated to anime consumers in the region. Huge revenue is also generated through merchandising, video games and comics. 
That said, these factors are expected to have a significant impact on the Middle East anime market over the forecast period. 
3. The beginnings of Japanese animation
In Japan, as in other countries, the history of animation began in the early 20th century with the creation of a series of short films. The year 1917 is recognised as a key year for Japanese animators, as it marked the beginning of a new era in their culture, which years later would become a symbol in modern culture. 
The first form of Japanese animation is “Katsudō Shashin”, which was discovered in 2005 in Kyoto by Matsumoto Natsuki, and the author is unknown. The animation follows a boy dressed in a sailor suit, who writes “katsudoushashin”, which translates as film, on a blackboard. He turns to face the audience and then salutes. 
The animation is 16 frames per second and lasts only 3 seconds. It is speculated that the short film was released in 1907 and the colours used to make it are red and black. 
Fig. 3. 1907. Excerpt from “Katsudō Shashin”. Source: MyAnimelist
“Namakura Gatana”, with the English name “Dull-Edged Sword”, is a short film of Japanese origin that was animated by Jun’ichi Kōuchi and then released in cinemas on 30 June 1917. The short film presents a silent comedy of about four minutes, featuring a samurai who tries to fight various people, but ends up losing to everyone. 
The animation was discovered in Osaka, Japan in 2008. Some scholars consider “Imokawa Mukuzô genkan-ban no maki”, translated into English as “Imokawa Mukuzou – The Doorkeeper’s Volume”, which appeared in 1917, as the first example of Japanese animation. Imokawa is still lost, thus Namakura is the earliest found short film. It has gained recognition as the first animation made by Japanese animators. The animation depicts a samurai trying to kill a blind man, but failing. 
Fig. 4. 1917. Excerpt from “Namakura Gatana”. Source: MyAnimelist
Nakamura is a classic and an example in Japanese animation. On the one hand there are critics who consider Namakura to be the first anime, but on the other hand other scholars and fans attribute this role to Osamu Tezuka’s “Tetsuwan Atomu”, popularized in America as “Astro Boy”. “Astro Boy” is considered the father of anime, due to its distictive style compared to the limited anime of the time. ”Astro Boy” by Osamu Tezuka, began airing on Japanese television on January 1, 1963 and ended on December 31, 1966. The story presents the reinterpretation of the classic “Pinocchio” story in a futuristic context, an event that marked a turning point in anime history. 
There are numerous writings that describe Osamu Tezuka as the father of anime due to his popularization of this style of animation through “Astro Boy”. The animation style was inspired by the way Japanese comics were drawn and was a guide for future anime that followed after “Astro Boy”. It should be noted that “Astro Boy” was not the first anime series to be 30 minutes long, in 1960 “The Third Blood”, a series consisting of three episodes of half an hour each, which was directed by Keiko Kozonoe and began airing three years before “Astro Boy” in 1960 [3,4].
Fig. 5. “Astro Boy” poster. 1963. Source: MyAnimelist
In fact, there are several series that appeared before “Astro Boy”, some well-known examples are “Hakuja Den”, translated into English as “The Panda and the Magic Serpent” from 1958 and “Shonen Sarutobi Sasuke”, translated into English as “The Magic Boy” from 1959 by Taiji Yabushita. They were an impressive success in Japan and became a model of inspiration for other very valuable artists such as Hayao Miyazaki. He is known as the founder of Toei Animation Co. Ltd. which was founded in 1956, a few years before the production of Kozonoe (1960) .
In order to be able to compete with the animation studios in America, Toei Animation Company, has been surprising everyone by using the “cel” style of animation invented by Earl Hurd and John Bray in 1915. 
This style of animation uses hand-painted images, which are called “cels”, to create the illusion of movement. Cel animation is an animation technique that uses hand-painted images called “cels” to create a series of static frames. 
Frames are mounted one at a time to create the illusion of motion as they are played back at 24 frames per second. Traditionally ‘cels’ are made of materials that are transparent, for example cellulose acetate or gelatin, but in some modern productions digital files are used. 
Yasuji Mori, through the company, creates the first anime in 1957, “Koneko no Rakugaki”, translated into English “Doodling Kitty”. You could say this is where the confilct begins as Doodling Kitty is a precursor to Astro Boy. 
Doodling Kitty in the West was touted as the first Japanese animated series, although it technically didn’t have a proper TV launch and lasted about 13 minutes, it featured the appearance of a naughty kitten drawing graffiti on a wall. Subsequent to these animations more have appeared: Instant History and Otogi Manga Calendar created by Ryuichi Yokoyama. The two animations began airing in 1962 and were completed two years later. 
4. The anime phenomenon in Romania
In the history of anime Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn, popularized as “Sailor Moon”, has become a remarkable inspiration for future generations. Sailor Moon was originally a manga series and received an anime adaptation in 1992.
The story follows 14-year-old Usagi Tsukino, who is clumsy and whiny, performing poorly in school due to lack of interest. She ends up meeting an alien creature in the form of a cat with a crescent moon on its forehead. Usagi shows her kindness by rescuing the cat from a group of children who were teasing her. From there, Usagi’s adventure begins, and with the help of the cat, Luna, she transforms into Sailor Moon. 
She has a duty to save the Moon Princess, and in the course of her adventure she will make new allies and enemies. Sailor Moon has enjoyed a considerable rise in popularity, where it has been localized and dubbed in English as well as other languages. One of these languages is Romanian and was broadcast on TVR 1 from 1997 to 1998. 
With the fall of the communist system in Romania and the beginning of globalisation, the country began to have access to a wealth of barrier-free information. This is how Sailor Moon made its debut in Romania, where it was shown entirely on TVR 1 between 1997 and 1998. The translation was done by Anca Petrescu and the dubbing was done by one person. The original sound was in the background while a narrator translated the lines. The dubbing was done by Mihai Cabel and Mircea Dan Duța. 
Romanian TV stations have started to broadcast other anime such as Saber Rider, Macron 1, Candy Candy, Sandy Bell. Pokemon and Dragon Ball were dubbed into Romanian by Romanian actors. Other examples of anime series such as Unuyasha, Yu-Gi-Oh, Full Metal Alchemist, Full Metal Jacket, Evangelion, Tokyo Mew Mew also made their debut in Romania in the 1990s. In the 2000s, a new TV channel was launched, called A+.
A+ was a channel launched by IKO Entertainment, which owned Minimax in Romania, so A+ was replaced by Animax on 2 July 2007. The Minimax and Animax channels were broadcasting on a single channel. Mimimax was scheduled from 6:00 to 20:00 and Animax started at that time. Animax showed anime dubbed or subtitled in Romanian. The channel was closed on 31 March 2014. 
The rise of anime has continued with the passage of time, as stremeaning services have emerged to legally broadcast them. Netflix is extremely popular in Romania and has an extensive catalogue, but another service with a considerable growth in popularity is Crunchyroll, which has a much more diverse catalogue of legal anime.
Along with anime consumption, the desire among Romanians to have products featuring their favourite characters has also increased. Products from this range and manga volumes can be purchased in bookstores such as Cărturești and Antique-Ex Libris, as well as in various online shops. 
It can be said that the first generation of anime fans were formed in the early 1990s and 2000s. It should be noted that with the rise of interest in Japanese anime in 2007, various fan conventions have emerged. Examples include Nijikon, Otaku-Fest, Comic-Con, Asia-Fest and many others. 
One of the main sources of information for anime fans in Romania is online. There are various sites dedicated to this topic, one of the most popular being myanimelist.net. In the early 2000s there were various forums dedicated to different anime, where users shared their opinions. Nowadays, the activity of forums has decreased, instead there are dedicated pages or groups on Facebook, Intagram, where different fans share their opinions.
Thanks to the growth in Japanese media consumption, anime and manga have become a booming industry. This is demonstrated by the release of four anime films in 2022.
Following increased demand among fans, the film “The Dragon and the Freckled Princess” was released, followed in 2022 by the release of three anime films in Romanian cinemas, demonstrating the interest of Romanian consumers for this media format. This is the result of a long journey that has been going on since the 1990s.
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 Imprint manga is the physical publication of Japanese comic books.