Date of Graduation

Fall 12-16-2022

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS)


College of Arts and Sciences


Asia Pacific Studies

First Advisor

Brian Komei Dempster

Second Advisor

Andrea Lingenfelter


This project explores the widespread popularity and impact of anime on Japanese culture. In my research, I demonstrate how the integration of anime into Japan’s culture creates big splashes—like stones being thrown into a lake—that, at the same time, ripple out in various directions and reverberate on multiple levels. First and foremost, this research centers around an important concept: that anime contains well-crafted storytelling and powerful imagery that demonstrates wider historical, cultural, and social issues—both the positive and negative. In anime films and shows, symbolism plays an important part as it can be found throughout the imagery and the storylines that are created; some of us who watch anime might even need historical knowledge to understand the significance of what is being told to truly understand what is happening. Second, I explore anime’s paradoxical quality. On one hand, it can be damaging, spread propaganda, and objectify, fetishize, and oversexualize characters. But, overall, the good outweighs the bad, and more often than not, anime is a positive social force. Using a blend of secondary sources and analysis of the films themselves, this analysis demonstrates how anime comments on wartime atrocities, delivers inspirational messages about peace, familial ties, environmentalism, gender/sexuality issues, and even delves into mental health. Anime performs the delicate and artful dissection of social topics within Japanese society. In this project, we start off examining one of the biggest, most devastating events in Japan’s history; next, we look at various social issues in their complexity; and then we consider how anime expresses challenging issues of identity and the inner workings of the mind.