Japan is a beautiful and culturally rich country which is in a constant state of progression and innovation. The people embrace time old traditions but at the same time live an almost futuristic style of life. It is however a society where everyone works very hard, no one stops and stress levels are incredibly high, but popular Japanese animations and videogames have led a huge fan base of nerds to believe otherwise.
Japanese culture is one of the most popular niches amongst nerds in the Western world however there is a clear issue when it comes to the interpretation of it. Their view on Japan is tainted by the way it’s shown in popular cartoons known as “Anime”, leading to a large misunderstanding in what living in Japan is actually like. In these cartoons Japan is painted as an idyllic place to live, with the stories usually focused on young teenagers and adults living simple and happy lives. It rarely touches on the real life stresses that young teenagers and adults go through on a daily basis.
Now it is easy to say that it’s just a cartoon and that focusing on extremely negative aspects of Japanese culture would hurt the shows views, but completely neglecting to inform the viewer of the reality of Japan creates this misinterpretation.
The truth of the matter is that the suicide rate in Japan ranks third highest in the world, according to an article from The Washington Post, and the rates for suicides among young people is extremely startling. Suicide rates often peak during exam results periods, showing that a young person’s dedication to success can be tragically fatal if a mistake is made.
The reason behind the large amount of stress is the pressure for financial stability and the need to get a steady job. According to one article from the BBC, nearly 40% of young people in Japan are unable to find stable jobs. It is quite ironic that despite the high percentage of people who enjoy nerd culture most are either not financially stable or simply choose not to work at all, spending their time watching these cartoons in their rooms.
Content creators focusing on Japanese culture should at least try to include a more realistic representation of Japan in their work. Wanting to be Japanese from watching cartoons and actually living and existing in Japan are definitely not the same. Nerds blindly claiming that the Japanese lifestyle is the life for them would be very quick to retract their statements if they lived even a week in a stressed out and overworked Japanese person’s shoes.