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Move over everybody else, this is Japanese movement!

Japan, the land of cool, has always been innovative when it comes to entertainment, fashion, technology, games, design... When talking about Japanese trends Japanophiles will list things like Anime, karaoke, Fruits, Cosplay, pachinko, Dotmov festival, Gas group, the subway... in one breath take. There’s more. Of course there’s more but that’s the thing about Japan - it evolves constantly, it outdoes itself perpetually. And this is exactly why people continue to be fascinated by it. Take for example Anime. I remember being a kid and discovering these strange cartoon girls with tiny mouths and giant eyes, cute and long-legged, fighting evil or cuddling kittens or smooching with their boyfriends.

Years later, my little sister sat in front of the television, day after day, religiously and absorbed Sailor Moon which became a huge - and surprising - hit in North America. At that time I recognized something about Anime that I failed to notice earlier - it was actually quite crudely presented with characters looking sort of wooden, with lots of still images and a poorly drawn 2-D backgrounds. Why would you be interested in that when you had Disney people sweating their precious fingers over five hundred different head turns of Little Mermaid, or better yet, a fully computerized features like Toy Story whose characters seemed to, practically, jumping out of the screen?

But my little sister loved her Sailor Moon and despite the fact that at that time I thought of myself as a serious teenager I started watching it with her and liking it and not being sure what was wrong with me because I did.   Then there was Pikachu – a hamster-like amazingly cute creature with special powers to morph into other creatures -- and a huge following of him and his bizarre cartoon friends started not only amongst kids but adults as well. 

The anime cartoons example illustrate really well what it is about Japan that makes whatever happens there – pop culture-wise – turn into a craze, a following or as I call it a movement.   I’ve mentioned Cosplay before.  Teenagers and adults dressing up in cartoon characters, making costumes, meeting at conventions, hooking up through personals and on-line forums.  They do this – on a large scale – in America now too but the trend started in Japan of course and it infiltrated the States the same way sushi, Japanese pop, Japanese fashion and, of course, cartoons have infiltrated it. 

A friend who just got back from Japan (it is Wednesday now and she came back Monday) and yesterday at dinner I asked her to tell me what new things were happening in Japan.  She looked at me and opened her mouth and didn’t say anything for some time.  Then she asked me if I was joking.  No, I wasn’t.  She said she just didn’t know where to begin.  I left her alone but for the rest of the evening admired her sweater and thought I would probably maim a small puppy just to own the sweater.  It had sleeves that seemed that they could go down to her knees but you they were actually folded over a number of times.  The sweater itself was sort of a shape of poncho but it had an uneven neck and it had one button and a flap over the button, yet it didn’t look like it was too much, in fact it looked very flattering draped like that over my friend’s small frame.  It was black, made out of the softest wool that was entwined with golden threads.