Japanese women, like most of their peers, are more attracted to anime than western women, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley.
The finding suggests that Japanese women have been watching anime and are more receptive to its cultural values than westerners.
The study, published online April 11 in the journal PLOS ONE, is the first to use Japanese data to examine anime consumption among Japanese women.
“We wanted to understand why Japanese women enjoy anime,” said lead author Jessica Koehler, a UC Berkeley professor of sociology.
“They’re interested in watching it, and they’re also interested in how anime relates to them.”
The researchers compared data from a Japanese survey of 1,000 Japanese women and 1,300 Western women, asking whether they watched an anime, whether they were interested in the show, and if they watched it for the first time.
They found that Japanese females watched an average of 7.5 hours of anime a week, compared with a Western average of 3.5.
Japanese women watched anime in a more regular fashion than Western women.
In terms of frequency, the Japanese average was once a month compared with just once a week for Western women and once a day for Japanese females.
The authors found that anime viewing was more common among young women and less common among older women.
They also found that more Japanese women than Westerners said they had watched anime before they became anime fans, but this finding held true across a range of ages.
Japanese anime watchers in their 30s and 40s had more interest in anime than those in their 20s and 30s.
Women in their 50s and 60s had less interest in the genre than women in their 40s and 50s.
They said they were more likely than Westerns to say they had not watched anime, but only those in the age range of 20 to 34 years old.
The findings also indicated that anime was more appealing to Japanese women when viewed online.
“When you look at anime in terms of cultural value, it is about the values of being a Japanese woman,” said study coauthor Tatsumi Ishii, a professor of Japanese and Asian studies at the University at Buffalo.
“So anime is a way of showing that you’re Japanese, that you can be strong, that’s a good thing.”
The study focused on anime because of its popularity among Western women in the United States, said Koehl.
The researchers said it is possible that the anime that Japanese girls are watching is a more realistic portrayal of what Japaners consider the values, as well as its cultural relevance.
Anime is often shown to depict violence, sexual harassment, and a lack of respect for human rights, Koehr’s coauthor, Tatsuya Okamoto, told Reuters Health.
“If you’re a Western woman watching anime, you’re really into anime,” Okamoto said.
“The anime is like a virtual reality, and we can feel that.”
Koehn, who is also a professor in the department of sociology at UC Berkeley, said the study could be used to help inform public policy, especially when it comes to how people are educated about anime and its cultural value.
“People in the West tend to be very judgmental and negative about anime,” she said.
But, she added, the researchers found that while Japanese anime is viewed with more interest and care than anime from other countries, Japanese women were less likely to judge a show based on its content.