Some Thoughts on the Mainstreaming of Anime in the Philippines

SUKI JAPAN FOUNDATION MANILA Newsletter Mainstreaming of Anime in the Philippines

I recently had a personal essay published in the latest issue of SUKI, the Japan Foundation Manila Newsletter. I feel very honored and privileged for the opportunity to be part of a respected publication. I am now sharing the article in its entirety on the site today. If you have any thoughts you’d like to share, please do not hesitate to leave a comment. Thanks, everyone!

Twelve not-so-long years ago, the after-school routines of an entire generation of Filipino children involved getting home, playing in the streets for an hour or so, and then settling in front of the television to watch cartoons before the evening news came on. Unlike the educational slant of early morning cartoons, the evening shows featured more intense action, more uproarious slapstick, and more involved storylines than their Disney ilk.

We are, of course, talking about Japanese animated shows. Dubbed in Filipino or English and ranging in titles from Dragonball Z to YuYu Hakusho (known locally as Ghost Fighters), Japanese anime became as familiar to Filipino kids as sweet-style spaghetti and corn and cheese ice cream.

With the advent of cable TV and high-speed Internet, Filipino kids these days – along with their enthusiastic parents and even their nostalgic grandparents, are exposed to even more anime than ever before. Not only are the shows readily accessible and more varied, there are also further opportunities to become deeply involved in the hobby.

Local specialty stores and department stores carry DVDs, action figures and toys, and other collectible merchandise. Independent comic retailers and large book chains carry Japanese comic books and magazines, both in English or in their native Nihongo. There are also import shops and online sellers that ship in animation-related items direct from Japan, like special edition boxed sets and resin animation figures. The range of merchandise available on the local market today would be bewildering in the standards of the previous generation.

The down side to all this open access is that some of the newer fans – especially those who were introduced to the hobby fairly recently via the Internet – have grown a sort of entitlement complex with regards to anime and manga. Instead of painstakingly waiting for and purchasing the official releases, they would rather go to online file-sharing services and download the material. If the files are still in their native Japanese (which are the usually the case with newer titles), these fans complain that the translations aren’t being done as quickly as possible, or worse, that the original authors or animators are working too slowly for their tastes.

For the record, sharing files is not inherently wrong, and it is one of the things that make the Internet such a wonderful tool; however, if these fans start thinking that having downloaded material – without purchasing at least some of the merchandise attached to the franchise, gives them the right to act like spoiled brats, then there is definitely a problem.

Instead of playing the blame game and pitting fans against each other, perhaps a better idea would be to encourage these fans to stop sitting around waiting for translations, and go out and learn proper Japanese. It’s as good a reason as any to learn a new language – and who knows, it could be the start of a long, dedicated desire to learn about Japan in all it complexity.

I personally admit to this, having started out learning the language to support a burgeoning addiction to anime, but ultimately it led to several scholarship grants to Japan and earning a Level 2 Certificate in the JLPT. Other fans in the local community have also turned this passion into an advantage: some are putting up businesses catering to fellow fans, while others are using the anime community to further their academic goals in the fields of social research and cultural study. Some have even gone on to work for Japanese corporations and agencies, utilizing their Japanese skills rooted in their initial interest in anime. There really is no limit to the good one can do if given the proper motivation and guidance.

There are always two sides to any fad or boom, and the rise of the anime fan culture in the Philippines is no different. The best we can do is to harness this passion into something positive – to use it as a tool to teach and to learn, to encourage and innovate. These aren’t just cartoons anymore – it’s an introduction to an entirely new culture and a different way of life.

The author is a former JASSO and JAL Scholar from UP Diliman. She is also one of the administrators for ONGAKU SOCIETY (, the largest Japanese music community in the Philippines. She likes to travel abroad to attend music events and anime conventions to see how different (or similar!) they are to local events.

19 Comments Add yours

  1. nina says:

    Woohoo! Go Rotch!

    I tried learning Japanese because of anime too. I failed XD


  2. what no nina, at least you tried — and that’s half the battle 😀 i could always tutor you if you like ❤ it would be my pleasure — you've helped me a lot with setting up my websites and making introductions to the other bloggers 😀



  3. Naoko says:

    Everyday is a learning experience~ =D

    At least reading this, I am actually seeing a clearing view of the anime scene here in the Philippines ^^

    *thumbs up to rose~*


  4. chelli says:

    heya! nice article…omedetou on getting this published ^^ i definitely share your views on how an interest in anime can lead to good careers and inspire love for the japanese culture.

    mata ne ^__^V


  5. hi chelli — glad to hear you feel the same 🙂 i mean — after all, we did originate from the same scholarship programme, some things were bound to be similar with the way our post-collegiate lives worked out 😀


  6. Mistral says:

    I completely agree. It is a doorway to another culture. I myself attest to this since I initially learned Japanese out of interest in this hobby. I’m still a somewhat lowly Japanese speaker, but watching the raws of some anime grow even more and more understandable the more I delve into the language and culture. It’s been really productive for me.


  7. Mickey says:

    “There really is no limit to the good one can do if given the proper motivation and guidance.”

    Yeah, I know what’s it like.
    I wasn’t really the best high-school and college student in existence, but because of anime, I was motivated to learn Japanese.
    And now, I can write over 900 kanjis, and my Japanese grammar and vocabulary is growing.

    Umm, would it be Ok if I were to ask you for some help with my Japanese studies? Thanks.


    1. hi there! i’m so glad you’ve taken an interest in learning the japanese language. i’ll do my best and try to hook you up with some learning resources online, but if you need a tutor it might be a wee bit difficult unless we meet up (and that in itself is problematic as i do have a nine-to-five). anyway, i’ll still do my best to help you out online. feel free to leave a message here and i’ll see what i can do. good luck with your studies!


  8. Mickey says:

    Such generosity!
    Thank you for your willingness to help & share any online resources that you know.
    There are so many sites out there that offer tips and lessons on Japanese,
    sometimes it could be a bit overwhelming.
    But I’d like to know which site you think is the most useful.
    My grammar and vocabs level, I think, ranges from being a bit above a beginner to the lowest level of being intermediate.
    Asking you to be a tutor may seem a bit too much.
    But I appreciate it a lot that you thought of the idea.
    I might ask you randomly, though, for tips on grammar and reading and some vocabulary as well.
    Can you see my eMail?
    May we keep in-touch thru it?
    Thanks again!
    Your generosity encourages me ^_^


    1. hi there! for starters, give these links a try:

      good luck with your studies 😀


  9. Mickey says:

    JLPT! Yay!!!
    I have the old JLPTs.
    But it’s always nice to be updated.

    Oh yeah, and here’s my random question.
    what does “kankenai” literally means?
    in some animes, its translated as “i don’t care”…
    But I’m curious what its actual meaning is.
    Is it a negative form of “kankeru”?
    I’ve searched some online dictionary for the word “kankeru”,
    but I didn’t get a result…
    Also tried my dictionary, but it didn’t contain that word too…
    and that’s where I got lost ~_~;


  10. Mickey says:

    Rose-sensei, do you have an account on Facebook?


  11. hey mickey — sorry, i must’ve missed your old question.

    anyway “kankei ga nai” (or “kankeinai”) is a noun + modifier phrase — meaning “relation” + “none”; it’s not a verb so you can’t use the te form + “nai” modifier to negate it.

    hope that helps 😀


  12. Mickey says:

    Finally! Haha!
    So, kankeinai’s short for “kangei ga nai”.
    Kankei, kankei… relation…
    nai = nothing…
    “No relation”…
    It’s starting to make sense to me now!
    It always feels good to be enlightened.
    I didn’t realize that this blog entry is part of your website.
    I thought I was on
    And it’s a site about things that are related to the Japanese culture and any other stuffs from the Land of the Rising Sun ~_~;
    Very cool! I’m learning a lot from here.
    Arigatougozaimashita, Rose-sensei (._.)


    1. lol how’d my blog entries end up on blogspot?! ^^;;


  13. Mickey says:

    Hehe, I used to frequent blogspot before and read blogs and write comments on them.
    Feels kind of the same with what I’m doing here.
    Very nice website you got by the way.
    Keep the updates coming ^_^


  14. Mickey says:

    Sensei, do you still get to watch animes even with your busy sched? If yes, what anime are you into now?


    1. hi mickey — please don’t call me sensei ^^;; thanks!


  15. Mickey says:

    Haha, fine =P


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