Italy and Japanese Cartoons

Image credit: sararoom / 123RF Stock Photo
Image credit: sararoom / 123RF Stock Photo

I’m close to finishing my Italian-placed romance novel (tentatively titled Before and After the Wedding), and yesterday I was perusing some of the early scenes I wrote while still freewriting around the concept. Well, one of the “scenes” I found (and I use the term loosely) had my heroine dragged off to listen to a cover band for Japanese cartoons from the eighties and nineties.

Is this something you associate with Italy?

Well, probably not. Unless you’ve happened to visit, and ever entered a comic book store. Japanese comics (or graphic novels) are everywhere. Did you grow up thinking Transformers was the coolest thing? He-man? Batman? Well, hordes of Italians grew up watching Japanese animation—I’ve been told this started because the networks could buy these shows cheaper, and since they needed to dub them anyway, they might as well dub from Japanese as from English. Is this true? Well, I have no idea.

But I do know that when I studied engineering in Italy, I didn’t meet a single Italian student who hadn’t watched Ken Il Guerriero (Hokuto no Ken—Fist of the North Star) when growing up, an at the time fabulously animated cartoon about a lone warrior in a post-apocalyptic world. Or who’d never heard of Lupin III, or Tiger Mask. And that’s not even getting into the numerous robot cartoons.

So, what does this have to do with my book? Well, nothing really. Only that one scene that popped up when I was brainstorming Italy was my heroine listening to a cover band for the Italian versions of Japanese cartoon theme songs. And yet, no one who’s never been to Italy would probably think about this at all.

Isn’t that fascinating?

I never actually finished the “scene”, so I never got to decide what my heroine thought of these catchy tunes. I for one happen to enjoy them. And even if Ken Il Guerriero goes a bit on my nerves when everyone starts dying to save the hero (yes, of course I watched it!), it’s impossible not to love the theme song after hearing hundreds of people chant it with unfeigned enthusiasm.

Well, or at least the first verse—the only one you actually heard in the cartoon itself.

Leave a Reply