Anpanman is the brainchild of Takashi Yanase, who created the character in 1968 as a manga series, publishing his first works in 1973. In 1988 it became a childrens TV favourite and is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest number of characters in an animation series. Thats 1768 different characters across 900+ episodes! And probably more now? Among the many favourites are the following;
Characters include; Anpanman, Dokinchan, Baikinman, Horrorman (right) and Uncle Jam, amongst the many more!
Although the museum is not unique (there is one in Yokohama), it's still a major attraction in Kobe and signs (Anpanman faces) lead you from the station to the museums entrance. From there on in its all about the kids and Anpanman. Shops, shows, themed cafes and restaurants entice the visitor to stay for as long as possible (a good old tourism trick). Once in the museum itself there are themed areas for the children to play in, characters to climb on and other displays that allow the children to run around, touch and drive; all helping to bring these popular images into a realistic, playful world. They also show some of the cartoons and there is again an appearance from the hero in a short live show. It all adds up to a 3 to 4 hour feast of Anpanman fun (for the kids). And a rest for the parents. Although I felt just as tired having to keep up with the constant moving around. So as an attraction it gets a big thumbs up from me, even though its not the cheapest attraction in the area; 1500 yen entry fee! (see last weeks post for cheaper and more adult themed attractions ).
This got me thinking about the role that manga and anime characters play in Japanese culture. It transpires they are incredibly important. At each stage in a child's development there is a character that they can relate to, Anpanman being one of them, going onto more complex figures and I include Godzilla in that. They help to give an insight into Japanese life, the culture, the customs ect. A doorway for the rest of the world into this unique culture. All too often it seems that a certain type of anime is all that is portrayed to the world (I'm sure you know what I mean?), and that gives a false impression. Japanese manga and anime covers so much more, it can be gentle, educational and just plain fun. So here's to Anpanman, a childrens favourite, lets applaud its place amongst the anime world.
Do you agree? Have you ever seen or heard of Anpanman? To get more information about the attraction please follow the link (especially if you have kids!).