The Production of a 'Manga Culture' in France: a Sociological Analysis of a Successful Intercultural Reception

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Communication à la Conférence Internationale Asia Culture Forum 2006 Mobile and Pop Culture in Asia Gwangju, Corée, octobre 2006

Introduction Manga and anime are now part of the cultural habits of different generations of French readers, and they are a major cultural space where images and meanings about Japan and Asia circulate. From the end of the 1970’s, intercultural relations with Japan developed mainly through this Japanese media culture1. The success of manga and anime contributed to a strong interest in different aspects of Japanese culture, but there are still few studies of this successful intercultural
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In a second moment, at the turn of the century, the sophisticated cultural capital accumulated by fans became more visible and produced new forms of legitimacy for manga, thanks to several factors: fans’ “professionalization”, the viability of the manga and anime markets, the opportunities offered by new participatory media technologies, the blurring of traditional cultural hierarchies. A whole set of competences was involved in the reception of manga, and the process of its legitimization took multiple forms. 1. Media panic” and underground fan organization in France between 1988 and 1997 The “manga boom” in France was largely based on the success of some anime on French private TV channels engaged in a fierce competition to attract young audiences with cheap programs, between 1988 and 1997: Saint Seyia, Dragon Ball, Hokuto no Ken, Sailor Moon were broadcasted on the major French commercial channel, “TF1”; Captain Tsubasa, Kimagure Orange Road on “La Cinq”, a private channel owned by Silvio Berlusconi. An increase in manga's popularity has taken place mostly since 1994-1995, when the original manga linked to these popular anime were published. Manga was then visible as a distinct cultural product. Previously, since the middle of the 1970’s, there had been anime on French TV in the first programs targeting

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