Date of Award
Master of Science
John Haas, Mark Harmon
The Japanese animated series, "Pokemon" (short for "Pocket Monster"), was a popular TV cartoon introduced in Japan in 1997. Since Warner Brothers began airing "Pokemon" in the U.S. in September 1998, "Pokemon" has strongly attracted U.S. children aged 2 to 11. What does "Pokemon" present to American children on TV? Pokemon's cross-cultural appeal may stem from its cultural themes. The goal of this study is to compare the English-language edition of "Pokemon" to the American-produced cartoons, "Men in Black" for the cross-cultural themes of "individualism versus collectivism," the associated communication approaches of "disruption versus cooperation," and the consequences of "winning versus losing." Regarding the idea of similarity and differentiation, "Men in Black" was thought to contain enough characteristics similar to "Pokemon" to qualify it to serve as a comparison in this study. Ten "Pokemon" and ten "Men in Black" episodes were coded systematically by 330 Character Description Code Sheets and 60 Content Code Sheets. This study found that the popular Japanese-made "Pokemon" in the United States may present its in-group's relationship through collectivistic perspectives, but these perspectives also could be found in the American-produced, team-based action cartoon, "Men in Black." In addition, in five out of ten "Men in Black" episodes the bad guys were killed at the end of the show. By contrast to "Men in Black," the bad guys in the ten "Pokemon" episodes never suffered the penalty of death. Furthermore, "Pokemon" allowed the good guys to be accidental losers, but "Men in Black" did not.
Wei, Fang-Yi, "Comparing Japanese and American themes in cartoons: a content analysis of "Pokemon" and "Men in Black". " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2000.