Depictions of Beethoven in Japanese Anime: Japanese Visual Arts Transforming Western Iconography
Beethoven’s legacy is still alive and well in present-day Japan, where his life and works continue to play a major part in Japan’s modern cultural landscape. The Western vision of the wild-haired, scowling genius is commonly recognized in Japan today, and it comes as no surprise that many agencies have tried to harness the power of his unmistakable image to attract Japanese consumers.
This presentation examines two examples of Beethoven as an anime character. The first is from the 2001 OVA Read or Die, in which Beethoven is a cyborg fated to destroy mankind with his “Suicide Symphony.” The second is “Beethes” from NHK’s 2016 comedy anime ClassicaLoid, a stylishly leather-clad android obsessed with cooking the perfect gyoza dumpling. In addition, we will hear how Beethoven’s symphonic masterpieces are transformed in the anime underscores to support the distinctly Japanese characterization of Beethoven found in these popular shows.
Heike Hoffer, The Ohio State University