Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Timothy Evans (Director), Dr. Ann K. Ferrell, Dr. Lindsey Powell

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


In this thesis, I examine the relationship between folk tales and Japanese animation, or anime. In spite of the popular association between animation and adolescence, animated television series and films have a dynamic and compelling relationship with various age groups and nationalities. Additionally, anime and animation draw liberally from a number of folk tale traditions. Consequently, in this essay, anime is understood as a global phenomenon that draws on international cultural elements and is consumed in several international markets.

Before entering an analysis of the use of folk tales in anime, a history of animation and the place of anime within a Japanese and global matrix is provided. This history not only looks at the development of anime, its connection to Western cinema and animation studios, but also its connection to other Japanese artistic genres, such as manga. Once this foundation is established, it is possible to connect anime with folk tale scholarship in chapter two. This chapter explores this connection in three ways, namely similar content, structure and function.

Chapter three builds on the analysis in the preceding chapter and examines the ways anime, as a visual, televised, episodic series, builds on and alters the folk tale tradition. This is primarily explored through the use of visual storytelling techniques and the proliferation of advanced technology. Additionally, this chapter addresses a major point made against the use of folk tales in mass media, specifically the loss of variation. The final chapter concludes and summarizes the ideas, and analysis throughout the thesis. It is in this final chapter that suggestions for further research can be found.

This thesis looks not only at the use of folk tales and folk tale characteristics in new media, such as anime, but how these new media contribute to and help to pass on folk tale traditions. Ultimately, this paper suggests anime is an example of a contemporary form of tale telling, which draws on traditional elements as well as catering to a contemporary audience.



Included in

Folklore Commons