What exactly is so awe inspiring about space, giant robots, interstellar battles, and cowboys in space to the Japanese? Since the Anime market is not geared towards Americans, I find the Japanese fascination with these things rather strange. But I am not an expert on Japanese culture either, and have only a passing obsession with samurai history.
My best attempt to quantify all this is to look at issues of time. Japan is a relatively new (post)industrial nation. An observation of science fiction in newly industrializing nations seems to point to a cycle of literature themes, with minor deviations to inject local cultural elements. Most industrialized or industrializing nations go through a face of space opera obsession, in the more “traditional” sense. India, for example, is experiencing similar thematic phases as early 1900s America. There are additional deviations in these phases, however, since it is impossible for science fiction to remain uninfluenced by what has come before it. But this is all a guess, and not, in any way, based on statistical data or absolutes.
And since I can’t possibly answer this question on my own, I’m throwing it out to all of you. Why exactly are space opera and space western themes so common in Japanese animation? Are there cultural factors that create these thematic elements?