Grendizer Leaves for Sweden

Japanese Anime Nostalgia on Syrian Social Media

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Omar Al-Ghazzi London School of Economics UK

Search for other papers by Omar Al-Ghazzi in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



Exploring the post-March 2011 Syrian online sphere, in this article I focus on nostalgic videos and memes inspired by Arabic-dubbed Japanese anime series originally broadcast on Arab government TV stations in the 1980s. As part of a dissident social media culture, amateur videos that redubbed and edited childhood cartoons have appeared on YouTube since 2011—tackling themes of revolution, war and exile. These videos defied and mocked the Al-Assad regime, as well as the Islamic State. I argue that they are to be understood as empowering media practices for how they project political meaning onto childhood cartoons which are associated with a generational identity shared by now-adult Syrians. Highlighting an understudied aspect of media globalization—the influence of Japanese anime on Arab popular culture—in this article I examine a diverse body of social media clips and memes that recycle Japanese anime. I analyze their re-appropriation by Syrians, by offering a typology of nostalgic online practices in the contexts of war and the uprising. These can be summed up in three categories of nostalgic mediation: nostalgic defiance, as expressed in calls for political action; nostalgic mockery, as reflected in subversive nostalgic humor targeting authority; and nostalgic anguish, in reaction to the trauma of war and exile, for example, in relation to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 1375 214 6
Full Text Views 338 26 1
PDF Views & Downloads 245 52 1