Not many people know this, but Betty Boop was something of an American cultural ambassador. She found her way to Japan in the mid thirties, and resonated incredibly well with Japanese audiences. The boys at Fleischer Studios were thrilled to find out that their little animated queen was so popular in Japan, and created this episode, “A Language All my Own”, specifically for their Japanese fans. Worried that they may alienate or offend Japanese viewers, they worked with Japanese-American cultural experts, and Japanese exchange students to make sure the episode was perfectly tailored to Japanese sensitivities (it even includes a bonus risque joke, for Japanese speakers!). The episode was incredibly well recieved, and boosted her Japanese popularity even further.
Betty Boop was one of the first animated characters to find a fanbase in Japan, and one of the first American Cultural icons. Her popularity survived through WWII, and continues to this day. Her distinctive style was a major influence on Legendary Japanese artist Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astro-Boy. Mixing elements from Max Fleischer’s style with traditional Japanese art, Tezuka created the art that would become the definitive look of Japanese anime. So if you love anime, or games and animation inspired by it, be sure to thank none other than Little Betty Boop!