What Is Anime?
This is an interesting and somewhat complicated question. But the simplest answer is that Anime refers to the Japanese terminology for animation, however outside of Japan it is considered by most as the Japanese counterpart of Western cartoons. Now anime itself has been a part of and influencing the western culture since the 90’s from Disney movies to the actual movie industry however its influence has often been overlooked. Anime being a crucial part of entertainment to many whilst growing up, Anime such as; DBZ (Dragon Ball Z), Sailor Moon, Digimon and more notably the Pokemon series, something that’s been prevalent in the western market for years.
That being said anime has become even more accepted in today’s market than it has ever truly been before thanks to many mainstream Anime like, Attack On Titan and Sword Art Online bringing
non anime fans to the fold. This could be due to the sheer amount of emotional depth and storytelling capabilities that Anime can invoke, or due to the gorgeous animation and art styles anime brings. Each anime being very different from one another however, sometimes vibrant and full of life or, dull, cinematic and dark. This could be why Anime has such a large demographic, and audience of people invested. From children to teens and even adults, there’s an Anime for everyone if you look hard enough.
So, to return to the original question; What is Anime.. Truly?
Anime can’t simply be explained as one thing or another. It can be identified as anything from an action anime to a comedy, romance and even a horror anime. These genres can be as diverse as the viewers watching. There is not just one specific category that can fit the ever flexible term anime. To give an example of just some of the varied types of anime one could come across and watch, here’s Death Note. This is an anime that’s quite popular both in the western market and Asia, even to some referring to it as a classic. It is so popular in fact its even had multiple Movies released in
Japan and even more recently, one from Netflix in America and lastly a TV series was also released in Japan, all based on the very same manga Death Note. The series being a Psychological,
Supernatural, Thriller with many adult themes. Or take Attack on Titan (or its Japanese name, Shingeki no Kyojin) for an example, an Action, Military, Drama, Fantasy with a heavy amount of gore and violence, as you follow along a story based around humanity becoming extinct and hunted by giants refereed to as Titans; Then on the other spectrum, we’ve got Special A, a romance, slice of life anime, filled with comedy as you watch a young girls romance. Then there’s anime series like Pokemon, that’s lighthearted, comical and generally designed with the intent of children watching.
Anime series are not the only source of Japanese media one can indulge in however, there are also anime movies and much like anime series there are many genre’s that anime movies can encompass however, it is typically excepted to be for a more mature audience. Now, many of these movies are considered masterpieces and works of true art, some of which are movies from Studio Ghibli who have produced movies like; Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbour Totoro, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. With some of their movies even making it to the western theatres, which is an achievement in its own right.
There are so many types of anime it’s impossible to explain every type of anime or to completely explain why it’s so loved and such a crucial part of today’s culture. Even so, there are many who
consider them to simply be “cartoons” intended for children to watch, and whilst there are anime directed for the eyes of children, the vast majority of anime have sexual themes and violence. Many who share this view also hold a stigma against those who partake in the watching of anime, often referring to them as Otaku’s or Weeaboos. Otaku being a subculture for people with obsessive interests, specifically regarding to manga and anime in Japan. However this terminology is now being used widely in many other countries outside of Japan. Weeaboos, being a simple insult for those not Japanese, obsessively participating in everything Japanese and anime related.
Then due to the huge influx and popularity of anime and everything Japanese, it has bled through in many different aspects over the years, from influencing the movie industry with movies like,
Pacific Rim, Ghost in the Shell and etc. American animation was also influenced as evident by Avatar the Last Air Bender. These are just some aspects affected by Japan’s influence. Something
else notable is the rise of anime conventions due to the sheer popularity of anime itself and with this rise of conventions, comes Cosplaying.
Anime Conventions are becoming more prominent, especially due to anime becoming more commonplace and less niche. Take Anime Expo for an example, its convention had a total of 107,658
attending in 2017, higher than it was even last year and it seems to be an ever increasing number. This is just one of the many Anime conventions found within America alone, places like A-Kon, Otakon, Sakura-Con, Anime Weekend Atlanta, Anime Matsuri and the like. They are all on the rise in population and it doesn’t seem like anime’s popularity will ever go down at this rate. These Conventions are not simply found in America or Japan however as it’s found in many of the countries in the western world.
Conventions aren’t just for people who enjoy anime however, this is also a place where people go to interact with their favorite characters voice actors or buy anime merchandise. Some also go and
cosplay as characters from anime series. Even making it into a profession and becoming a professional Cosplayer. Cosplayers aren’t the only people at conventions to dress the part when
going to conventions however, many fans will often dress as their favorite characters from anime series, often buying said outfits from reputable anime stores to complete the perfect look. Or if dedicated enough, creating their own outfit.
So, Anime is entertainment.. an escape from the norm to some, or it’s just simply art to others. No matter the personal view on anime, it’s a crucial part of our society and I personally wouldn’t have it any other way.