In today’s world of entertainment, it’s nearly impossible to avoid being exposed to anime either through a friend, a lover or over-sexualized clickbait. Currently, anime is thought of as only for children and more mature viewers are looked down upon for watching anything with a hint of fan service and the occasional panty shot, but there seems to be a lot of misconceptions from the non-anime crowd. If you’re unfamiliar with the genre, please allow me to educate you on some anime basics.
What anime actually is
The term “anime” comes from the Japanese language as a broad word for all things animated, but here in the west, it’s used to describe the style of TV shows and movies imported from Japan. What distinguishes anime from other cartoons are its outlandish settings, vibrant animations, and otherwise weird fashion choices in a wide variety of genres like Sci-fi and adventure.
It can be just as complex of a medium as traditional cinema…
No, anime isn’t all about magical girls and beefy men fighting. Surprising, I know. Looking deeper into the stories and characters, you’ll find many anime are actually filled to the brim with visually appealing story-telling. Characters often have in-depth backstories and distinctive personalities, and grow and develop as the story progresses. It’s through these characters that we learn about their world through their eyes. Many anime are targeted specifically towards mature audiences; It’s these works that have more blood and gore in their fight scenes, more philosophical questions imposed upon them, or heck, even both at the same time. Studio Ghibli’s Grave of the Fireflies is a great example of an artistic, complex anime. At first glance, it may come off as just a kid’s cartoon, but it touches on deep topics like the effects of war and hits right in the feels like a kick to the groin.
… but not all Anime is ‘good’ Anime.
Please do not confuse, say, the Dragon Ball series with the story-heavy anime I was talking about when it’s just really a testosterone-filled power fantasy for hyped kids and nostalgic (but still hyped) adults. It’s animes like these that require little to no thought and focus on cool fight sequences and being just plain awesome. And that’s okay. I myself am guilty of clenching my fist powerfully when I see a really amazing punch or blow. Don’t judge me.
There is kick-ass music
Intros in anime are one of the most pivotal parts of a successful show. One such example would be the very first Pokemon intro, ‘Gotta Catch ’em All’ which does more than set the mood for the anime; it’s become a pop culture anthem in its own right. Even during the show, outstanding soundtracks compliment the animation whether they’re amping up the intensity before a fight scene or setting the mood in an otherwise silent scene, leaving our thoughts to wander.
Be prepared for boldness
Anime isn’t afraid to break through even the strictest of social taboos, whether it’s questioning tyrannical governments or seeing how much skin it can get away with. Heck, it’s through bold decision that most animes become successful in their attempt to stand out from the rest. While this often works in an anime’s favor, sometimes it backfires. A successful example would most undoubtedly be the popular anime series Kill La Kill for its tendency to cater to fanservice. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have High School of the Dead, a great anime in its own right, but it’s burdened by too many attempts at fanservice that ultimately take away from the experience of watching it. Sure, it can be said that all you have to do is ignore the boob physics, but it’s kinda hard to do when it becomes the main focus during bullet time.
It’s not porn (I swear)
Speaking of boob physics, your first exposure to anime may have been stumbling into a really awkward scene – a makeout scene or cleavage zoom in – and I understand how it looks. As an avid anime watcher, having someone walk in at that exact moment, when you can just feel them judging you, it just… it feels bad, man. I have to admit often anime caters to what fans ask for, and often fans ask for boobs. This can be a heavy turn off, especially for female viewers, and I can certainly understand that. Trust me when I say all anime isn’t like that, but consider this a warning for anyone aimlessly browsing through anime playlists for something to watch.
Anime isn’t fringe culture anymore
While there is still a ton of obscure anime, franchises like One Piece and Naruto have becoming wildly popular in the west. Even our western cartoons have been influenced by their Japanese cousins with shows like Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans(You know, before it was turned into the cartoon we anime fans all know and hate) or Nickelodeon’s Avatar: the Last Airbender. Alongside our cartoons, Hollywood also goes through lengths to adapt anime films and series into movies for better or worse such as the newest adaptation; Ghost in the Shell which was a hit classic anime movie which revolutionized most sci-fi films we know of today.
With so much variety and opportunity in this age of anime trying to appeal to all demographics, there really is something for everyone. Gaming, fantasy, sci-fi, drama, romance, you name it — there is an anime for everyone’s tastes out there. It’s finding them that’s the tricky part, much like discovering your favorite candy at a candy store. Just… make sure you don’t trip into the adult-only section. That’s where things begin to get freaky.
Ready to give anime a try?
Last modified: July 3, 2018