What is Anime?
Anime is very hard to describe in only a few words. If you don’t know what anime is, here are a few words that might help you get started. Anime is Japanese animation. The word anime is a transliteration of the English word animation. Related to anime is manga. Manga is what comics are called in Japan. The word manga was coined by the artist Hokusai in 1815, usually translated to mean “irresponsible pictures.”
Anime and manga are significantly different from their counterparts in America. For the most part, cartoons and comic books in America are thought of as geared toward youngsters. Cartoons and comics books in Japan are geared towards all ages. While there is a large amount of American animation and comics which are intended for older, more mature readers without the need for bulging superheroes, they are seen as something separate from the conventional line of comic books (hence DC Comic’s Vertigo label as a separate entity from its normal titles). Millions of subway riders in America pass their time reading novels on the train. In Japan, you’re just as likely to see someone reading a comic book.
While well thought out, “adult” animation is something of a rarity in America there are pleanty of tv shows, movies and direct to video (called Original Video Animations or OVAs in Japan) examples of anime. Look for high quality animation, real vocal acting (voice actors and actresses are big stars in Japan who hold concerts and have magazines and “data books” devoted to them), music everywhere, real drama like people dying and falling in love (sometimes at the same time!), and even the occasional English phrase thrown in for no apparent reason.
Clearly the above doesn’t apply to all anime. There are good shows and movies just with any sort of entertainment. But the only way you’ll know for sure how right I am in my description is to watch it for yourself. 😉
Anime on American TV
You might have seen anime on TV and else where! Over the years it has been molded to fit American audiences (or at least what TV producers think American audiences are). If you’ve lived in…
- the 1960’s…
- you might have seen Speed Racer, Kimba the Lion or Astro Boy.
- the 1970’s to the early 1980’s…
- you might have seen Battle of the Planets and Star Blazers.
- the mid-1980’s…
- you might have watched Robotech and Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years on TV or played Cliffhanger and Cobra Commandin the arcades.
- the 1990’s…
- You might have seen The Ronin Warriors, Sailor Moon, Technoman or a multitude of anime actually being referred to as anime on TV, in stores and in the theaters.
- the 2000’s…
- Anime emerged as a significant sub-culture in America. At any given, mainstream book, video or toy store, there is no shortage of content to watch or buy these days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions can be answered via Ohio-State’s Usenet FAQ library. Take a look at the Anime FAQ List to get your questions answered.
Also check out the FAQ directory at the Rutgers FTP site.
Ah! My Goddess!
Bubble Gum Crisis
CLAMP (a manga drawing group)
Kimagure Orange Road
Star Trek and Anime
Electronic Handling of Japanese Text