What is Anime ?

Chances are, if you live on planet earth, you must have heard about Pokémon. While to many it seems like your run of the mill cartoon, Pokémon is one of the first main stream forms of anime to become a popular craze in the west.

The word anime refers to all kinds of animation but in Japan it has taken on a far deeper meaning. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly constitutes anime?

As I have learned so far, fans of the genre consider it sacrilegious to compare anime to regular cartoons. The distinct look and feel, coupled with mature and often dark symbolisms and story lines have allowed anime series to start a cultural revolution. Until around forty years ago anime was bound to Japan, but it has slowly gained cult status in the West.

There are different genres of anime which target specific audiences called Kodomo, Shonen, Shojou, and Seinen. Kodomo refers to child appropriate anime, while Seinen contains adult only content. The genres you might be most familiar with are Shonen and Shojou which target male and female teenage viewers.

You might ask What’s the appeal in anime? Let’s start with appearance, even the most basic anime serials have a vibrant and visually striking feel. I’m sure you are all familiar with the bugged- eyed, tiny mouthed and petite sized characters which appear on most anime. Anime has a way to make even the most mundane moments appear refreshing. The in-depth storytelling and sheer breadth of the material offer a more sophisticated production as when compared to their western counterparts

Anime has literally become part and parcel of Japanese culture. Watching anime gives us unusual insights in to the norms of Japanese culture, almost as if we were travelling ‘through the looking glass’. For example, many common storylines, that would be considered inappropriate in the West, are welcomed in Japan. Many storylines include explicit violence and nudity which surprisingly are casually accepted in Japan.

Don’t worry though, if you are a newbie to anime. Anime distributors have strict protocols when it comes to rating their content. All anime productions come with appropriate guideline ratings. As I mentioned before there are many popular shows which target children such as Pokémon, Dragon Ball Z and Naruto. These are also typical gateway shows for beginners which require little or no understanding of Japanese nuances and culture.

Let’s take a look at some of the all-time favourites. Number one on the list is ‘Death Note’, an intriguing 33-part series. It  follows an intellectual high school student, who acquires the book of death.

Second has to be ‘One Piece’ which documents the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy an elastic boy.

And lastly, another Shonen storyline called ‘Code Geass’, documents the story of a schoolboy who possess the power to control anyone he wishes.

The ability of anime producers throughout Japan to produce unique and compelling content for decades guarantees an exciting future for anime not only in Japan but internationally as well.

Anime Genres

Different Genres of Anime

Anime is animation for adults mostly (however there are shows geared towards children as well). It is a Japanese media that allows for far more freedoms than western animations do. It’s more, visually appealing, for adults shall we say. But there are many different genres (just like with any media).  Here are some of the more prominent ones and what you can expect to see when you watch them.

Demons

One of the more recently added genres, demons has become something of amazement. Previously it was something that just came up, a theme in a few episodes, but it now has its own place in the world of Anime with series dedicated to just that. The world doesn’t just mean devil like creatures but also monsters and beast like creatures as well. They aren’t all horrors but you can expect to be scared at points.

Martial Arts

Because fighting in Anime is inevitable, but some shows are more geared towards that while others it’s just dispersed in there. The shows that focus solely on fighting are the ones that belong in this genre, think Dragon Ball. The idea behind this is that they primarily focus on hand to hand combat (but also other fighting techniques too such as swords).

Mecha

Think Evangelion, and if you don’t know what that is, I implore you to look it up. Mecha is mechanical, robots, things like that. Generally the robot or other mechanical suit is somehow integrated into the military and action, but whatever the plot it, it’s generally always pretty amazing. So if tech is you thing this genre is for you.

Post-Apocalyptic

The end of the world is coming, or so this genre portrays. Like the demon genre, this also started out as just a theme within a broader genre, but it’s now becoming extremely popular (especially with other non anime shows that deal with this genre as well). Pretty much the world is destroyed and the human race is nearing its end is the premise behind these shows. For a prime example, Attack on Titan can give you a great look at what to expect.

Psychological

If you like to be questioned on your own beliefs and what you think, that’s what this is. This genres goes into how the mind works and even jumps to philosophical. The characters focus on being cunning or making you think and playing with your mind. For a perfect example of this, take a look at Death Note.

Kids

Because a list of anime could not be complete without kids. Even though anime has a lot more geared towards adults and adult themes, kids are still able to enjoy some of the shows. These shows are fun, light, and not serious at all but keep children entertained. Pokémon is a perfect example of this and will always be a great one that also transcends generations.

 

This list is by no means exhaustive, there are at least a dozen different genres that encompass themes from each but are very specific in what the basic premise is. While you may think that anime is only for children, it’s not. There are even genres that are made entirely for adults and are completely inappropriate for children. Try them out, they are definitely worth your time.