What is Anime? A Look Into The World Of Japanese Animation
Anime, such a beautiful word for a lot of people. This word sparks emotion in us; yes, anime is a feeling or an experience to some people. Netflix US reported that the viewers for their anime viewership doubled during lockdown season; it seems like anime is growing way bigger. People find out about this master art as the day goes by, so for the new viewers out there, let’s look deeper into what anime actually is.
From the jaw-dropping end of the world type battles, some of the world’s most iconic characters, moments that make you want to roll up and cry your heart out, moments that make you laugh until your stomach hurts, anime does it all. The animation, the storytelling, the characters, everything is so elegantly done. The number of trends, other entertainment fields like movies and games, people, groups, companies, and lifestyles in general that have been influenced by anime is not in any way small.
“Anime,” when translated from Japanese, literally means animation or cartoon, so in Japan, they refer to everything animated as anime but outside of the country, anime is nothing Japanese animation. Anime or animation in Japan started way back in the 20th century, but it was only until the 1970’s anime that manga started getting noticed on a much larger scale. Anime movie started growing way bigger than people expected. By 2000 we had multiple classics to celebrate.
We had stuff like Sailor Moon, Gundam, city Hunter, Cowboy Bebop, Dragon Ball, Ghost in The Shell, and many more, too many to count. All of these had a cult following in no time. By 2001, Spirited Away even went on to win an Academy Award.
Why this sudden growth in popularity, why wasn’t this only famous in Japan, why did it transition into other countries?
The answer is simple; anime could do what movies couldn’t. Even back then, anime being made, were only limited by the writer’s imagination. From super-powered aliens fighting each other to Robotic Warfare, anything was possible; if these were released as movies, the amount of money and production that it would need for a single episode to look good would probably be enough to make the whole company go bankrupt.
So, anime was a dream come true for many people. Reality could be whatever they wanted, just like Thanos said. Any concept you could think up could be made into an animation and showed on screens. This just took the world by storm. So an animated series not aimed at kids with the wildest of concepts, people loved it. Although the selling point of anime could have been, it’s the ability to make anything a reality, but what truly sets anime apart from other animated products is its story. No series could compare to its level of story writing.
But an infinite number of movies have wonderful storylines; then what’s the difference? Well, anime has this magical ability to be a part of your life. Being released one episode at a time, you grow with the people you see on screen, and they become your friend. You learn a lot from them, and you really are getting a role model for yourself.
Let’s take the example of Goku from Dragon Ball or Ash from Pokemon. These guys are a part of so many people’s lives; they are iconic people, the legacy they are leaving behind makes them actually human, not just a character from a TV series you watch. The ability to bring these characters to life is the magic the people who work on anime possess.
It’s not just 20 minutes of lavish fights and dumb comedy, there is a story filled with a depth that will just pull you right in, their characters who become your family, and there’s always a life lesson or two you could take away from an anime. There’s anime for everyone, and there is always one show that caters to you, be it some romantic comedy, action drama, plain comedy, dark horror, just anime dark, it’s never-ending, literally a never-ending amount of stories at your disposal.
Let’s go even more in-depth to the world of anime:
A Brief History
Anime properly began in the 20th Century. By 1917, the public had access to these works, manga, and anime. Some of the earliest creators include Seitaro Kitayama, Oten Shimokawa, and more. Katsudo Shashin is believed to be the first-ever Japanese animation, released back in 1907. It was discovered in a collection of films in Kyoto back in 2005, now that’s a real National Treasure. Don’t expect this to be a 12 episode story arc of sorts, and it’s not even close. It doesn’t have any major boss battles or any romance scenes, and the entire animation is only 3 seconds, yes you heard it right 3 seconds. Watch the short video.
The animation consists of a young boy writing kanji characters on the wall, which reads out Katsudo Shashin-Moving Picture. After writing the wording, he faces the viewers, takes off his hat, and bow. Be it just 3 seconds and no spectacular animation, still, those 3 seconds are more than enough to send a chill down an anime lover’s spine. Katsudo Shashin was actually a given title to the animation from what we could see on the video, the actual title and the creator of this is still unknown.
Different types of anime
First off, let’s deal with the rumor that anime is for kids. It’s not! You couldn’t be more wrong, anime is for everyone and anyone.
Anime isn’t just for adults, it isn’t for children, it’s literally for everyone in the sense how some movies are for kids and some are for adults, it’s the same there are different anime for different age groups. Next time when someone you know says, “Hey, you still watch anime? You know that stuff is for kids, right?” please enlighten this human being by showing him some scenes from Full Metal Alchemist, or Naruto or Attack On Titan; he will never be using those phrases to describe it ever again.
You can watch all kinds of anime on the current streaming services like Funimation,Netflix, Crunchyroll, etc. There are mainly 5 types of anime out there: shonen, shojo, seinen, josei, and kodomomuke.
These anime are mainly targeted towards a younger male audience. this is also the most popular of the bunch. Every series under this banner tend to feature a strong, male young man as the protagonist. The series would be filled with jaw-dropping battles, comedy, and sometimes blood and gore. Another trait that many of the anime shares that come under this banner are the personalities of the male protagonists. They always have a deep relationship with the people that surround them. Every one of them would be willing to risk everything and even die for others.
A lot of well-known anime come under the shonen banner. Let’s learn a thing or two about these shonen anime.
This amazing anime created by Akira Toriyama is the perfect embodiment of how great an anime can be. Goku, the main protagonist, is a household name.
Just by looking at the popularity of this anime, we get to know how great it actually is, and the show is a movement, an emotion. Goku is no longer seen as an animated character. It feels like he is someone who actually exists. The show is referenced by millions of people and celebrities. The writing, the concept, the build-ups, the battles, the humor, the drama, everything works with this one, and it’s absolutely iconic.
The story follows Kakarot, or as we call him Goku, as he lives his life trying to save the world and his family and friends from any threats. Dragon Ball was the perfect example of how an anime could inspire the whole world. The battle scenes and power up scenes are something else. The hype we get from this anime is just on another level.
The show has a roster of iconic characters like The best hero ever Goke, his son Gohan, the best villain turned hero ever Vegeta, the best villain Frieza, the best androids; notice how we used the word best before every character. It’s because they are. This show set a benchmark for other anime to follow. The character writing and development couldn’t be matched by any other.
With such iconic and well-written characters and the best concept story of all time, we got one of the best anime to grace humanity. The show has delivered multiple iconic moments like Goku going Super Saiyan for the first time, the father-son Kamehameha, the normal Kamehameha, Beerus using Hakaii, Vegetal yelling it’s over 9000, and many many more. We’d be lying if we say we didn’t try making a Kamehameha when we were younger. Actually, I still do; never lose hope, what if it works!
Another anime from the hall of greats, just like Goku, Naruto is such an inspiration for everyone out there, not just him, every single person from this anime has a story to tell. Naruto has so many things to offer, like spectacular fight scenes, a story so immersive and addictive, the perfect set of villains, but the perfect thing about this anime is the attention they gave to each character.
Every single character in this anime is special, therefore Naruto being the protagonist is just a formality, everyone is the hero. Each character has their own arc and backstory, which is written so beautifully and with care, usually. In most series, writing tends to get sloppy when it comes to side characters, not Naruto.
Every person here is important and plays a significant role throughout; looking back, even if a single character were removed from the list, the anime would be so different and alter so many things. The story follows the lives of ninja in the hidden leaf village. We mainly focus on Naruto Uzumaki, a fired-up ninja who wants to be the next best Hokage, seen as the most powerful ninja in the village.
On the path to being the best, he comes into contact with some of the best characters, and many events unfold which change the course of the entire anime. Even though it has a ton of episodes, the story being this addictive, you would finish the whole thing in a week and would probably regret it not because you didn’t like it, but because you finished something so wonderful the world feels empty, we call it the Naruto after effect.
Some others that fall under the Shonen category is:
Seinen can be translated into a young man. These types of anime are for a little more mature crowd. It can be gruesome, filled with gore and violence, overly sexualized, deep and dark thoughts, etc. These Anime target more of an adult audience, making it not the most popular but the most in-depth and most appreciated story-wise. You cant expect to see any of the basic anime over-the-top comedy in these, but the story is something that would leave you puzzled and literally in awe.
Some examples of anime from this list:
One Punch Man
This is one of the top-rated anime in the world, and it’s such a great watch. The concept of the whole anime is something you would have never thought would transition into being a real story cause right from the start, the story seems boring. The concept goes Saitama, who lives in a near-future city filled with heroes and villains, starts training after some events unfold. He trains for so long and so hard that he literally becomes the strongest person in the universe, how strong? He can defeat any enemy with a single punch. Therefore the name is One Punch Man.
So a story about a hero who can never be defeated and will always win with a single punch, how can such a concept even be a story, he’s too overpowered. Well, that’s where the brilliance of the writers comes in. Indeed, they never deviate from the fact that Saitama cannot win in a single punch, he always wins, but with some other added elements, they keep the enemy fresh and addictive.
Every single time Saitama defeats an opponent, he isn’t given credit. Someone else gets the name for eliminating the threat, even after being the strongest man, luck never seems to be on his side. Only a few know about his strength and hence results in an anime where villains consider Saitama, a weakling and, with huge build-ups, take him on. In the end, he defeats them in one punch in an instant. We don’t know-how, the concept does not get boring, believe it or not. You have to watch this.
Some other seinen anime include:
Ghost In The Shell
This translates into the young girl, therefore it’s the complete opposite of shonen. The protagonist of the story is always female, and the storyline revolves around romance and drama. It is filled with action and comedy but not to the extend of Shonen. We can see some of the best romance anime in this field, planning to watch some Shoujo? Keep tissues nearby. As the translation suggests, this anime targets an audience of teenage girls.
Some of the anime that full under this banner are:
My Little Monster
Just like Shonen has Seinen, Shoujo has Josei. This, just like its opposite, is mainly targetted for an adult female audience, the whole storyline is usually only romance. The drama in these anime can be very high, with plots relating to dark storylines and maybe even some violence and gore. The lead is usually an adult female and would revolve around everyday life. A lot of the anime that fall under this banner would be overly sexualized and would include tons of erotic scenes.
This is a card game anime, wow what’s so special about that? There are dozens of anime with the same exact concept. Well, no, exactly. This isn’t a card game where dragons pop out fighting another dragon or cards with some dep dark powers. This anime is about an actual card game that exists in Japan, one which is true to their culture. We follow Chihaya, a normal teenager who is used to being sidelined by her super popular sister. One day a new friend Arata introduces you to the card game Karuta, a memory-based game where you swipe cards that have the poem which is being recited.
She falls in love with the game and decides that she wants to be the next best Karuta player in Japan. With this traditional card game, her whole life changes, she makes a lot of new friends, and tight bonds are made. As time passes, everyone grows up, reaches high school, and Arata, the one who introduced Chihaya to Karuta, ends up moving away. This causes a rift between everyone, and the whole spirit of the game collapses.
Later Chihaya takes it upon herself to make her promise come true. She starts a new Karuta club at school and makes new friends. At the same time, she also decides to track down Arata. The whole anime is so beautiful, and it doesn’t have any over the top fight scenes, end of the world type of battles, or anything. It has its own beauty, which sets it apart from anything else we have seen. The story brings us so much closer to the ways of Japan, and at the same time, it also has a very addictive romance and drama part to it. Chihaya’s character is written beautifully that there’s nothing you can’t do other than to fall in love with her. That’s not just for Chihaya’s character, and this applies to others as well.
Some of the Josei anime are:
Yuri On Ice
Finally, this is one of the most popular anime banners to exist because their complete target audience only includes children. Yes, these are for kids and kids only, but yeah, anime being anime when it comes to story, comedy, and like the whole thing in general, everyone ends up watching it to have a good time.
None of these would include any types of violence or gore, only some aspects of romance and no sensual content.
It’s filled with comedy, color, and kid-friendly action-packed content. Every single episode of an anime that falls under this category would have a strong moral message for the kids. Yes, this anime has inspired their young viewers, teaching them how to be courageous, be bold, study better, love their family and friends, etc. These anime also serves the purpose of educating kids on various topics. For example, Doraemon, one of the most famous kids’ anime, has been highly appreciated by kids and parents worldwide, making the character an icon.
Kids love it because it’s filled with comedy, fun, and very creative storylines. Like you’d see in any anime, the characters are written beautifully, making it very addictive. Parents love it because the content is so clean and, at the same time, inspires and educates their kids. Every episode would teach them about different important characters in life like loving your friends, helping the weak, and so on. It also educates them on topics like geography, physics, chemistry, maths, and so on. It does all of this while being fun!
Pokemon, another iconic anime, might be one of the biggest and most successful franchises globally. This show has been educating kids for over a decade now, and the hype for it never ceases to exist. Not just kids, every human being falls in love with Pokemon, we all have wished to have a friend like Pikachu.
Some of the anime that falls into this category are:
The only problem is the worth and power of anime cannot be expressed through this article to the fullest, and you have to experience and watch it for yourself. Believe us. It’s worth every second. Happy Watching!