An Essay on Anime and Otakus
One of my favorite anime series Hellsing!
Hellsing cosplay taken by me!
Attack of the Otakus
What is “anime”? I asked myself this as I came across this subject as my research project. “Anime is an English name for the style of art and animation developed by (but no longer exclusively produced by) the Japanese. The word "Anime" is just the Japanese word for animation (of any kind), and it is pronounced "Annie-May"(Marc Marshall). Anime, in a simple sense, is Japanese cartoons. In a more complex and true meaning to anime, its Japanese animation that ranges from children shows to more adult themes. There is a sub-culture to this culture. That sub-culture is something called being an Otaku. Otaku is something like being a comic book nerd or a star wars nerd but not quite. This culture of people hold much love and information for this form of art, Anime.. Anime has a rich history, different meanings on the word Otaku, people that dress up as anime characters, and even people willing to answer surveys on anime!
To understand why Otakus like anime so much, you must go back in time and take a brief look at the founding father and his most famous creation. In a paragraph from The History of Anime and Manga, it says,
"Back in Japan, after World War II, a young aspiring artist named Osamu Tezuka became a cartoonist and released his first work Shintakarajima (known in English as "New Treasure Island"). As a child, Tezuka was a fanatical fan of Walt Disney's early animations. Many were impressed by Tezuka's original style. However, it was not until Tezuka released his ultimate work Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy) that he achieved success; he was pronounced "the Father of Manga and Anime".(Zagzoug)."
Osamu Tezuka led the way for many other anime titles to become big and successful. One famous anime is known in the US is called Sailor Moon. It was released in the early 90’s and became very popular. “Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon is a story about a klutzy, crybaby, 14 year old underachiever named Tsukino Usagi who was given some transformation items and super powers.”(Doi). One more famous one and most recent anime to hit America by storm is called Naruto. It is a story about kid that wants to be a great ninja. “In a concealed village, a young man hides within a bunch of leaves. His name is Uzumaki Naruto, a mischievous boy attending Ninja Academy.”(Kaworu S.). He is also accredited with creating one of anime’s most famous staples, characters with big, round eyes. Animeworld.com states, “…he said he was emulating Betty Boop, who was popular in Japan at the time. Other early US-produced animated characters that predate the anime style also have very large eyes (if you look, Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse have huge eyes).”(Marc Marshall). All of these things mentioned were huge successes in Japan and America.
Now that we know some famous anime titles, we will get into what Otaku truly means. In the United States, the meaning of Otaku is very different from what it means in Japan. In the US, it means a big anime fan. Urban Dictionary writes, “In America, the term is used to denote a zealous fan, usually of anime and/or manga ...otaku" tends to have a much less dire definition overseas”(Cobweb) This means that the US audience mistook the true meaning of this word. It is less brutal than what it means in Japan. If you are talking about this word in Japan, it means something completely bad. Urban dictionary has a good definition for Otaku in Japan, “Otaku is the honorific word of Taku (home). Otaku is extremely negative in meaning as it is used to refer to someone who stays at home all the time and doesn't have a life (no social life, no love life, etc)”(death_to_all). This basically means the person that is named an Otaku stays at home. It is more than that, it also means that that person stays at home and only leaves home for food or some other necessity in Japan. Also, if it is a child or teenager, than this would mean he or she would never leave their room. In the Anime world of Japan, it also means that a person is so caught up with anime related things, that that person has no life or loved one. Another way they look at it is being called a nerd with nothing better else to do than watch anime. This is an extremely negative thing to say to a Japanese person and can even cause fights if the person is not correctly educated. So if you ever see a Japanese boy or girl, do not ever call them an Otaku with a smile on your face, you can get in trouble like that.
Now you know the ins and outs of what an Otaku is, let me explain the ultimate fan’s homage to an anime character, Cosplaying. Teenspace.com puts it well by stating, “Cosplay is a term that originated in Japan but is based on the English words “Costume Play,” essentially play-acting in costumes.”( Brehm-Heeger). Anime fans actually craft costumes or buy them online of their favorite anime character and wear them to anime conventions. Anime conventions are conventions were fans from all around gather to talk about anime, buy anime merchandise, show off their costume, and just have fun. Everyone can cosplay. Young people, old people, boys and girls all dress up as characters. Some people even cross dress. For example, in Sailor Moon, they are an all girl team. It is not uncommon for a man to dress up as a sailor scout, which would mean they would wear a girl school uniform. These people proudly wear it with no shame. I personally think that fans that Cosplay are respectable because of their wanting to show off their devotion to a particular anime. I have two examples of cosplayers on page seven of this paper. There are two types of cosplayers, basic cosplay and Masquerade. According to Paula Brehm-Heeger:
"CosPlaying can be divided into two categories: basic cosplay and Masquerade. While basic cosplay only involves an attempt to look like a particular character, either in the halls of a convention or on stage, Masquerade is much more involved. When masquerading, CosPlayers attempt to act as the character would. They often have prepared skits with memorized lines, and the more advanced masqueraders can easily ad-lib their character’s personality. (What is Cosplay?)."
In conclusion, what is anime? Anime is a lot to many types of people. None are wrong or right. Anime is a subculture that has a subculture too it as well. People watch it and dress up as characters from what they watched. Anime is a fascinating hobby to take up because of the vast genres and age groups that can enjoy something that belongs to anime. Being an Otaku is being a fan. It is a subject that has many levels to explore but it all ends the same way in the end, it’s just plain fun!
Work Cited Page
Brehm-Heeger, Paula ”What is Cosplay” Teenspace. The Public Library of Cincinnati. 29 Nov. 2007
Cobweb. Urban Dictionary. 23 Feb. 2005. 29 Nov. 2007
Death_to_all. Urban Dictionary.07 Apr. 2003. 29 Nov. 2007
Doi, Hitoshi. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon. 17 Jul. 2005. 30 Nov. 2007
Marshall, Marc. Akemi’s Anime World. 09 Dec. 2006. 29 Nov 2007
S., Kaworu. Naruto. 03 May. 2007. 30 Nov. 2007
Zagzoug, Marwah. The History of Anime and Manga. Apr 2001. 29 Nov. 2007 http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/evans/his135/Events/Anime62/Anime62.html