Rules of Anime
Making an anime or manga sounds pretty difficult. Or at least I used to think so. Barring any artistic talent though, I can still come up with some pretty good stories. I've submersed myself in enough animes and mangas over the years to realise just what it takes to make a good storyline. It's kind of like the zombie rules, or the slasher-flick rules or any other formulaic show, really.
Just follow these simple rules, and you're well on your way to creating a future phenomenon!
Rule #1: Every Name Must Be in Japanese!
This is of the utmost importance. Let's say you're writing about a Japanese Spy, then it would make sense that he and all of his colleagues would be Japanese, right? Now, let's say he was on a mission to - oh, I don't know - Mexico. Every single Mexican must have a Japanese name, like Yoshitama, or Fujin, or whatever. There cannot be a single "Juan" without a Japanese name.
In every Anime I watch that has an American exchange student, they always seem to have a Japanese name in the original language. And don't let shows like Pokémon or Sailor Moon fool you. The names were changed for American audiences. Most contemporary animes keep the original names of the characters.
Rule #2: Don't Be Original
Recently, Marvel signed a deal with Japanese production company Madhouse ro re-imagine many of the marvel characters for Japanese audiences. In fact, Marvel gave Madhouse free-reign and total creative control over the project.
Additionally, I wrote a short while ago about sentai shows. When it boils down to it, Sailor Moon, Samurai Pizza Cats, and Super Sentai are all pretty much the same thing? What have we learned? If it works for them, it can work for you too. Slice of life also has many similarities: A group of mismatched people all hanging out together? Kind of like a sitcom. We know what to expect when watching Big Bang Theory or Two and a Half Men.
Originality tends to be pretty frowned upon in anime, for whatever reason. Just go with the flow.
The complete uncut first season of the classic series. Including scenes deemed too 'graphic' for North American audiences. Japanese language, English subtitles. This is Sailor Moon as it was meant to be seen
Rule #3: Go Big or Go Home
In the sci-fi genre of anime, this is where creativity is allowed. It's a constant game of one-upmanship. You still don't mess with the characters or the setting, but the general idea is to make thing even more unrealistic than the previous sci-fi cartoon. Time travelers? Done that. Espers (Someone who uses ESP) been there before. Aliens? Only in just about every single show out there. All three hanging out? Now we've got Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
But we still have to make it bigger! This is where the "science" in "science fiction" gets tossed aside for pure fiction. Just throw in some words to make it sound "science-ish" and see what we come up with? I know, how about instead of parallel universes, we go through parallel times? Now let's have the main character involved in a yaoi type of love affair with a robot? Now we've got a story!
Rule #4: The Role of Women
This is the rule I wish was broken more often, but even in many shojo (shows and comics where the target audience is women), there is a severe lack in leading ladies. In general, leading and even major supporting female roles tend to be either
- ditzy or clumsy
- a total b****
- all of the aforementioned.
However, this is where it gets a bit tricky. A female character who only shows up once in a while will almost always a be a strong, smart, able person. Almost always surpassing the lead character - even male lead characters.
While there is a need for more strong female characters, it just seems there's not much place for them in anime.
Examples of shows that have typical female leads or typical major supporting females:
- Sailor Moon
- Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
- Oh My Goddess
Strong female characters in anime:
- Tsuruya (Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya): Smart, athletic, friendly. Appears in a handful of episodes as Asahina's best friend
- Adult Asahina: (Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya): Strong-willed. Worked hard to get where she's at. Drops by in our timeline every now and then (only twice in the series, for a total screen time of less than ten minutes), and plays the strongest role in the movie.
- Megumi (Oh My Goddess) : Keichi's sister. Genuinely smart, genuinely caring for others, genuinely pretty independent (except for the frequent swinging by Keichi's for breakfast). Other than the breakfasts, this is one girl who can take care of herself better than any of the other characters in the show - male, female, or deity.
Keichii Morisato is the unluckiest guy on the Nekomi Tech Campus, until one day the goddess Belldandy appears before him to grant him one wish.
Rule #5: When in Doubt, Go Questing
If you're stuck in a rut, make your characters go on a long wild goose chase, and then find out that what they were looking for was right under their noses the entire time. By the time they've figured it out, maybe your case of writers block will have passed.
So what are you waiting for? Go out there and create the next big thing, and you'll be big - or at least you'll be big in Japan.