What are Anime
What Is An ''Anime''
Anime are becoming more and more popular all over the world. But the anime and manga subculture can still seem a little strange or obscure with people not used to watching anime. This is why I've made this page explaining briefly what are anime and how it's different from the other forms of entertainment.
The Word ''Anime''
What Are Anime
Anime, while some people may not know what it is when hearing the word for the first time, pretty much everybody can guest that it has something to do with animation and they could not be more right. In fact, the word anime is an abbreviation of the word animation. In Japanese animation is pronounced ''animÃ©shon'' so when talking about Japanese anime the right way to pronounce the word would be to say it like a French language person would: ''animÃ©''.
When Japanese people use the term anime it is to refer to any type of animation from anywhere around the world. For them, the Lion King is an anime just like Naruto or Dragon Ball are. It's outside Japan that people began using the word anime to mark the difference between Japanese animation and other type of animation. For this text we will use the western definition of the word anime that describes it as Japanese style animation.
So why did the western audience feel the need to use another word in order to differentiate Japanse style animation and animation from the rest of the world. Well the reason to that is that there are a number of differences between Japanese anime and standard animation and that distinguish them a lot from one another
Anime Visual Characteristics
What Are Anime
One thing that differentiate Japanese anime from other type of animation is their aesthetic. Anime studios and creators all have their different style and no anime is really the same as another one visually, but anime in general share a few elements that characterise them. One of the main features that most anime share is the way they exaggerate the physical features of the characters. A lot of anime characters have big eyes, a body that is not proportionate, exaggerated hair style or expression. The visual style of anime share a lot of its characteristics with the way manga (Japanese comics) are drawn, this is partly due to the fact that a lot of anime are based off manga.
Here are a few videos of people drawing anime or manga characters and scenes. If you've never seen an anime this might give you a hint as to what it looks like.
Of course not all anime share those characteristics, but the majority does. Anime are greatly influenced by manga, but also by Japanese painting, calligraphy, writing and other form of Japanese art.
Anime Themes & Genres
What Are Anime
Most animation shows and movie in North America and Europe are aimed at a younger audience, but that is not necessarily the case for Japanese animation. People from 7 to 77 can enjoy anime and the reason for that is that this medium has touched a great number of subject and themes. Some anime are not even suitable for children and should only be watched by adults. When watching an anime you will often see information about the genre and the demographic group it's aimed at. The word used to describe the targeted demographic are in Japanese and can be a little confusing for someone who's not used to seeing them. The age groups are separated in 5 sections: kids (aimed at kids), shounen (aimed at teen boys), shoujo (aimed at teen girls), seinen (aimed at adult men) and josei (aimed at adult women). Of course this separation does not stop any adult from watching an anime aimed a teen or kids, it's just a guideline in order to help the consumer choose which anime they want to watch more easily because most of the time animes in the same demographic group share characteristics in their story and character design.
Other than the demographic separation, anime are also filtered by their genre. These genre are mostly the same as in any other form of entertainment. There are sports anime, some more action or adventure oriented, romance anime or even pornographic one. Whatever your interest is you can almost be sure that there was an anime made about it. Whether you like chess, love stories, mysteries, space themed show, computers or anything else there is probably an anime about it. I think that that part of the reason why anime has been so popular around the world is because it has a wide selection of subjects to choose from.
What Are Anime
Now for those of you who feel like watching an anime and experiencing firsthand what it's like, do not worry you don't have to go all the way to Japan to do that. As a matter of fact a great number of anime have been big success overseas and you've probably already seen one without even knowing it. Pokemon, Saylor Moon, Dragon Ball and Naruto are a few examples of anime that have been big success outside Japan, but they are not the only anime out there. More mature one like Death Note or Code Geass have also crossed the sea and made of name for themselves around the world. A lot of anime are available on DVD or Blu-ray for the western audience and in many languages and if the anime you want to watch is not dubbed in your mother tongue than you can also watch a sub version of it. A few legal streaming sites also stream anime that they have acquired a licence for like Crunchyroll or Funimation, some anime are even available through Netflix.
So now that you know that you can find yourself an anime to watch on TV, at your local video store and also on the internet the only thing left to do is to find an anime that suit your taste and try it out. Every season a lot of new anime are released so there is always something new and interesting to watch in the world of anime.
Here I've put several videos of people talking about their favourite and the most populars anime out there. Check it out it might help you make a choice about what you want to watch.