An Overview of Japanese Animation
What is Anime?
Anime is Japanese Animation. More specifically, anime is animation created in Japan. Japan has had a history of producing cartoons since the 60’s, but the term “anime” wasn’t applied to it until much later. Anime refers to all forms of animation made in Japan or by Japanese people around the world, including adult-oriented works and television shows that are based on manga (Japanese comic books). The first anime was known as “Manga Shoujo” (“Cartoons for Young Girls”) and aired during World War II as a way to encourage patriotism in young girls. The first full-length anime film was released shortly after WWII ended – 1945’s Momotarou Umi No Shinpei (“Momotarou: Divine Soldier”) by Mitsuyo Seo (who also produced Gulliver’s Travels Beyond The Moon). People often confuse anime with “manga”, but they are not synonymous terms even though both have their origins in Japan. They are similar mediums that both have their roots within modern-day Japan, however there are differences between them just like there are differences between American Comics and Graphic Novels versus Cartoons. Just because something is animated doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an anime – just like just because something is filmed doesn’t necessarily mean its a movie! So let me rephrase my opening question…
What can be considered “anime”?
Well. I want to buy some demon slayer jewelry, so it’s time to go shopping!
To answer this question more seriously, you need to know how the term anime is interpreted. If we were to say that “all animation made in Japan and by Japanese people around the world” is anime, then we’re including a lot of things that aren’t really considered anime (like “Pokémon” and “Digimon”). On the other hand, if we say that anything with a Japanese cultural influence or based off of a manga or light novel (Japanese comic book/novel) is automatically considered as anime… well… what about works like Akira? The truth is, there isn’t an official definition for what constitutes as an ‘anime’.
There are many different types of animation from Japan you could consider as ‘anime’, but it all depends on your definitions. However, I personally don’t think that there should be a standard definition for all types of animation from Japan because it would narrow down too much things into one category. An example I have heard at least once before was this: If someone said they liked “anime” – would they mean “Pokemon” or something more serious? In reality though, most people who watch ‘anime’ aren’t looking for something ultra-realistic – but rather something with characters who have human emotions and characteristics despite being non-human creatures. Therefore, labeling everything as ‘anime’ is a bit of a broad term that doesn’t really have a standard definition.
Movies, TV Shows, and OAVs
If you want to know what is considered anime by the general public these days, then I would say it’s anything made in Japan or by Japanese people around the world. This includes animated series from Japan or American cartoons that are based off of manga/light novels from Japan. Many people have said this isn’t correct because “American comics aren’t technically cartoons”… but I disagree with this point of view. In America we have the terms “comics” and “cartoons” – two distinct mediums with different characteristics and uses. For example: One is more adult oriented (comics) while one is geared towards children (cartoons). Although both comprise of short stories like Aesop’s fables or nursery rhymes (whereas manga can cover any kind of subject matter), only one comes under those same terms as those used in Japanese animation.
In other words, one is a comic and the other is a cartoon. In Japan though, the terms “comics” and “manga” are often used interchangeably… because even thought both have their roots in Japan, they are different mediums that have different uses. Anime can be considered as a mix of both comics and cartoons – but should not be considered as the same thing as either of them!
To further explain this point: The word “anime” literally means ‘animation’ in Japanese (the English-language definition), whereas manga means ‘comic book’. So technically speaking, the Japanese use the term anime to refer to all animation made in Japan or by Japanese people around the world. However, there’s also an additional meaning for anime which refers exclusively to animation made specifically for adults (as opposed to kid-oriented animation). This type of anime is often referred to as hentai (“pervert”)… but this has nothing to do with actual pornography! It’s just an extra meaning for anime that refers specifically to adult-oriented animation; For example: Hentai Ouji To Warawanai Neko (“Perverted Prince And The Unwilling Cat”) or Hentai Ouji To Warawa Naru Neko Ni Kau Se O Shite Kuremasu Ka? (“Should I Give Up On Being A Cat?”) – two short films directed by Hayao Miyazaki.
I hope you have an understanding of what anime is after reading this. I also hope that the next time you go to a convention, you’ll know exactly what kind of things can be considered as ‘anime’! Thank you for reading this article, and please feel free to leave a comment or question if there’s something that concerns you.
If there’s something that confuses you about anime, then read on! If there’s one thing I love doing more than writing about Japan, it’s discussing Japanese culture with people from around the world.
Manga Shoujo (“Cartoons for Young Girls”) was the first type of modern-day animation from Japan… and was used as propaganda during World War II. In other words: It was used to encourage young girls to fight in WWII by “making them into better citizens” through cartoon characters who participated in war efforts on behalf of their country. The first full-length animated film produced in Japan – Momotarou: Divine Soldier (1945) – basically told a story about war against an invading enemy with a fairly simplistic plot which wasn’t very original but still managed to attract viewers at the time because it had never been done before.”