Wednesday, 7 March 2007

A few misconceptions about anime

So a friend of mine saw me watching anime the other night. Of course, he asked what it was, what it was about etc. He is one of the more open-minded ones. There is a lot of prejudice about anime that goes around, and a lot of misconceptions. My friend was nice enough to actually ask things about anime, many wouldn't, and would instead recite some spiel that they had 'read on the internet somewhere.' I'll try to clear a few of the false ideas up here. This list is by no means exhaustive.

1. Anime is for kids. This is one of the biggest and most common. I think it's actaully an understandable mistake. Anime is inevitably seen as Japanese 'cartoons', and cartoons are very much a thing for kids here. I think it doesn't help that the only well-known anime (outside of anime circles) in the west are kids shows that get put on. You know the drill, right? Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, DragonBall Z. I will admit that at one time or another I have had love affairs with all of these (except DBZ, which was broadcast before my time, leaving me to read the manga). However, there can be no doubt that the demographic they are aimed at (once they have been dubbed, edited and butchered by western distribution companies) is about 8-15. People seeing them will inevitably assume that all anime is for children.

2. All anime is violent or sexually explicit. This is the other end of the spectrum, and it comes from looking at the other sort of anime that is often translated. You see popular and well-known anime like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Neon Genesis Evangelion. These are far more adult, they all contain at least some nudity and are all pretty violent. This mis-conception is less widespread than the first, but it is there. This misconception is also aided by the massive amount of hentai available over the interwebs at the click of a mouse button.

3. Anime can't be an art form. People who think this are taking misconception 1 to it's most logical conclusion I guess. However, it can be refuted with four words, Grave of the Fireflies. I dare anyone to watch that film and tell me that anime can't be art, can't provoke thought, can't showcase a range of human emotions.

4. Anime has only one style. Again, there are similarities in the style of many anime, especially the way that they are drawn. There is the whole big eyes thing (which is actually fairly limited), a lot of people are turned off by the typical, hyper-deformed reactions. You know what I mean? Where the characters go all chibi and throw hissy-fits. These are seen a lot in well-known anime. Many serious series, however, wouldn't touch them with a 10-foot stick.

5. Anime is a single genre. This misconception is not one that I understand. Anime covers so many different ideas, genres and styles that I honestly don't know how it came about. Right now for example, casting a cursory glance at my anime DVDs, I could watch a serious sci-fi character study (Stellvia of the Universe), a long fantasy/steampunk series (Fullmetal Alchemist), an absurd comedy about teenagers in high-school (Azumanga Daioh), a mecha-fantasy series with religious overtones (The Vision of Escaflowne), a thoughtfull series about the human condition with overtones of cyberpunk (Paranoia Agent), A plain fantasy series (Scrapped Princess) or an introspective mecha sci-fi series (Neon Genesis Evangelion). That represents maybe a quarter of my total collection of anime, and is just what I brought to university this term. However, it represents maybe 1% of the total genres out there, which range from light-hearted ecchi harem comedies like Love Hina, to deeply philosophical thought experiments such as Haibane Renmei.

Well, I won't go into any more detail now, principally as I can't be bothered, but also because I'm hungry. If you like what I said, post a comment. If you don't like what I said, tell me. If you have experienced misconceptions such as these, I'd love to hear about them.

1 comment:

goku354 said...

so true man! especially about grave of the frieflies, that film made me cry. and im macho and all. :D

My friend says that they play it every year in japan on Hiroshima day.

I guess it still resonates for them.