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Anime gets deeply ingrained in pop culture. This form of animation, which began in Japan, has become a worldwide sensation, molding and entertaining the next generation. Many adults watching their kids consume Japanese shows and get immersed may make them feel weird or mystified. Even children themselves may get confused by the bizarre anime niches their classmates and friends follow.
You will learn everything you need to know about anime in this article. You may also share this with your fellow parents, friends, and colleagues who want to understand the anime subculture. Everything you will read here comes from different perspectives—from experts, observers, and anime fans themselves.
What is anime?
Anime came from “animation,” based on how Japanese speakers shortened this word. Anime’s distinct style and aesthetic got born in 1956 when Japanese artists created novel-like comic books called manga. These volumes not only reflected Japanese visual tastes. These also applied to the island nation’s adventure narratives and folk traditions. Eventually, the art form got converted into television shows. One notable example is Princess Mononoke, a 1997 fantasy anime about 16th-century Japan.
This local Japanese style attracted both young and old viewers elsewhere worldwide in the following years. Shows like Naruto, the Pokemon franchise, and Dragonball helped propel anime to its present fame. Now, parents who grew up with anime introduce anime to their children.
Although these shows were in Japanese, translators interpret anime in their local languages. This way, anime will get appreciated even more by the masses. Nonetheless, millions of fans love the original version while reading the subtitles. Some even learn to understand Japanese out of their love of anime!
Most observers misunderstand anime as a genre on its own because of its distinct look and direction. But anime shows differ from other cartoons and animations based on their production style.
Anime has several subcategories like any other medium like love stories, comedies, horror, and fantasy, for example.
Why is anime so popular?
Anime (and its written manga counterpart) reached the fame they enjoy worldwide. It first became a cultural treasure for Japan. These art styles translate Japanese consciousness and identity for the youth. Perhaps, it is the first reason why anime is famous: Japanese culture is captivating in itself. Anime shows Japan’s myths, traditions, folk tales, values, and history for everyone interested.
Anime also caters to different age groups. Someone can easily assume that it is simply a Japanese cartoon for children. But the plots of famous anime shows are rich with unpredictable stories and twists. They also have relatable characters that portray heroism, charm, wittiness, and strength. Children and teenagers may look at anime protagonists as role models during their moldable age.
Nostalgia is a crucial ingredient for anime’s success too. Many adults today grew up with anime franchises like Yu-Gi-Oh, Sailor Moon, and Detective Conan, to name a few.
So they can rekindle their intimate childhood memories by re-watching their favorite anime shows, buying merchandise, cosplaying, and telling their kids about these shows. Online shopping and streaming services have made it easier than ever to do these.
Regarding its artistry, anime’s unique style is appealing to non-Japanese audiences. Westerners, for example, grew up with conventional cartoons and comic books featuring Archie or Superman. But anime’s sensational and over-the-top style may excite their readers more. Given its Asian flavor, anime is fresh to the tastes of Americans and Europeans.
On a more sinister note, Japan’s population decline compels anime producers and writers to make their shows more applicable to Western viewers. This factor, in turn, makes anime more grounded on what foreigners expect.
But, most importantly, anime is so popular because it is mostly excellent. Iconic anime shows know how to excite, compel, and make the viewers fall in love with them. Loyal anime watchers can binge have hundreds of episodes spanning decades with beautifully crafted plots and character development.
Furthermore, there is an anime series for you based on your interests. If you are a musician, you will like Your Lie in April. Action fans will enjoy Ghost in the Shell, while anime viewers who want comedy may try watching Fruits Basket. There are even series about famous literature like Gankutsuou (based on The Count of Monte Cristo) and Castlevania (from Dracula).
What are the most iconic anime shows?
For over sixty decades, anime has entertained millions of people worldwide. These are some of the anime shows that stood out:
- Fairy Tail, which ran from 2009 to 2016, shows the journey of the Fairy Tail guild to find a legendary dragon. Most fans say that Fairy Tail emphasizes friendship and loyalty among the characters.
- Death Note got released from 2003 to 2006. Because of Death Note’s fame, even after its run, Netflix also made a mini-series based on this anime series in 2015. The show is about a notebook where anyone who writes on it will die.
- Naruto ran for fifteen years, and some people estimate that it will take you eleven entire days to finish the series. This anime is about Naruto Uzumaki, a ninja who wants to become a village leader.
Is anime bad for kids?
Most parents get concerned about anime’s portrayal of sexuality. It is true that many shows obscenely exaggerate sexual body parts. Other shows also promote intense violence and gore. But remember that not all anime series are pornographic or distressing. Many anime shows even promote admirable values!
Anime is simply an animation style; it has multiple genres and subcategories like every other art form. The bottom line is that parents should supervise what anime series their children watch. These are some strategies that parents can do to make sure that their children have a healthy anime viewing experience:
- Put nude scenes in anime into context. In Japan, they do not treat nudity as malicious in non-sexual settings. Such parts get removed by Western authorities. But viewing the original Japanese anime versions may still contain such scenes.
- Know your kid’s preferred anime shows. Doing this will help you understand your child’s perspective in choosing what to watch. It will also guide you in supervising him. Moreover, he will appreciate his parent showing interest in what he likes. Who knows, maybe you will end up watching anime together!
- Download the anime shows that you think are appropriate. The Internet is a dangerous place for children. To protect your child from restricted anime sites, provide him with a show that he can watch.
- View the first episodes of the series your child wants to watch. This strategy will help determine if the show contains foul language, explicit content, and adult material.
- Look at the show’s poster and rating. If the anime thumbnail includes suggestive poses, revealing clothing, and exaggerated female body parts, that show is not for your kid. Do not allow your child to watch anime rated as mature, restricted, or for viewers over 18.
What is the difference between anime and cartoons?
Calling anime “Japanese cartoons” can insult the most hardcore anime fans. After all, they do not want their beloved anime shows to get compared with Tom and Jerry or Hello Kitty. But it is technically correct. Anime means “animation” with a distinctly Japanese flavor and aesthetic. So in this section, we will differentiate anime and mainstream Western cartoons.
Definition. The word cartoon refers to visual art that portrays real-world objects with varying degrees of realism. This two-dimensional craft can either be a still image or an animated video. Anime, therefore, is a subset of cartoons. This Japanese art form includes television shows and films with the familiar anime illustration style. Examples of famous anime series include Inuyasha, Beyblade, and Bakugan.
Design. Cartoon illustrators do not follow specific proportions for their characters. They may also choose to distort their body parts. For example, the characters in Phineas and Ferb have geometric heads and popping eyes. On the other hand, anime has specific conventions regarding the characters’ looks and behaviors. While anime looks closer to reality than cartoons (in general, at least), anime illustrators make the characters’ eyes larger and their mouths smaller. They also have longer limbs and standing hair.
Themes. In the West, mainstream cartoons get aimed at children and young teenagers. So these shows typically involve humor, satire, and comical conflicts. But anime is more authentic and realistic. It often involves raw emotions, intense challenges, and life issues. Many anime shows even include violence, sex, and drugs.
Expressions. As stated earlier, cartoons exaggerate funny moments and behaviors to make people laugh. Cartoon superhero shows, meanwhile, emphasize the characters’ strength and the villains’ wickedness. But anime brings scene delivery to a deeper level. Anime also overstates the characters’ voices, reactions, facial expressions, and mental self-talk. It is like the art style of manga.
Anime and manga introduced new symbols to emphasize emotion. A large sweat drop appears on their heads if they are shy or nervous (similar to the popular emoji). Each character has a “face fault” look when they get shocked. Meanwhile, a cross-like “anger mark” appears on their exaggerated faces when angry. When they tease another character, they show an “akanbe,” where they pull down their eyelid and stick out their tongue.
Length. Most cartoons shown on Cartoon Network or Disney can run from five minutes (for short skits, for example) to forty-five minutes (for longer episodes). Cartoon movies can also last for over an hour. Anime includes different genres and show types, so anime has a similar range.
Country of origin. As stated many times in this article, anime came from Japan. But cartoons are made in every country around the world.
Is anime popular among teens?
Yes, anime and its written counterpart, manga, are popular among teenagers now. While many people believe that cartoons are only for children, anime provides entertainment and excitement to its viewers; many of them are young adults. Anime also encompasses so many genres and niches that anyone can pick a series based on their specific preferences.
Peer pressure also contributes to anime’s fame. Since most teenagers seek validation from their friends and classmates, they try what is trendy around them. Anime bonds them together into an expressive community of fans. They also express their love of anime by buying merchandise, costumes, and manga. In turn, anime fans promote their favorite franchises to other kids. Some even find new friends through anime.
The cultural impact of anime on the youth understandably worries parents and teachers. Although there is sparse research on this issue, some studies show that teenagers do not think anime impacts their behavior. In 2011, one of the leading universities in Malaysia conducted interviews with anime fans.
Most of them disagreed that anime makes them aggressive, violent, or hurtful. But they do pick up habits and beliefs from what they watch.
Anime will stay a dominant cultural force for the next generations. Multi-billion-dollar streaming services and franchising empires will continue to reign over the culture, churning out shows and merchandise for anime fans. Therefore, parents and educators must stay mindful of anime’s influence on the children under their care.
Is anime an addiction?
Anime can become an addiction. While anime can entertain and uplift its viewers, abusing anime and compulsively watching these shows are disastrous. Doing these can lead to poor grades, health, and social interactions.
The impact of anime addiction is more visible and destructive because most anime consumers are teenagers. They go through intense stress from high school education and peer pressure during this stage. So anime becomes their escape, causing a sense of dopamine rush in their brains. If this happens excessively and irresponsibly, addiction might follow.
Worse, they become vulnerable to harmful forms like anime. Shows that promote lewdness and problematic behaviors end up corrupting them with perverse beliefs about relationships and the treatment of women.
Like any good thing in life, moderation is vital. Responsible viewing behavior towards anime is critical to avoid addiction and its damaging consequences. Anime consumers must also carefully choose what to watch. Meanwhile, parents and teachers should not antagonize the entire anime industry because this can push children into a negative loop of dangerous anime shows and behaviors.
Does anime increase your IQ?
No, watching anime will not increase your intelligence quotient. However, you can learn and practice new skills associated with anime. For example, anime fans get immersed more in the Japanese language, culture, and lifestyle. Japan is among the leading nations in robotics, manufacturing, technology, and diplomacy. Therefore, anime can introduce you to promising job prospects.
Anime can also show you new hobbies and pastime ideas. These shows often depict art, fitness, music, fighting skills, and cuisine. Perhaps, some of these niches can fuel your curiosity to discover new interests and master more talents.
What does watching anime do to your brain?
We can begin this section by asking, “What do you consume to feed your brain?” Junk food can harm the body and stunt its growth, but perverse shows can ruin your character, beliefs, and perception of reality. We have seen how advertising hypnotized the masses into consumerism and excessive consumption.
Companies and political parties also tap into human nature, causing brand loyalty and an us-versus-them mentality. What about anime? How does it drive the culture and the mindset of the new generations that watch it?
Because of its origins, anime uses Japanese tradition and identity as its framework. This art form stands on Asian collectivism, perseverance, respect, courage, and the appreciation of wisdom. Hence, many anime shows emphasize helpfulness, tight friendships, teaching others, generosity, and loyalty. Many Western anime fans might not even be aware of these powerful messages. But they absorb these values in a fresher yet less-preachy manner.
The lessons that wholesome anime shows teach resonate powerfully in the West because they stand against the culture of excess. The United States, for example, is an individualistic nation where children tend to become less attached to their parents as they grow older. On the contrary, anime portrays how friends and the whole village should support one another without asking for a favor in return. These shows also evoke minimalism, the value of simplicity, and appreciation of the simple joys of each day.
But anime is far from perfect. While it promotes values, it also portrays harmful messages that can influence children without proper guidance. Many anime shows pander to teenagers’ sexual desires by emphasizing women’s private body parts and giving them bizarre expressions. Objectifying women and sexism have always been a problem in anime, leading youth to Japanese pornographic videos, novels, and manga.
If you choose to consume anime to feed your mind, stay aware and alert about the messages you will gain from these animations. Pick up the valuable traits that the characters embody, such as courage, patience, thoughtfulness, and productivity. But reject harmful anime shows that will hijack your senses into lust and decadence. By staying mindful about what you like to watch, anime can contribute to your character and principles.
Enjoy watching anime, but make sure to stay responsible about it.