why i watch anime… to Experience, for Entertainment, or to just pass the time.
The word “anime”, contrary to popular belief, is not the Japanese word for animation. Though the word is used in Japan to describe animation, it is actually derived from a French word. Anime in the U.S. refers specifically to Japanese animation, which in and of itself is a unique style of storytelling and film making. In the United States, where animation and film are separated mediums, in Japan they are one in the same. The cinematography and further elements of professional film making are all used in the animated films that are created in Japan. Unlike the United States, which is due to the public perception that animation is for children (the reason for this is an essay in and of itself), anime in Japan is made for all types of audiences including children, adolescents, and adults. There are categories of anime and manga (Japanese comic) for girls, boys, young girls, young boys, adolescent boys, and adolescent girls, conservative adults, non-conservative adults and so on. The subjects of anime range from history (past and future), to fantasy, dramatic, science fiction, popular culture, cyber-reality, adult, action, romance, political, and more.
In other words, for every category that there is for live action films, there is one for anime.
One of the MAJOR differences between anime and U.S. animation is the quality of storytelling and level of understanding at which the story develops. Though things are changing in the U.S., the majority of animation is geared at young minds and actually are almost insulting to those young minds in the treatment of the story. Anime expands upon the regions once only explored by live action films, by incorporating heavy themes of drama, powerful emotional conflicts and character development and relationships. In certain types of anime people do die, and people do suffer from those losses. In certain types of anime there is great violence, rape, and brutality, corruption and realism. In certain types of anime there is sex, twisted perceptions of pleasure and pain, mixtures of fantasies and hellish retribution. In certain types of anime there is love and loss, great struggle and moving passion, realizations of ones self worth and commitment to the family structure. There are powerful women heroines who stand on their own without the aid of muscle bound men. There are feeble men who collapse under pressure and show their fear, passion, and vulnerabilities. There are heavy religious connotations, powerful speeches about humanity, the future of technology, and politics. All of these elements and more can be found wrapped up in some of the most amazingly artistic, detailed, and revolutionary animation ever seen.
In many ways anime is also a state of mind; a state of understanding that many Americans have trouble getting to. The realization that animation is an acceptable medium for dramatic story telling and not something meant only for children and political satire, is a concept that the American public may never reach which is the one of the main reasons why anime has not struck powerfully in the U.S. The other main reason is that the media has a twisted perception of Japanese animation, believing that it is all sex and violence (the opposite of the wholesome children’s animation of the United States) and hasn’t expanded its reach into the truth about this wonderful realm of animation. It is these misinformed perceptions and lack of cooperation amongst anime fans that have kept anime very much an underground genre.(although it has grown over the last few years)
What it comes down to is this. See it. All of it. Not just the sex and the violence. Not just the science fiction and the sword and sorcery. Not just the heavy drama or historical accounts. See it all. Experience it all as much as you can in both subtitled and dubbed format. Experience the Japanese language and the English adaptations. That is the only way for you to know what anime is all about…