Japanese animation

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The Japanese animation industry has attracted much interest in the West, with English-speaking fans avidly adopting Japanese terminology such as anime (short for "animation", but used almost exclusively to refer to animated features originating from Japan) and even otaku (derogatory term meaning "obsessive fan").

The best known anime director in Japan is Hayao Miyazaki, founder of Studio Ghibli and famous for "My Neighbor Totoro," "Spirited Away," and "Princess Mononoke."

As in the West, Japanese animation tends to follow Japanese comic book styles (called manga). An author/illustrator of a manga is called a manga-ka. Many anime begin as manga in magizines such as Weekly Shounen Jump, one of the most popular compilations in Japan.

In recent years, the translation process of anime and manga has come under criticism for the process of "Americanization". This process is the editing of the original works so that they can be more acceptable for the American public. Episodes are known to be shortened to add more time for commercials. Religious influences and homosexuality are removed so that anime can be shown and marketed to younger audiences. Some directors adopt a policy of "no cuts", where their works cannot be altered and are more literal translations. If this condition is not met, the director will not allow his work to be translated. Some groups of Bilingual speakers have, thus, taken to providing 'unofficial' translations for the general public, uploaded to the internet for free. This was one of the major controversies of the SOPA bill that was recently a major issue.

Many of Anime's genres fall into the following categories:

Shonen (少年)- Japanese for young boy, Shounen is the most popular genre in Japan and the most well known outside the country. Aimed at young teen boys, Shounen are often action/adventure series featuring martial arts, Japanese and Chinese folklore, simplistic animation and conceptual fantasy and science fiction. Popular titles that have been translated to English include Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Dragonball/Z, Gundam, Fullmetal Alchemist, Prince of Tennis, and Sgt. Frog. Pokémon, the 1990s superfad, is also Shonen.

Shojo (少女)- Japanese for young girl, Shoujo is also popular outside of Japan, with such famous dubs as Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura (Cardcaptors in America), Tokyo Mew Mew and Fruits Basket. Within Shoujo there is the subgenre of Magical Girl, where an otherwise average Japanese girl has magical powers with which she saves the world. More often than Shounen, Shoujo are romance tales or rely heavily on romance in the plot. The Heroine is often saving the world by night and snagging the boy of her dreams by day.

Seinen (青年)- Japanese for young man, Seinen (or seijin) targets the 18 to 40 male audience, though it is not uncommon to find much older men reading manga on the train ride to work. Good examples of seinen anime and manga include: Ghost in the Shell, Gunslinger Girl, Bartender, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Cowboy Bebop, Elfen Lied, Aria, Bokura no, Hetalia: Axis Powers, as well as the feature films of Satoshi Kon and Makoto Shinkai. Titles like Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell are considered classics, while Cowboy Bebop was the first anime aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Seinen shares many elements with shounen, but is often darker and more mature (or immature, depending on the sense of humor) than Shounen, with horror, mystery and suspense. Sometimes, seinen manga features graphic violence, for example in the film Akira. Often it will also take a slice-of-life look at stories, and provide deeper character insights than shounen action-driven works.

Josei (女性)- Japanese for young woman, and targets women in the 18 to 40 age band. Can also be referred to as 'redisu' and 'redikomi', the latter being taken from the English 'lady comic'. It differs from shoujo in that the artistic styles of josei tend to be more realistic and restrained, and the stories tend to be more realistic and mature. Examples of josei manga and anime are Paradise Kiss, Hataraki Man and Honey and Clover.

Kodomo (子供向け)- Japanese for child, Kodomo are the cartoons most like American cartoons, as in for small children. They are often moral teachings with simple animation. Astro Boy is the first anime brought to America, having the notoriety that comes with being a child icon for 60 years. Modern titles include Hamtaro and Doraemon.

See also